A little lesson plan on human anatomy for kindergarten and lower elementary!
The younger kids love learning about all the things inside us.
I got inspired to teach the kids at our homeschool co-op about some of the body systems (skeletal, digestive, neurological, etc) as part of a larger lesson on the Renaissance and the interest scholars and artists took in the human body at that time.
But you could incorporate these ideas into a life science or biology class, or even for something spooky and educational way to celebrate Halloween.
Human Anatomy Teaching Tools
(Please note, this section contains affiliate links for your convenience).
I picked up a few props for this lesson that really brought things to life.
The first was this amazing anatomy STEM toy of the human body. The removable parts made explaining the different body systems in a visual way much easier and more interactive than a chart.
(One thing I’ve learned in teaching littles: Kids love toys. And they really don’t love charts).
The second one was this fake brain — which is actually just a Halloween prop.
Pro tip: Halloween props are a whole lot cheaper than med school anatomy models!
Of course, they aren’t super precise, but I just wanted to talk about the different regions of the brain and how different areas controlled different body systems and functions. So for that, it worked well.
This is a list of the words I felt were really helpful for younger kids when introducing human anatomy. Of course, I tried to keep these definitions really simple, but accurate.
System: A group of parts that work together to do a job.
Anatomy: Body parts.
Skeletal system: How our bones work together.
Digestive system: The parts of our bodies that turn food into stuff it can use.
Cardiovascular: Anything to do with the heart and blood.
Nervous system: How your brain sends messages to your body and tells it what to do.
Respiratory system: The parts of your body that you use to breathe.
Of course, you can add other systems or words you want to, but for this age group, I tried to keep it simple, simple, simple. My goal was to start laying a foundation for more complex concepts later in their STEM education.
There are so many directions you can take this lesson, and I only had an hour, but I brainstormed many more ideas than I could possibly use.
Here are just a few to try.
Take apart a human anatomy toy.
I gathered the kids around a table and we took apart the human anatomy toy above.
We pulled out each organ/body part and talked about what its job is and what system it’s part of.
Talk about the parts of the brain.
Of course, most elementary students know they have a brain and where it is.
But they usually don’t know that different parts of the brain have different jobs.
Talk about some of the regions in the brain and how they correspond to different body functions.
Where does food go?
Kids love food (let’s be honest, who doesn’t?!) and any topic that relates to food is sure to get their attention.
Bring something bite-sized for them to sample (a piece of candy, cut up granola bars, a strawberry, whatever) and tell them to focus on it as they eat it.
What process comes first? (chewing)
When they swallow, where does it go? (into the esophagus/throat)
Can they feel it move into their stomachs (this is especially pronounced with something hot or cold)
Take the kids on a journey through the digestive tract for a relatable lesson that will stick in their minds for good!
Anatomy books for littles are tricky.
If you’re teaching a class, you can easily trip into some illustrations that you may not want to explain!
However, there are a few that are age-appropriate and make helpful guides.
The best one I’ve found is The Human Body Activity Book for Kids. It has a ton of ideas for projects and enrichment lessons on the human body.