Bones can be one of the easiest parts of the human anatomy to teach children about, primarily because they are so tangible. In addition, most second graders, who are between 7 and 8 years old, will have seen bones and will know what their purpose is, although there will also be much they do not understand about them. This is why it is important to draw up a plan before attempting to teach.
Human Body Image
By reproducing an enlarged picture of the human body, showing the skeletal bone structure as well as some important body parts such as the liver, heart and lungs, the children will get a better idea of the role bones play in the body, and how they support other organs. An important part of this lesson will be labeling important bones, such as the collarbone or the chest bone, and getting the children to relate these images to their own bodies. It will help if there is a child in the class who has broken a bone in the past and can explain to the other children how this felt and how it affected his mobility.
Find real bones so the children can touch and feel them. This may seem a bit off-putting for them at first, but it should soon give way to a fascination with how the body's architecture allows us to sit, stand, walk and run. Alternatively, you could use a life-size rubber model of a skeleton to show how the bones are arranged throughout the body.
By second grade, most children may not yet have fully grasped how important it is to ensure our bones are healthy. Explain how a balanced diet, including calcium and other foods, strengthens bones, and how exercise plays a part in keeping bones strong. Being too technical at this point could be a mistake, but it will not do any harm to describe how the body suffers if bones are weak.
Illustrated Reading Material
Reading material is crucial for second graders, and the sooner they are encouraged to read the better. The best way to capture their imagination is with large, illustrated books on human anatomy that make clear the role of bones in the body. It will not harm if there are plenty of words for them to read too, but at this point pictures of bones, and of a slightly eerie human skeleton, will have a much more profound affect.
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