Second-grade students aren't too young to learn basic concepts about the human body. In fact, second graders should learn about the human body so they understand more about keeping their bodies healthy and strong. Studying the human body also intrigues many second graders because it allows them to glimpse what they look like under their skin. Human-body activities can also teach young children more about how each part of their body works together to keep them alive.
Let second graders flip through books that illustrate what the human body looks like. Include books that show what the skeleton looks like and how the muscles look. Students might also be interested to see what different parts of the body, such as the heart, brain and lungs, look like as well.
Give each second grader a white paper cutout shaped like the human body. Ask students to illustrate the body shapes with bones, muscles and internal organs, as well as label the different parts. Let them refer back to the books about the human body to remind them about the different parts and where they are located. This helps students gain basic knowledge about what different body parts are called, as well as where they are located in the body, which is part of the second-grade science standards in many public school districts.
Show second graders a stethoscope and talk about what it's used for. Discuss the fact that without a heart, humans wouldn't be alive. Let students take turns listening to the sound of their heartbeat with the stethoscope. Encourage the students to count how many times their heart beats in one minute and record them on a classroom graph. Ask second graders to name which student had the fewest beats per minute and which student had the most. In addition to giving practice in graphing, many state science standards dictate that second graders should learn that there are individual differences among the same species, including humans.
Create stations to teach second graders about the five senses, which meets many states' second-grade science requirement that students should know how to conduct careful observations. Fill a box with several items, close the lid and cut a small hole in one side. Encourage second graders to feel each item and record what they think they are feeling. Have a tasting station, too. Blindfold each child and have him taste several items, such as a piece of celery, an apple slice or a soda cracker. Identifying different sounds, such as a bird, fire truck or wind chime, is a good way to teach about hearing. Reinforce the concept of smell by using scented markers. Let students smell each one and guess what they're smelling. To teach about sight, cut out sections of larger pictures, such as the stripe of a tiger or a kernel from a corn cob, and challenge students to guess what the larger picture is.
Play body trivia. Choose a body part and give the students clues to see whether they can guess the part. For example, for blood you could tell the second graders that it's red and it's liquid. The first child to guess the body part correctly can describe the next body part.
- ['Books about the human body', 'Body shapes cut from white paper', 'Crayons', 'Pencils', 'Stethoscope', 'Cardboard box', 'Various items to feel', 'Various items to taste', 'Recordings of various sounds', 'Scented markers', 'Small sections from larger pictures']
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