Human Skeleton

human skeleton homeschool science lab
Hand vector created by Freepik

Most homeschool science curriculum programs will touch on the human skeleton, but there are SO many bones and the concept of the skeleton can be hard for kids to grasp. In this biology homeschool science lesson plan, we give the kids a fun activity to help them conceptualize exactly what a bone is, and we talk about the many different kinds of bones in the human body.

Even middle school age kids can benefit from this activity, and there’s a fun game courtesy of Scholastic that we’ve had great fun with. This homeschool science lesson plan is a hit with just about any group of kids, and it is easily adapted to suit a co-op or larger group.

Please note: At the bottom of this lab, you’ll find a handy list of the major bones with some facts about them.

Materials

Print this life-size skeleton courtesy of eskeletons.org
Print this matching game – one printout per pair of kids.
Laptop or computer to show a video
2-inch square of corrugated paper (one per child)
2-inch squares of rubber shelf liner (one per child), or something else that’s spongy and flexible
Yellow and red small pompoms
Clear tape
Fabric measuring tape

Procedure

  1. Brainstorm with the kids by asking the following questions:
  • Have you ever seen a house being built?
  • What part of the house do they build first? (The frame)
  • What does the frame of the house do? (It gives the house shape and support)
  • What is the frame of the human body? (The skeleton).

2. Here’s a fun song courtesy of Scholastic. You can write the words on a whiteboard and encourage the kids to sing along with you. It’s catchy! It is sung to the tune of “If I’m happy and I know it…”

“I’m Full of Bones”

From my fingers to my toes, I´m full of bones.
From my fingers to my toes, I´m full of bones.
If you count them all as one, they make a skeleton.
From my fingers to my toes, I´m full of bones.

My smallest bone is found inside my ear.
My smallest bone is found inside my ear.
The stirrup helps me hear many sounds both far and near.
My smallest bone is found inside my ear.

My longest bone is found inside my leg.
My longest bone is found inside my leg.
My femur´s really great ´cause it helps me stand up straight.
My longest bone is found inside my leg.

My joints help my bones to move around.
My joints help my bones to move around.
My hips, elbows, and knees: Oh, it´s all so plain to see
that my joints help my bones to move around.

3. Kids love videos! Show them this one by The Dr. Binocs Show.

4. Build a bone. Explain to the kids that they’re going to build a small model of a bone.

  • Ask the students to shape a 2-inch square of corrugated paper into a tube. Tape one of the ends together.
  • This represents compact bone, the hard outer layer that contains blood vessels and nerves.
  • Then, roll a 2-inch square of rubber shelf liner into a scroll and slide it into the bone tube.
  • This represents the spongy bone, the lightweight inner layer of the bone.
  • Finally, fill the center of the bone with red and yellow pompoms. Explain that the red marrow (myeloid tissue, red pompoms) produces red and white blood cells for the body, and that the yellow marrow stores fat.

5. Explain that our arms and legs are each made up of three long bones: one in the upper part of each limb and two in the lower part. Encourage the kids to measure and record the length of these bones. Measure the humerus from the shoulder to the elbow, the ulna from the elbow to the wrist, and the radius from the inside of the elbow to the thumb side of the wrist.

6. Then, they can measure the femur from the hip to the knee, the tibia from the knee to the inside ankle, and the fibula from the knee to the outside of the ankle. Which bone is the longest? (the femur). This bone is also the strongest bone in the body.

7. Play the matching game. Scholastic again to the rescue with this fun printable game. Pair the kids up and one child will give the clues and the other child will guess. They can switch after a few minutes.

8. Working in pairs or small groups, the kids can assemble the life-size skeleton. Print them on card stock and laminate with this homeschool friendly laminator to reuse them many times. I have one much like it and it is a workhorse.

Background Info

Skull
made of the upper skull (cranium is eight plates) and jaw bone
protects the brain, nose, eyes, ears
connected to the top of the spine

Spine
33 linked bones (vertebrate) that get larger in size as they go down
separated by “shock absorbers”, discs of cartilage
the spine is part of what helps to keep us upright (unlike an insect with an exo-skeleton)
a tunnel runs down the middle of the spinal cord with nerves in it that send messages from the brain to the various parts of the body

Rib Cage
12 pairs of ribs; two pairs are “floating” which means they’re not attached to the breast bone
at the back, the rib cage links to the vertebrae
in the front, the rib cage links to sternum
the rib cage serves to protect the heart, lungs, and other important internal organs

Arms & Hands
clavicle, shoulder blade
humerus – is the upper arm (humerus)
radius is the shorter bone, the ulna is the longer bone in the arm
27 bones in total in the wrist and hands

Pelvis
made of five fused hip bones and vertebrae

Legs
connected to pelvis
femur – longest and strongest bone in the body, in the upper leg
patella – is the kneecap
the tibia is the shinbone
26 bones in the feet

 

 

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