I am a Christian. I was an 8th-grade American History teacher. I am currently a freelance writer, public speaker, & homeschooling mom of 9.
This is part 7 of a 7 part hands-on unit study on anatomy of the human body. Make an edible layers of skin model, play immune system freeze tag, watch how germs spread, observe bacteria under a microscope, and more! These lessons are geared toward 4th-5th grade level children and their siblings and were created for our weekly homeschool co-op class. We meet each week for 2 1/2 hours and have 33 children between the ages of 1-13. Use these fun lessons with your classroom, family, after school program, camp, or co-op!
Introduction & Germs Spreading
1. Have each child rub hand lotion on their hands & then sprinkle a couple shakes of glitter onto their hands. (Don't tell them why you are doing this. You'll explain later.)
YOU WILL NEED: hand lotion & glitter
2. Pray. Read & discuss 2 Kings 5:1-14.
3. Review the systems of the body and introduce the Integumentary (skin, hair, & nails) and Lymphatic (immune) Systems.
Integumentary System: Your Skin
4. Discuss how skin helps us: prevents germs from entering our bodies, produces Vitamin D, regulate our body temperature, protects us from the harmful rays of the sun, keeps the water our body needs from evaporating, and gives us information through our sensory neurons.
- Have children examine their skin and determine where their skin is thickest, thinnest, most wrinkled, and moistest. Briefly mention how the protein, elastin, allows skin to wrinkle and then become smooth again on places such as your elbows and knuckles.
- Discuss pigments. Have children determine who has the lightest skin and the darkest skin. Discuss the role of the pigments carotene and melanin.
YOU WILL NEED: mirrors (such as a compact mirror) (optional)
Labeling Layers and Parts of the Skin
5. Lead children in coloring and labeling the layers of their skin. Briefly discuss each part and its function. A free printable worksheet for children to color that shows the layers of skin is http://www.enchantedlearning.com/ (as shown in the photo). If you would prefer a labeled worksheet for children who cannot write quickly, you can use http://wikieducator.org/ .
YOU WILL NEED: crayons/markers/colored pencils and layers of skin worksheets
Protection Against Germs
6. Reveal to the children why they had glitter on their hands. This was an experiment to show how germs spread. Have the children use mirrors to see all the glitter on their faces. Allow them to quickly walk around the room to see where the glitter is. Then discuss the best way to kill germs: washing your hands regularly with soap and warm water. Have the children wash their hands.
YOU WILL NEED: mirrors (such as compact mirrors) and soap
Edible Skin Layers
7. Now that the germs have been washed away, we are ready to make the edible model of the layers of our skin. Review the layers of our skin and its parts as you create the edible model of the layers of our skin in cups.
- The hypodermis or subcutaneous tissue (fat) will be represented by 4-6 slices of banana.
- The dermis layer will be represented by red jell-o made with strawberries (which represent nerve endings and capillaries) and grape pieces (which represent sweat glands).
- The epidermis layer will be represented by a fruit roll-up. Before placing it on top of the jell-o dermis layer, make 3 small slits in it so that your hair can fit through those holes.
- Now push your licorice hair through your epidermis into your dermis layer, where it can sit in its hair follicle.
- Review what each part represents, and then allow children to eat their edible layers of the skin (or give them to their parents to save for later if desired).
YOU WILL NEED PER CHILD: 1 plate, 1 spoon, 1 clear disposable cups (small or medium size), 4-6 banana slices, red jell-o made with diced strawberries and grape pieces, 1/4 of a fruit roll-up (preferable yellow or orange -- and preferably cut into a circle, and 3 small strips of chocolate or black licorice [each about 1 inch]
(This idea is a slightly revised version that originally came from http://fromthemrs.blogspot.com/2013/07/human-anatomy-science-units-for-kids.html .)
Integumentary System: Your Hair and Nails
8. Lead children in examining their hair: color, cow licks, and whorls. Briefly discuss how hair grows and its parts. Have children examine their nails. Briefly discuss how they grow and their parts.
YOU WILL NEED: a mirror (such as a compact mirror)
The Lymphatic System & Bacteria
8a. Ask, “What are germs?” [Allow children to answer.]“Germs,” also called pathogens, include bacteria, viruses, fungi, & protozoan. They are microscopic foreign invaders that cause harm to our cells and make us sick.
- Ask, “Are all bacteria bad?” [Allow children to answer.] Only about 5% of bacteria makes you sick. The other 95% are either harmless or essential for you to be healthy. [I showed a bag of 100 crayons and pulled out 5 in order to have a visual of this.] Who can name some examples of good bacteria? (bacteria in your large intestine, bacteria in yogurt, penicillin, etc.)
- Ask, “What does infectious mean? How do we get infected? What are some examples of noninfectious diseases?”
YOU WILL NEED: a bag of 100 crayons (or 100 of any other item)
Bacteria's 3 Main Shapes
8b. (Optional) Quickly discuss bacteria’s 3 main shapes by showing pictures of them. Then lay out a handful of craft pompoms and pipe cleaners and have children hold up the shape when you say the name:
- Cocci - sphere-shaped (craft pompom)
- Bacilli – rod-shaped (pipe cleaner cut into a small rod)
- Spirelli – spiral-shaped (pipe cleaner curved into a spiral)
YOU WILL NEED: a picture of the 3 main shapes of bacteria, craft pompoms, & pipe cleaners (some cut into small rods and some shaped into spirals)
How Germs Spread
9. One way germs are transmitted from one person to another is through sneezing and coughing.
- Demonstrate this by partnering up children. Let each child have a turn pretending to sneeze or cough while using a spray bottle to squirt ONE squirt of water on a sheet of newspaper or other larger paper.
- Have children reverse rolls and allow the other person to pretend to sneeze or cough while spraying one squirt of water onto a paper held by the other child.
- The liquid represents your saliva full of germs that shoots out when you sneeze or cough. A single sneeze can blow 100,000 drops into the air. Other people inhale them and catch a cold themselves.
- This is why it is important for you to sneeze or cough into the crook of your elbow (or into a tissue). Have children pretend to sneeze and cough into the crook of their elbows. Why shouldn't you use your hand? (Remember the glitter? You'll cough or sneeze your germs onto your hand, and then touch the germs to door handles, light switches, etc.)
YOU WILL NEED: a sheet of newspaper or larger paper like a grocery store ad per child and one or more spray bottles with water
How Your Body Battles Germs
10. Read one of the below books on how pathogens invade your body and make you ill and how our immune systems fight back. We read “Your Body Battles a Skinned Knee” by Vicki Cobb.
YOU WILL NEED: a picture book on the immune system such as “Your Body Battles a Cold” by Vicki Cobb
Our Favorite Picture Book on the Immune System for Reading Aloud
Lymphatic System As a Filter
11. Briefly discuss how the lymphatic system works as a home for your lymphocyte army and as a filter. If desired, pour water into a water filter to give them a visual aid. Also briefly discuss about lymph nodes and have children feel theirs under their jaw lines.
YOU WILL NEED: water filter (such as a Brita water filter pitcher) (optional) and a picture of the lymphatic system (optional)
How Bacteria Multiply
12a. Have each child hold up the colored sheet of paper. Tell the children that this is bacteria that got into their bodies. As soon as bacteria enter your body, they begin to divide and multiply rapidly by binary fission. Bacteria double about every 30 minutes.
- Have everyone tear their colored sheet in half. Let’s pretend 30 minutes have passed. The bacteria divide again. Have them tear the 2 colored sheets of paper in half. Now they have 4 pathogens.
- The bacteria divide again. Have them tear the 4 colored sheets of paper in half so that they have 16 sheets of paper.
- Tear all the colored sheets in half again to get 32 pieces of paper. (You may have to not tear them all at once at this point. Simply tear a few at a time but make sure to tear each sheet of paper in half.)
- Ask, “How many bacteria would you have if you divided them again?” (64)
- “If it divided again?” (128)
- In just 5 hours, 1 bacteria will turn into 1,024 bacteria!
- Have the children pile all their sheets of paper into one pile.
- Remember that when bacteria entire your body, it’s not just this one bacteria. It is many thousands of them, and they are each dividing this way.
YOU WILL NEED PER CHILD: 1 sheet of colored paper (Helpful hint: Yellow lined paper from a legal notepad is much easier to tear than construction paper.)
White Blood Cells Multiply Quickly Too
12b. Thankfully your immune system does the same thing. Have the child get out their white paper. This white paper represents a white blood cell in your body.
- Have the children again tear the paper in half.
- Tear those pieces of paper in half.
- Tear all those pieces of paper in half.
- Tear all those pieces of paper in half.
- Your white blood cells divide just as quickly to attack and kill the bacteria. Place the “immune system” sheets of paper over the pile of the “bacteria” sheets of paper.
YOU WILL NEED PER CHILD: 1 sheet of white paper (Helpful hint: Yellow lined paper from a legal notepad is much easier to tear than construction paper.)
How Viruses Replicate Themselves
13. Viruses are different.
- Show pictures of different types of viruses.
- Scientists agree that bacteria are alive, but they do not consider viruses to be alive. Viruses can move on their own, but they cannot reproduce without a host cell.
- Once a virus gets inside your body, it tricks your cell membrane into letting it inside your cell. [Drop a pompom into a balloon that's been pre-filled with craft pompoms.]
- Once it invades your cell, it takes over the nucleus and has your cell’s nucleus begin reproducing the virus. [Begin blowing up the balloon & then tie it off.]
- Eventually so many viruses are created, they blast out of the cell, destroying it. [Pop the balloon.]
- Those viruses then each look for a cell to trick, invade, & take over. But have no fear. Your immune system is at work killing off the viruses.
- (Optional) Briefly discuss how traditional vaccines work.
YOU WILL NEED: pictures of different shapes of viruses, a craft pompom, a balloon that's been pre-filled with craft pompoms, and a sharp object for popping the balloon
Immune System Tag
14. Play Immune System Tag. (Note: If you are limited by time or are working with only younger children, you can act this out using props like toy swords and helmets instead of playing the tag game.)
- Divide children into 3 groups. Give 1/3 of the children a name-tag with a person drawn on it. These children will represent people. Give the next 1/3 of the children name-tags with rod drawn on it. They are going to be salmonella bacteria. The third group of children will have name-tags with a puff-ball shape on them. They are going to be the white blood cells.
- The white blood cells are supposed to protect the people.
- The "people" will run around in an open space.
- If a "salmonella bacteria" touches a person, that person becomes ill and must sit down.
- The "white blood cells" can "heal" a sick person who is still down by touching them.
- When a person sitting down is tagged by a person who has a "white blood cell" sticker, they can run around again.
- The "white blood cells" will also try to destroy the "salmonella bacteria" players.
- If a "white blood cell" player tags a "salmonella bacteria" player, the "salmonella bacteria" is out of the game and must sit over to the side.
YOU WILL NEED: name-tags with 1/3 of them having a person drawn on them, 1/3 with a rod drawn on them, and 1/3 with a puffball drawn on them
Vitamin C and Review
15. Discuss how one way to help your immune system is by eating a healthy diet. Quickly discuss what is healthy and not healthy to eat. Talk about vitamins and how vitamin C in particular boosts your immune system. Let children eat and drink a few items that contain vitamin C.
YOU WILL NEED: cups, napkins, and foods and drinks high in vitamin C (orange juice, bell pepper strips, broccoli, orange slices, strawberries, etc.)
16. Five minute review of what we learned today.
More Great Picture Books on the Immune System
Also look for:
- You Wouldn't Want to Be Sick in the 16th Century!: Diseases You'd Rather Not Catch (You Wouldn't Want to...) by Kathryn Senior
- I Feel Better with a Frog in My Throat: History's Strangest Cures by Carlyn Beccia - My 9 year old son read this book on his own at least a few times during the one week that we were studying the immune system. He loved all the fun trivia and tales of what has been used in the field of medicine.
- The Value of Believing in Yourself: The Story of Louis Pasteur (Valuetales) by Spencer Johnson - There are a number of great books about Louis Pasteur. This was our favorite. My children (ages 2-9) enjoyed this book.
- Germ Zappers by Fran Balkwill gives a good overview of the immune system and has nice illustrations.
- Germs Make Me Sick! (Let's-Read-and-Find-Out Science 2) by Melvin Berger is a great basic explanation of how bacteria and viruses make you ill and how your immune system fights back. The straightforward approach keeps the information from getting confusing.
- Germ Stories by Arthur Kornberg
- Edward Jenner and the Smallpox Vaccine by Linda Ross
- Wash Your Hands! by Tony Ross
Material List for This Lesson
ITEMS FOR FAMILIES TO BRING PER CHILD:
-mirror (such as a compact mirror)
-crayons, markers, or colored pencils
-a worksheet for children to color that shows the layers of skin such as http://www.enchantedlearning.com/subjects/anatomy/skin/label/label.shtml (unlabeled for children who can write quickly) or http://wikieducator.org/The_Anatomy_and_Physiology_of_Animals/Skin_Worksheet/Worksheet_Answers (labeled for children who cannot write quickly)
-a sheet of white paper and a sheet of colored paper (scrap paper would be fine)
ITEMS FOR FAMILIES TO BRING TO SHARE WITH THE GROUP:
-hand lotion & glitter (preferably 3 different colors)
-PER CHILD: 1 plate, 1 spoon, 1 clear disposable cups (small or medium size), 4-6 banana slices, red jell-o made with diced strawberries and grape pieces, 1/4 of a fruit roll-up (preferable yellow or orange -- and preferably cut into a circle, and 3 small strips of chocolate or black licorice [each about 1 inch]
-a sheet of newspaper and a spray bottle with colored water (like a Windex bottle)
-a picture book on the immune system such as “Your Body Battles a Cold” by Vicki Cobb
-water filter (such as a Brita water filter pitcher) (optional) and a picture of the lymphatic system (optional)
-name-tags with 1/3 of them having a person drawn on them, 1/3 with a rod drawn on them, and 1/3 with a puffball drawn on them
Our Favorite YouTube Videos on Skin (Integumentary System)
Create edible DNA models, made models of the insides of bones, dissect deer organs, create a working model of the respiratory system, play immune system freeze tag, and more in this fun 7-8 lesson unit on human anatomy! (An optional lesson on genetics and DNA is included.)
- Cells and DNA Lesson - This is part 1 of a 7 part hands-on unit study on anatomy of the human body. Create edible models of human cells and DNA, look at cheek cells under a microscope, and more!
- Genetics Lesson – This is an optional but very worthwhile lesson for the Human Anatomy Unit Study. Use M&M's to determine genetic traits, extract DNA from a strawberry using normal household materials, create edible DNA strands using marshmallows and licorice, design dog breeds as you select alleles, and more in this fun lesson on Genetics!
- Skeletal and Muscular Systems Lesson - This is part 2 of a 7 part hands-on unit study on anatomy of the human body. Create models of bone parts, use stickers to label the bones on your body, dissect soup bones, measure the range of motion of your joints, and more!
- Nervous System Lesson - This is part 3 of a 7 part hands-on unit study on anatomy of the human body. Create a clay model of the brain, twist together a pipe cleaner neuron, train your reflexes, dissect a deer brain and a cow eyeball (optional), and more!
- Digestive System Lesson - This is part 4 of a 7 part hands-on unit study on anatomy of the human body. Demonstrate how each part of the digestive system works using crackers, pantyhose, create teeth molds, prepare and eat a salad while discussing healthy eating habits, and more!
- Circulatory System Lesson - This is part 5 of a 7 part hands-on unit study on anatomy of the human body. Walk through your circulatory system, create a blood model and fake movie blood, measure your heart rate, dissect a heart, and more!
- Respiratory System Lesson - This is part 6 of a 7 part hands-on unit study on anatomy of the human body. Create a lung model, measure lung capacity, dissect a lung, play a respiratory relay race, and more!
- Immune System Lesson - This is part 7 of a 7 part hands-on unit study on anatomy of the human body. Play immune system freeze tag, watch how germs spread, observe bacteria under a microscope, and more!
- Human Body Unit Study Presentations and Field Trip Ideas - This is the culminating activity for the 7 part hands-on unit study on anatomy of the human body. Children presented game show themed games related to the human body or other creative presentations, and we had a systems-of-the-human-body-themed meal. Recipes are included! Also included are the field trips we attended during this unit.
Would you like to teach this way every day?
I use Konos Curriculum as a springboard from which to plan my lessons. It's a wonderful Christian curriculum and was created by moms with active children!
If you're new to homeschooling or in need of some fresh guidance, I highly recommend Konos' HomeSchoolMentor.com program! Watch videos on-line of what to do each day and how to teach it in this great hands-on format!
© 2012 Shannon
Comments, Questions, or Ideas? - Please leave a note to let me know you dropped by! I love getting feedback from you!
Shannon (author) from Florida on December 07, 2015:
Yes! We also discuss that during the digestive system lesson. They always squirm with disgusted looks when they hear how much bacteria actually makes up our body weight. :)
Meegan on October 19, 2015:
This could really scare the kids - germs multiplying inside your body. Did you teach them that there are also good bacteria that need to multiply in your gut and on the surface of your skin in order to stay healthy?
Shannon (author) from Florida on May 16, 2014:
@DavidMoses1986: Thank you!
DavidMoses1986 on May 14, 2014:
nice lens, thanks for the info.
Shannon (author) from Florida on November 22, 2012:
@GregoryMoore: Thank you!
Gregory Moore from Louisville, KY on November 22, 2012:
Great info, especially as we enter cold and flu season.
Shannon (author) from Florida on July 17, 2012:
@CameronPoe: Thank you!
Shannon (author) from Florida on July 17, 2012:
@Spiderlily321: Thank you!
CameronPoe on May 19, 2012:
There are some great tips here. And I might be a closet germophobe.
Spiderlily321 on May 19, 2012:
Great lens! There are some really good ideas here. Thanks for sharing this