Breathing in and out

Prior Knowledge: Students should have a basic understanding of the structure of the respiratory system such as lungs, diaphragm, trachea, mouth and nose. The students should also have a general understanding of structures and function of other body systems.

Lesson Objective: By the end of today’s class, SWBAT describe the basic function of the respiratory system.

Basic Description of Assignment: This lesson is designed to allow the students to be able to see and feel the function of the respiratory system. This short lab allows the students to examine how the human body takes in its needs and expels wastes. The student will be taking a regular daily activity, breathing, which most often not thought about and be able to manipulate and explain its functions.


– clean window


Step 1: Student breathe in deeply and exhale two times

Step 2: Time how long student can hold their breath and ask them why they cannot hold their breath forever

Step 3: Ask student what they think they are breathing in and what they are breathing out. Explain why

Step 4: Have student hold their hands in front of them and exhale into hands for 30 seconds

Step 5: Student describes what came out onto their mouths and hands and why

Step 6: Student exhales in front of a mirror for 15 seconds and describe what is on the window

Step 7: Ask student to explain what we breathe in and what we breathe out and why.


Reasoning behind Lesson:

The purpose of this lesson, like all of the other lessons is to guide the student to inquire and draw their own conclusions. This lesson draws attention to a phenomenon that the student should already be familiar with which is breathing. Most students at this age understand that we need oxygen to breathe, but don’t necessarily understand why we need to exhale. This lesson demonstrates that we don’t just exhale gases, but also water particles as demonstrated by the moist hands and fogged up window. This lesson is based on a lot of observations and guiding questions that should help the student to be able to come up with the conclusion that oxygen goes in and carbon dioxide and water comes out.

A common misconception is that humans only breathe out carbon dioxide. While this may be partially true, it is equally as important to point out to students that water is also byproduct of exhalation. The conclusion that the student should draw using the connections between what they have observed and perceived from before is that we need oxygen to live, but carbon dioxide and water are considered as wastes and can be harmful in this particular system. This lesson really pushes students to make connections between guiding questions and observations to be able to draw intuitive conclusions.




This lesson is fairly simple, but requires a lot of critical thinking. Some students may not have the background knowledge that would enable to understand the concept of inhaling in oxygen and exhaling carbon dioxide. In this case, students without the vocabulary should be able to understand the basic concept that respiration takes in something we need and gets rid of something that we do not need by exhalation. In this case, we can ask why do we breathe in and why do we breathe out? Asking guiding questions such as is this a good thing for our body system or bad thing will propel our students to start thinking about the body systems as self-maintaining.

For students who understand the concepts quickly, you can starting asking more probing questions such as why do we breathe more heavily when we run than when we are walking? These higher tiered questions will help our students to think about and apply what they have learned in a different context. Other higher order questions could be, “why can’t we breathe underwater?” This has launched many conversations in my classroom about what can take into our lungs and what we cannot.  Another question to ask is why it is bad to smoke? How does this affect our respiratory system.


Muscle Movement!

Prior Knowledge: Students should have a basic understanding of the structure and function of the skeletal system. Students should be able to recognize the location of muscles on the human body.

Lesson Objective: By the end of today’s class, SWBAT describe the basic function of muscles.

Basic Description of Assignment: This lesson is designed to get the student to start thinking about the interconnectedness of all of the body systems. The student will be examining how muscles work to cause movement.  This short lab will enable students to get a hands-on experience exploring the muscular system. Through the discovery of the function of the muscular system, the students will discover how muscles and bones interact and therefore conclude the relationship between the muscular and skeletal system.


– raw chicken wings (1 per person) with the skin removed


Step 1: Explain to the student that the pink tissue surrounding the bone is called muscle.

Step 2: Have student write down at least 5 observations about the muscle tissue on the chicken

Step 3: Stretch and bend the chicken wing while focusing on one muscle bundle.

– student must make at least 2 observations

Step 4: Bend and stretch the chicken wing while focusing on the movement of the opposing muscle bundle.

– student must note at least 2 observations

-student compares observations to previous observations

Step 5: Bend and stretch the chicken bone while focusing on the movement of the bone.

– student makes 2 observations

-student compares movement of the two muscle bundles and bone

Step 6: Ask student these questions:

– what is the role of the skeletal system?

-what did you notice about the bones as we moved the chicken wing?

-what caused the bones to move?

-what did the muscles do to cause the bone to move?

Step 6: have students model movement by flexing biceps while holding opposing muscles

Step 7: Ask students: What is the connection between muscles and bones?

Reasoning behind Lesson:

This lesson is designed for the students to have a hands-on lab experience at home. Using chicken wings, a food that most students are familiar with, the students are able to use this model to illustrate how muscles and bones work together to cause movement. Students typically do not get to see the whole picture and how one concept connects with another. This lab allows students to slowly develop logic and reasoning skills to better understanding how life science is all interconnected. Using the guiding questions and probing students to make observations enables students to slowly come to a conclusion about the relationship between the skeletal and muscular system.

As the students starts to see how they are interconnected, students will continue to develop these skills that will enable them to make bigger connections later in the course. Not only will the students be able to draw these big connections, but they will also be able to begin understanding the use of models to better understand the human body.


This lesson is particularly useful for students who are tactile. Students love feeling like they are in a lab setting. This hands-on experience is a great learning tool for students who need to feel and see the changes in the muscle length as the chicken wing changes movement. Students who are struggling with this concept can also be given scaffolding questions such as  “how many muscles are connected to this bone?” Identification questions may be easier for students struggling with the concept. After, you may ask the student to describe the shape and movement of the muscles as it moves. Then, the student can describe what caused the movement.

For extension, students can model movement of the chicken wing to the movement in the arm. Afterwards, the students can be probed with questions such as, “why do we use the chicken wing to represent muscles in the arm? Are they the same thing?” The student can also be asked the relationship of skeletal and muscular systems. For further extension the student can apply concepts that they have learned by explaining why we get backaches more often than ab aches? Any additional application questions would be useful to push student learning.

YouTube also has some great videos on muscle movements.

Circulatory System

Prior Knowledge: Students should have a basic understanding of the structure and function of the respiratory system. Students must also have a basic understanding of structures and functions of body systems. Students must also have a basic understanding of the structures of the circulatory system and how to take a pulse.

Lesson Objective: By the end of today’s class, SWBAT describe the basic function of the circulatory system

Basic Description of Assignment: This lesson is designed to allow the students to understand how all of the systems start to come together to keep the entire body working properly. In this assignments, students will be actively moving around to see how the body uses the the circulatory system to transport important materials such as oxygen throughout the body. As the students run around, they will see the relationship between heartrate and oxygen use.


– timer


Step 1: Student performs jumping jacks for 60 seconds

Step 2: Student stops, takes pulse and records time and pulse

Step 3: repeat steps 1 -2 for 10 minutes (10 trials)

Step 4: ask student to note the change in breathing as the time continued

Step 5: ask student what they noticed about the time of exercise and the pulse rate

Step 6: ask student why they think that your heart rate increased as your breathing increased?

Step 7: ask student what they think your heart measures? What does your heart do? What is the function of the circulatory system?

Reasoning behind Lesson:

This lesson plan is designed to place more meaning to the functions of the body systems, particularly the circulatory and respiratory system. Most students understand the concept that we need air to breathe and blood, but they don’t necessary understand the context to which they are related and play a significant role in our body. The circulatory system is an important system that delivers nutrients and oxygen to the rest of our body.

This lesson is a very active lesson that allows the students to not only practice science concepts, but to also practice taking data. This students will see the correlation between heart rate and breathing and logically conclude that one uses the other. This requires critical thinking skills which is not always emphasized in the sciences. While it is important to know vocabulary words and facts, it is also important to see these concept applied in a greater context. This lesson sets students up to be able to make this own conclusions and applied logic behind it.



This lesson is a physically intensive lesson that requires students to be able to not only calculate their heartrates, but also to understand what it means to have a heartrate. It may be difficult for some students to understand how to calculate and take a pulse, so be sure to remember to either help students to calculate it by showing a formula or having the students just describe the differences in pacing from beginning – middle – end of the activity. It is also a difficult concept for students who have not grasped the idea that you take in oxygen and oxygen travels in the blood via the circulatory system to the different parts of the body. This lesson was not designed to explain what the oxygen does to the different parts of body, but as a relationship between the circulatory and respiratory system.

For students who understand this concept, this activity is a great way to encourage students to practice graphing their data and observing trends based on the data. My students struggle with bringing concepts from other classes together, so bringing in math concepts such as graphing to the science classroom, will help your student to create some uniformity and cohesion with the other classes. In addition your student can also calculate the average of his/her heartrates and compare it to the other students in the classroom. Another great extension is to ask the student to relate what they know about muscles to the importance of exercising your heart. Drawing connections and creating a big picture for you student is critical to understanding this entire unit.

Digestive System

Prior Knowledge: Students should have a basic understanding of the structure of the digestive system including mouth, esophagus, stomach, small intestine, and large intestine. Student should also know the basic function of the digestive system and the role of each structure.

Lesson Objective: By the end of today’s class, SWBAT describe and explain how food is processed in digestive system.

Basic Description of Assignment: This lab is designed to  allow students to see how food is processed throughout the digestive system. It’s a great hands-on activity for students to physically see how food changes as it goes through the process. Students will take a slice of bread and watch it transform as you mimick the different parts of the digestive system. This activity could get messy, so doing it outside would be a very good idea!


sliced bread


-lemon juice

-plastic bag

-woman’s pantyhose


Step 1: place sliced bread into bag

Step 2: using hands only, smash the bread into pieces (mouth)

Step 3: describe the texture of the bread

Step 4: Add 10 drops of water to the bag with bread (saliva)

Step 5: mash the bag again using hands and describe how the “saliva” changed the bread

Step 6: add 20 drops of lemon juice (stomach acid), mash bag and describe how the “stomach acid” changed the bread

Step 7: place the contents into the panty hose (small and large intestines)

Step 8: squeeze contents through panty hose and describe how the bread has changed through the “intestines”

Step 9: clean area and reflect on the contents before and after the digestive system.

Reasoning behind Lesson:

The purpose of this lesson is to reinforce concepts with the student. Subjects in science are often theoretical and difficult for certain students to grasp. This lesson is designed to tie the concepts together and have the students visually see the changes in the food as you mimicked the different parts of the digestive system. This activity pushes student thinking by having them model the concept and bring purpose to each of the different structures. The guiding questions were designed to help the students to better understand the concepts by being able to draw the connection to what they have learned and what they were seeing in front of them. Sometimes see is believing and this is a way for students to believe the concept.

This experiment is designed to be home-friendly and budget friendly so that students can get reinforcement and practice at home. Similar to mobile learning, students will have this opportunity to practice at home with the guidance of this blog to help them get the same hands on exprience as they could at school. However, this additional practice and repetition is a great way to involve families and to reinforce concepts at home. Students who learn in multiple environments are hopefully more likely to learn in all contexts beyond the classroom, which is my goal – to have students view the world through a scientific lens.



This lesson is a great lesson for students of all levels because the students are not only drawing on previous knowledge, but also describing what they see. While some students may struggle with body structures, they can easily be reminded of it through the use of diagrams as you go through the activity. Constant reminders and asking the student to describe what they see and what they think is happening is a great way to catch up students who are behind and to address misconceptions.

Students who understand the concept completely can perform an extention by creating a diagram of the digestive system and creating a theme park or roller coaster ride using the digestive system. Students can model and apply what they know about the digestive system in a creative manner.


Prior Knowledge: Students should have a basic understanding of the location of major body organs. Students should know that the body is made up of different body systems. Each of the different body systems have a very specific struction and function. Together, these body systems function to enable humans to perform daily activities.

Lesson Objective: By the end of today’s class, SWBAT describe the basic structure and role of the skeletal system.

Basic Description of Assignment: This introductory lesson to the human body will get the student to start thinking about how the body is structured. In this lesson, students will be exploring the skeletal system and considering what the basic functions are.




– thoroughly cleaned chicken bones (can be from a recent meal, or you can purchase faux bones from a pet store)

– sidewalk chalk


Step 1: Have your student lay on the ground and trace his/her body using sidewalk chalk.

Step 2: Ask the student to illustrate what goes inside the body, using the sidewalk chalk. (direct the student to illustrate the heart, brain, bones)


Step 3:  Give the student the chicken bones and ask to examine it using these guiding questions:

– What is that? bone

– Do we have them? yes

– Where are they in our bodies?

– What do they do?

Step 4: Ask the student to illustrate (on the body drawn before) where they think all of the bones exist

Step 5: Have the student point to where the bones are in the body.

– Ask student where they think the most important bones are and why? (ADVANCED)

Step 6: Have students feel the rib bones. Ask what is inside.

Step 7: Have the student feel the skull. Ask what is inside.

Step 8: Ask student what they think the bones are doing.

Step 9: Ask student to stand up and ask why they can stand up.

Step 10: Ask student to demonstrate what would happen if all of the bones were removed.

– could you still jump? run? dance? move? why or why not?

Reasoning behind Lesson: This lesson is designed to get students to start thinking thinking about the basic functions and stucture of the skeletal system. Often, students are not pushed to inquire and make sense of phenomenon that they are already familiar with. The goal of the lesson is very student driven and takes learning outside of the classroom in a place that may be more familiar to the student. This lesson is designed to get students to identify something that they are already familiar with such as chicken bones from a meal and bones within their own bodies, but rarely do students think about the overall purpose of these structures. This activity is less teacher/parent teaching and allows for more exploration of the concept. Through exploration and building off of prior knowledge, students are more likely to make sense of the concepts that they learn and therefore more likely to remember these concepts. In addition, this lesson will help to develop scientific inquiry skills of the student. By constantly asking the student to explain their reasoning will develop their reasoning and inquiry skills.


This activity is useful for students who are very tactile and draws on prior knowledge such as identification of bones and location. For students who struggle with this concept, using analogies will help students to better understand the concept. For example, when discussing the role of bones as a protection, you can use the image of a bird cage protecting the bird inside from a cat to compare to the ribcage protecting the heart or the skull protecting the brain. You can also have the student consider building a tent. What would happen to the tent if you were to remove the sticks that held it up? Using metaphors and other concepts that the student is already familiar with with help the student to achieve mastery of understanding the concepts. You can also extend this for the struggling student by asking for them to come up with their own analogies.

For students who are catching onto the concepts very quickly, they can be pushed to more challenging applications. For example, students can be challenged by asking them to predict what would happen if the skeletal system was removed from the body? For application purposes, you can YouTube or watch a scene in Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets when Harry breaks his arm during a game of Quidditch (a blend of basketball and football…on flying broomsticks!). His professor, who is not very skilled at human biology, decides to “fix” his arm by removing the bones. The student can then explain why this is not a good solution. The student should be able to identify the body system affected and the functions of the body system. To push for further thinking, the student can be asked how removing the bones would change the way the body functions.

Hello world!

Welcome to Making Science Come Alive! Here, students and parents can come together and practice science concepts beyond the confines of the classroom and in your own home!  As we start working on the human body, students will have the opportunity to further exercise the concepts they have learned in class within the comfort of your own home. These mini-lessons are a great way to get the family involved and to view the world through a scientific lens!