Inside: Curriculum and resources to build your very own homeschool unit study all about the human body
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If you’re looking for a simple and fun unit study for your kids with minimal effort on your part, this human body unit study is perfect! It’s also highly customizable (as with most things homeschool-related).
You can also choose to use it simply as a science unit OR to include your other subjects in the fun as well.
The Human Body Unit Study Resources
The following are resources we personally used (or would have loved to use) when we recently went through our human body unit study.
The Spine: the Good and the Beautiful
With unit studies (especially longer ones), it’s good to use something as the base that you can branch out from. In unit study speak, we fittingly call it the spine. It’s the jumping-off point for the rest of your study and gives it the support it needs.
For our spine, we used the Good and the Beautiful Human Body science unit. This has been named as Part 1 of this unit, and they will be releasing Part 2 at some point in the future.
Each lesson of this unit covers a different system of the body. While they recommend doing a couple lessons a week, we opted to slow down and include other resources and materials, meaning we would spend a week or more on each “lesson.” That’s with our typical week consisting of 4 days of science.
Each lesson includes factual information as well as fun hands-on activities. Book recommendations are also included in the front of the book.
At the end of each lesson is a science journal page (perfect to include in a portfolio) that includes a picture to color and a section for your child to write what they learned about that particular system.
Table of Contents
- Lesson 1 – Our Bodies
- Lesson 2 – The Skeletal System
- Lesson 3 – The Muscular System
- Lesson 4 – The Respiratory System
- Lesson 5 – The Circulatory System
- Lesson 6 – The Nervous System
- Lesson 7 – The Digestive System
- Lesson 8 – The Urinary System
- Lesson 9 – The Immune System
- Lesson 10 – The Integumentary System
Books to Include
Along with our spine, we enjoyed fun books that helped review points or bring certain aspects to life.
As a fun resource, we used 100 Things to Know About the Human Body from Usborne. Sometimes, I would search for facts about a specific system and have them prepared prior to a lesson. Other times, we would read random facts during snack time or even in place of a science lesson if we needed to pause for a day or two before picking up where we left off.
Usborne also has some other great body-related titles such as:
- The Complete Book of the Human Body
- First Encyclopedia of the Human Body
- The Human Body, Shine-a-Light Book
- Lift-the-Flap How Your Body Works
- Lift-the-Flap Questions and Answers About Your Body
- Look Inside Your Body
- I Breathe
- What Are Germs?
- Why Should I Brush My Teeth?
- See Inside Germs
There are also many others. Some topics covered include potty-related questions, puberty, and where babies come from. We don’t have any of those books yet, so I don’t know how they handle those topics. Because of that, I don’t want to recommend them. I do hope to get some of those in the future though and check them out!
Magic School Bus
We also read two of the Magic School Bus books: The Search for the Missing Bones and The Giant Germ. The first had a slight touch of mystery while the other followed more of the traditional Magic School Bus format we’ve come to know.
The Search for the Missing Bones is centered around Halloween. So if it’s not something your family celebrates (we don’t anymore, but I didn’t realize it was Halloween-related when I bought it), that’s something to be aware of. We decided to read it anyway, and it was very good for reviewing the names of bones we’d learned.
Videos and Media
The website for the Good and the Beautiful says that they are working on future videos to accompany the science unit, but there’s no specified time on when those will be ready.
But we can easily find videos from other sources that pair nicely too!
Human Body 101 by National Geographic (5:11)
The Human Body: the Heart by Happy Learning (5:41)
A Journey Inside Your Body by Bright Side (9:11)
The Magic School Bus | For Lunch
The Magic School Bus | Inside Ralphie
There are also interactive online activities that you can find on National Geographic that let your child explore different parts of the human body.
Other than the hands-on activity ideas included in the lessons (play-doh brains, a model of the blood, and fingerprinting to name a few), I bought a few extra hands-on materials that the kids could look at and play with at any time during our human body unit.
First, the Squishy Human Body was a big hit. I actually used him as an introduction to the entire unit. We spent the morning opening him up, taking out his parts, and learning how he functions.
After that day, the kids could pull him out and play with him anytime they wanted (as long as they put him back together again). Their favorite way to play with him was by pretending they were surgeons and he was their patient. They had literally hours of fun with this guy.
Second, I got the My Body Systems play cards. The older kids were the first to want to read the cards and build their person. But in the end, our two-year-old Aspen liked these the most. He loved to mix and match the cards to see different systems of the body. He even learned several new science words. Plus he got to feel included in our unit study in the process!
Finally, I also purchased this fun apron with different organs attached to the front with velcro. The kids absolutely loved this thing. They played with it almost as often as they did the Squishy Human Body man. They also played surgeons with the apron, taking turns putting it on themselves and pretending to be the patient.
Through using these toys, it was amazing how quickly they learned organ names and functions!
Lesson Planning and Set-Up
For each unit that we do, I have a station set up that serves as our home base. Our hands-on activities are kept here as well as a few books. At any time the kids can come by and play with or read about whatever they want.
As far as lesson structuring, we focused on the human body solely for our science. Each week (roughly) we would focus on one lesson. We expanded certain lessons to last for two weeks if I had extra material to cover. The following is a basic overview of each week (feel free to play with it, and make it your own!):
- Monday: Intro to lesson. This usually includes some reading from our curriculum and a short hands-on activity.
- Tuesday: Talk about any vocab and help the kids create a mental picture of how the system works. (This may include making a model or using other hands-on materials depending on the lesson.)
- Wednesday: No official science lesson (it’s art day!); read a book relevant to our current lesson during read-aloud time.
- Thursday: Finish up any material from the curriculum; watch a video related to the system.
- Friday: Fill out our science journals and see what they’ve retained!
If there was a chapter book related to our lesson, I would use the following week to read the chapter book during science time to help solidify concepts and vocabulary.
There is no set or specific formula for how to structure your own unit study. It’s a matter of taking what you want your children to know, breaking it down into bite-sized chunks, and allowing them to explore the subject as far as their curiosity can take them.
Including Other Subjects
While we mainly focused on science for this unit, you can choose to center all of their subjects around the human body. Here are some ideas for each subject.
Math is probably the most tricky subject when doing a unit study. Some things can be unit-related, but it’s not usually practical for every math lesson during the duration of your study to involve the human body. For example, telling time isn’t something that easily relates to the body. You may be able to do certain exercises where you record the time taken for a certain thing in the body, but that doesn’t really teach the concept.
Unit-related math lessons can be used as you see fit, but we personally will always do their formal math lessons as well. Here are a few ideas to incorporate math into your study.
- Measure and compare body limbs
- Count and compare number of teeth (greater than, less than, equal to)
- Multiply “germs” (use puff balls, beans, counting cubes, or something else that you have a lot of)
- Adding and subtracting word problems with bones. (Example: We’re doing an archaeological dig and find the remains of a human adult from long ago. In one area, we find 23 bones. In the second area, we find 81 bones. If all these bones belong to the same person, how many are we missing?)
- Copywriting vocabulary, facts, or quotes that are pertinent to the human body
- Assigning human-body-related reading assignments for each child (search your local library for age-appropriate fits)
- Using human body terms to talk about grammatical devices and parts of speech (nouns found in the body, verbs that the body does, adjectives to describe the body, etc.)
- Human-body-themed creative writing prompts
- Human Body ABC’s – As you’re studying, write a human body word for each letter of the alphabet. Try to have all of them filled by the end of the unit.
- Study the history of modern medicine, starting with the ancients
- Read living books from physicians and scientists through history (or ones about their lives that are exciting and interesting)
What do you think? Do you know of other helpful resources for a human body unit? Drop them in the comments below!
Until next time,
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