How My Body Works

Kids are naturally so inquisitive about their bodies and so it’s easy to enagage them in activities to learn about the human body.

This week we have another few fabulous Blog Takeovers taking a closer look at the human body. Thank you to both of these weeSTEMs families for sharing their learning with us!

The focus this week is how your body works – how it is put together and how it functions as one. Ranging from the skeleton and major organs, to the nervous system and skin we cover the major sections that allow your entire body to work as one.

Body Facts

  • Your brain uses over 1/4 of the oxygen that your body uses
  • You produce around 1 litre of saliva per day
  • Ancient Romans thought that bicep muscles looked like little mice therefore naming it a ‘muscle’ – which in Latin means ‘little mouse’
  • Bodies give off a tiny amount of light (too little for your eye to observe)
  • We have about the same number of hairs on our bodies as chimpanzees (only ours is much finer)
  • Your brain can survive for 5-10 minutes without oxygen
  • 1/4 of your bones are in your feet
  • You are taller in the morning than at night
  • Women’s brains actually shrink during pregnancy
  • 50% of your hand strength comes from your pinky finger
  • Our reactions to touch, danger and fear are so fast because the electrical signals in the nerve fibres travel around 280 kilometres per hour
  • The brain contains 100 billion nerve cells
  • The hands and feet contain over half the body’s bones
  • Skin accounts for 15% of your bodyweight
  • You skin contains approximately 11 miles of blood vessels

Videos about the human body

Activity 1

Annotated Body

Explore a life-sized human body in this fun activity

You will need:

  • Large sheet of paper (lining paper or the back of wallpaper is perfect)
  • Pen

Test your child’s anatomy knowledge by tracing around their body and allowing them to annotate any parts that they know. You could help draw out major organs (or even draw them on separate pieces of paper and then attempt to place them in the correct place).

Louise says: “Hannah and I got some big bits of paper and stuck them together, we drew round her body which was a challenge for me as she is my most fidgety of small people. Hannah is a huge fan of Operation ouch so was quite aware of some of the bits that make up the body. We also had a look at a squishy body model we had in the house and chatted about what makes up the different areas of our body. She concentrated on the chest and head today.”

Activity 2

Label the Skeleton

How many bones can you name?

You will need:

  • PDF of skeleton & labels
  • Scissors
  • Glue

Have a watch of this skeleton video and see if you can label the skeleton. Remember to try and let your kids have a go at cutting out the words – the more scissor practise the better!

You could also have a go at testing different members of your family to see how they get on!

Claire says: “[We] started off with seeing if my little 2 and half year old wanted to cut out the labels [but it] didn’t really work [as she] was more excited just to chop paper. Take two I cut out the labels and we worked to label the “spooky skeleton”. She liked to mark up the skeleton.”

Activity 3

How the body moves

Make a basic model of your arm using common household objects

You will need:

  • Cardboard
  • Scissors
  • Elastic bands
  • Split pin/ paper fastener

Your arm muscles alternate between contracting and relaxing in order to make your arm move. Have a play around with this model of an arm to see the basics of how muscles work.

Cut out two pieces of card to represent the upper and lower arm. Pierce a hole so that they can be attached by a split pin. Finally, pierce 4 holes (as in the images below) and thread 2 cut elastic bands through the adjoining holes. Fiddle with the tension so that it’s just about equal and then have a play around watching each elastic band stretch and relax similar to how the muscles in your body change to move your limbs.

Activity 4

How Your Skin Works

Explore the layers of the skin using objects from around your house

You will need:

  • A range of objects from around the house to represent the different layers of the skin (eg necklaces, string, teeshirts, pillowcase, earphones, cornflakes, lentils etc)

Having watched the video on the skin we decided to try to recreate the different layers using items from around the house.

We found some different coloured teeshirts and used them to represent the different layers. Two different necklaces represented the blood vessels, earphones represented the nerve endings, cornflakes represented the skin cells, and lentils for the melanin.

What objects could you use?

Activity 5

The Nervous System

An activity to explore how well your body works as one

You will need:

  • A range of objects that feel/smell different (eg ice, brush, teeshirt, orange, pencil, pinecone, petal etc)

We watched this video about the nervous system and then discussed how nerve pathways lead to and from the brain.

A great way to test this was to have ‘nerve-pathway races’ and so two people closed their eyes and recieved an item into their hands. The first person to shout out (correctly) what was in their hands was the winner.

We then re-discussed that the nerves in our hands raced the information to our brains and then our brains processed the information before sending out new information to our mouths to shout out the correct answer.

Activity 6

The Brain

A basic first look at your brain

You will need:

  • Playdoh
  • Paper
  • Pens
  • Scissors

We watched this video about the brain and then talked about all of the things that the brain can or could do. Once we’d thought about all of the things the brain is in charge of I started showing the main areas of the brain that are responsible for certain processes.

Frontal Lobe – Thinking (ie planning, conentrating, creativity, expressing emotions)

Parietal Lobe – Sensory input (from all over body internally and externally)

Occipital Lobe – Visual area (vision & image perception)

Temporal Lobe – Memory & langauge comprehension

Cerebellem – Coordination, movement & balance

Thalamus – Releasing hormones, regulating temperature & maintaining physiological cycles (eg telling you when you’re hungry)

Spinal Cord – The body’s telephone system – relaying information to and from the brain to the rest of the body

Pons – Controls breathing and sensations (such as hearing, taste, and balance)

Medualla Oblongata – Controls the body’s automatic functions (e.g. heartrate, digestion, breathing, swallowing, vomiting)

Corpus Callosum – Communicates between the left and right hemisphere of the brain

Your brain is pretty incredible and whilst it is beyond complex – now is as good a time as ever to start exploring what it is capable of. Hopefully this task will give you and your kids an appreciation of just how fabulous you are.

Activity 7

Reaction Times

How good are your reactions?

You will need:

  • Ruler

Who has the best reactions in your house?

Simply hold the ruler at an agreed height above your open hand (the closer to the hand the more difficult this take is! And of course for younger participants simply edit it to catching a ball, or support catching a stick etc).

Without warning, drop the ruler and measure where on the ruler the participant catches it. Repeat for other members of the family.

Who had the fastest reaction time (i.e. whose nerves passed the information of the ruler falling to the brain and then the brain sent information down different nerve pathways to make the hand close and catch the ruler fastest?).

I hope you enjoyed the activities this week and learned a few new things about the human body! Did you have a favourite activity?

Let me know how you get on or if you have any questions do get in touch.

Happy Learning!

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