Wednesday, April 2, 2014

We Built the Digestive System!

We have finally started the unit that I have been looking forward to this entire school year! The Human Body and Current Events (more on that in a future post). 
How It's Being Done
First, I am explicitly teaching students about the digestive system through reading, experiments, and activities. 

The Heart, The Brain, The Muscles, & The Bones
After about 2 weeks, students will be put into reading groups where they will have a system of the body to read about, study, and complete activities on. I will have them create their own graphic organizers that draw from all of the nonfiction reading skills they have learned throughout this school year. No more teacher-created graphic organizers! This should take about 4 weeks. 

The Science in It
Each Friday, I plan on conducting experiments or having students engage in a hands-on activity that pertains to one of the four systems. Ideally, every Monday, students will rotate the books and study a new system. At the end, students will complete a class project. 

These are the books I purchased for this unit:

The Digestive System - Let's Build It!

To begin, we labeled the parts of the digestive system. Yesterday, we watched a Bill Nye video and it was awesome! Maybe next year, I will try to simulate what he did in the show which I think would be even cooler for my kids to see! Anyhow, today we only labeled each part, and will go into depth about the specific functions tomorrow. I blew up this poster and students had an 8.5x11 for their Science binders. We completed the labeling together so that they could also practice the spelling. I am usually not a stickler at all about spelling, but I do think it is important to learn how to spell each of our organs. As I said to my class, "If you are going to be a scientist one day, then the spelling of key words like this is going to be really important." 

If you are wondering how I was able to write the word "anus" on the board with 5th graders, I will tell you (mostly because if I was a new teacher, I would want tips on this!): I warned my class that this diagram was a little more detailed than Bill Nye, and that in order to learn about advanced material, we need to put our maturity hats on. (With human body books floating all around the room, this will soon become a coined term for this unit, I'm sure!) I was able to label each part with only a few giggles and my super active, totally rambunctious class did not get out of hand! I know that if I even crack a smile, I will totally lose this moment of maturity from them, and I will admit, I had to hold it in as well! (I guess since we are teachers there is a part of us that will never grow up :)) I am so glad this is not an issue!

Afterwards, I presented everyone with a bag of materials. 

Students were asked to build the digestive system. First, they worked together to sketch out their plan of action and then they went to work building. We presented the models to each other at the end and everyone had a different use for the materials. It was wonderful! Here it is in action:

Do you teach about the Digestive System or any of the Systems of the Body? I would love to hear about what you do in your classroom!

*I found this activity as a free sample on the Teachers Pay Teachers website. I ended up buying the rest of the units this teacher made because this one turned out so well! Here is the link if you are interested:


  1. Okay--that is super cool! I bet your kiddos had lots of fun and will remember this lesson for years to come.

  2. This is a great product thanks for sharing about it. I did a human body unit at the beginning of the year I started the unit by having my students make a foldable of the 11 different body systems (here is the link to TPT for the foldable which is a freebie and it is amazing)

    Then we studied each body system. Whenever I could find a Bill Nye video about that system I showed it. I searched Pinterest and found tons of great ideas that helped the kids have a hands on approach to each body system. We built a model of a lung with plastic cups, straws, and balloons. I created a model of the four chambers of the heart out of water bottles (it wasn't perfect it leaked and since I dyed the water red and blue which meant I had funny colored hands for a few days). I cut up pool noodles and we used them to build a model of the spine. We checked our pulse with a marshmallow inserted into a toothpick (it didn't work the best, but my students thought it was cool).

  3. Most people diagnosed with gallstones galbladder pain (99%) can do liver cleanse, and not feel any pain. BUT, few people may experience pain.


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