Friday, September 30, 2011

Boning up on Our Skeleton

It’s that time a year when skeletons are all around us.  Many children find them fascinating, while others may be a little afraid.  This week’s activity will uses Halloween decorations to help our budding scientists learn what’s going on under their skin.  Next week we will build on that knowledge to see how many animals have similar bodies to ours even if they look very different from the outside. 
Parent  Background Guide   Our skeletal system provides the scaffolding that holds our bodies upright.  It supports and protects the organs and serves as an anchor point for the muscles that allow both large and small movements.  There are approximately 206 bones while some individuals have more or less because some bones fuse together or fail to fuse together over time.   The skeleton makes up 30-40% of the weight of the human body.  
This week’s activity
Masking Tape
One paper skeleton for each child – many are available that are around 3 foot tall which would be preferable for this activity.  Dollar Tree or other “Everything is $1” stores are a good source for this item.
You can also make your own using this link:
Paper skeleton prepared for
my four year olds.
Preparation:   Take or cut apart the skeleton at the major joints.  Determine how many parts to divide the skeleton into based upon your child’s age and attentions span.  For example, for older toddlers you may want to leave the arms and legs in one piece.  For preschoolers you will probably want to separate the leg into three segments, upper leg (  ), lower leg, and foot.  I would not suggest separating the bones of hands and feet.    If you desire and the skull is of the correct size, make the skull into a mask so that the child can wear it.
Discovery time:  Now it’s time to play match the body parts, help your child to match the bones up to their body, when they guess correctly, use masking tape to tape the bones to their clothes.  If they don’t guess correctly keep trying different parts on until you child is wearing a skeleton.  My children loved to look at themselves in our large mirror.  HINT – help your children to understand that we are symmetrical, that if they find a leg bone on one side,  the one on the other side will look the same. 
Tying it together:  Now that your child has a skeleton that they can see it is time to explain that there is one under our skin as well.  I did this by having my children gently push on hard parts of their bodies like their arms and soft parts of their bodies like their bellies.  You can discuss how the hard parts are where their bones are and that the bones help them to walk and play by giving their body structure.  You could make a comparison also to their hard and soft toys, sometimes hard toys like toy cars can move on their own whereas their soft stuffed animals are stuck in one place.  Our bones are wonderful things!
Adaptations:  If your child is sensitive to sensory stimuli and may not like you to tape the items to their clothing you could use this adaptation:  Have the child lie down on a piece of cardboard or large piece of paper and trace their outline.  You can then match the bones up to their “body” without making them uncomfortable.
Fun Facts

•  Your thigh bone, the femur is the longest bone in your body-- it's about 1/4 of your height.
• The bone responsible for your ability to hear, the stirrup bone in the ear, is the smallest bone in your body which can measure 1/10 of an inch.
• Did you know that humans and giraffes have the same number of bones in their
necks? Giraffe neck vertebrae are just much longer, about the length of a human forearm.
Thank you and your little scientists for exploring with us!  Today’s activity was a first for The Preschool Scientist so please let me know what you liked and didn’t like about the activity, information, and format.  I will be creating activities for my family and yours and posting one each weekend.  Please see my page information if you would like to know how I have structured the “curriculum” for this website.  I hope to give you ideas about enjoying the world around us with your children and preparing them for kindergarten by addressing the same types of content they will see in their first year of school.  Check back on Tuesdays for a short toddler activity on the same topic.  From my home to yours, happy inquiring!

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