How to Make a Model of the Digestive System for Kids

Biology is an important and fascinating science for kids to learn. For example, learning about the human body and how it works is especially important in order to understand how to keep the body healthy. However, it is often difficult for kids to understand the different organ systems and how they operate. One method kids can use to learn about a certain body system is by building a model. The digestive system is one of the more complicated organ systems in the body but by building a simplified model of the entire system, kids can learn the organs involved and how they function.

  • Tubing or piping
  • Markers
  • Colored paper
  • Adhesive materials (glue or tape)
  • Organ images or labels
  • Clean plastic bottles
  • Clay or play dough of different colors
  • Jelly beans

1 Learn About the Digestive System

You can’t make a model of the digestive system if you don’t know what organs are involved, where they are located, or what they do. The major organs in the digestive system are the mouth, salivary glands, esophagus, stomach, small intestine, large intestine, liver, gall bladder, pancreas, rectum and anus. Learn how food moves through the digestive system, what the function of each organ is, and, especially, how the organs are connected to each other. Visit your school's media center and locate books, anatomy charts, You tube videos and short films. View and discuss resources before attempting to design or attempt to make a model of the digestive system with the class.

2 Easy Diagram of Digestive System

The digestive system is one of the more complicated organ systems in the body. Drawing an easy diagram of the entire system helps kids picture the organs involved and how they function. As part of a lesson on digestive health, instruct kids to make their own stomach drawing and then talk about what it means when they hear their stomach growling. Basic understanding of digestive health and functioning will help the class make a model of the digestive system that is realistic.

3 Gather Materials for a Model

Make a plan for how to design your model and obtain appropriate materials. Use straws or tubing for the tubular organs such as the esophagus and intestines. Cardboard paper towel tubes work great for straight tracts like the esophagus. Use empty soda or milk bottles for organs like the mouth and stomach, jelly beans for the salivary glands, and molded play dough or modeling clay for solid organs like the gall bladder, liver, and pancreas. As an alternative, use different colored play dough or modeling clay to create all the organs and fit them together.

4 Make Model of Digestive System

Work on the different organs one by one. Start at the beginning of the digestive tract, the mouth, and by following a diagram of the digestive system, work your way down, forming and attaching each organ as you go. If using clay or play dough, form the organs into their appropriate shapes using a different color for each organ. If using tubing, form the hollow digestive system first, and then form and attach the solid organs. If desired, cut out images or labels for the major organs and attach them to the model. Discuss how an active lifestyle benefits bodily organs and supports digestive health.

  • Be creative. Come up with different ideas for creating a model of the digestive system by reusing or recycling old materials from the home, or research ways to create a working model with moving parts.

Sarah Quinlan has experience writing for various websites on science, biology, veterinary science, health and medicine. For over seven years she has worked as a scientist in various biological fields where she has written and contributed to multiple manuscripts that have been published in scientific journals. Quinlan holds a bachelor's degree in zoology and a master's degree in forensic biology/chemistry.