My girls and I embarked upon a study of the human body several weeks (months?) ago now, and it has by far been their favorite thing we’ve done this year. I was feeling a little guilty about not having done a whole lot of science with them this year (and their daddy a science teacher, no less! 😉 ), so one day I did a little searching over at The Well Trained Mind forums, and I hit upon the idea of a human body study. Some of these books were recommended there; others of them were serendipitous library finds. In addition to using these general books, we also read nonfiction series titles from the different libraries in our area. These, however, are definitely the winners.
This Janice VanCleave book has sold me on her approach and her various series of books! Janice VanCleave’s Play and Find Out about the Human Body: Easy Experiments for Young Children has been my guidebook throughout this unit. So far we have done several of the experiments contained in the book, and we’ve managed to have a fairly thorough discussion of skin, the heart, and the skeletal system. The experiments require fairly basic equipment, and they’re not very complicated to put together. After all, they are for preschoolers! 🙂 I purchased this one used through Amazon, so I’m not sure if it’s still in print. If you ever see a copy, snatch it up! I give it a Highly Recommended! (The pictures below are all of our experiments based on this book. Steady Eddie even got in on the action!)
First Human Body Encyclopedia from the DK First Reference Series is our “spine”; that is, it is the book we use for all of our basic information. To be honest, before I used this book with my girls, I never understood what was so great about the DK books. The huge pictures and the blurbs of information always seemed so disjointed to me. Now, though, I see the value of a book written in this format. The little snippets of information and the large, excellent photographs (and some drawings) are perfect for young children. I would not hesitate to purchase any of the DK First Reference titles, and I would consider any of them money well spent. I can see my girls using this book for many years.
Me and My Amazing Body by Joan Sweeney is another book that I consider indispensible as an introduction to the human body. This nonfiction book is written more as a story, so it draws the little ones in very quickly. It covers the major body systems, and while it provides very few details, it provides the information in a very preschooler-friendly way. I am guessing that any of Joan Sweeney’s “Me” books would be a winner, and I’ll definitely be using them for our future studies!
Inside Your Outside!: All About the Human Body by Tish Rabe bears mentioning mainly because it’s written all in rhyme. It’s from the Cat in the Hat’s Learning Library. I find these books a little hard to follow (and so I assume that my children probably don’t comprehend them totally, either 😉 ), but the rhymes are fun and so are the illustrations. It provides a good little educational diversion. 🙂
This last book is one I just spied on the shelf at the library. It’s entitled Body: An Interactive and Three-Dimensional Exploration, and that pretty much sums it up. It’s really more of an upper-elementary or high school book, but I thought my girls would love the pop-ups it contains. I was right! These pop-ups are amazing–they’re all truly three-dimensional with moving parts and fold-outs, etc. On the last page there’s a human body that opens up in layers. Susan Ring is the author of Body, and Michele Graham did the amazing illustrations.
Mainly what we’ve done with this unit is a whole lot of reading and looking and a little bit of playing. I think this is just right for kindergarten.
I do have to share one funny, though. I had this exchange with Louise, who takes everything in just as intensely as Lulu:
Louise: Is Daddy taller than himself?
Me: No, he can’t be taller than himself. He can be taller than someone else, but not himself.
Louise: What about when his root gets squished down?
It finally dawned on me that she was talking about his spinal column (“root”) and how it compresses during the day. One of the experiments we started but never finished due to the plague that hit our house was one in which I measured the girls first thing in the morning and then again that night. Since the night-time measurement never happened, I simply explained to them that the discs between the vertebrae in our backs are compressed (“squished down”) as we stand and walk throughout the day, so we’re shorter at night than in the morning.
We still have a couple more body systems to go, and I find that I enjoy it more if we take a little break with some FIAR titles, etc., between body systems. However, the girls are quick to request the human body books and science experiments again, so I’m not off the hook for long.
ETA: Oh, I forgot to mention one more thing we did during our (ongoing) human body study. We’re always working on scripture memorization. We primarily do this during our morning “couch time”. For this particular study, we worked on memorizing Psalm 139: 13-18.
13 For you created my inmost being;
you knit me together in my mother’s womb.
14 I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
your works are wonderful,
I know that full well.
15 My frame was not hidden from you
when I was made in the secret place.
When I was woven together in the depths of the earth,
16 your eyes saw my unformed body.
All the days ordained for me
were written in your book
before one of them came to be.
17 How precious to [b] me are your thoughts, O God!
How vast is the sum of them!
18 Were I to count them,
they would outnumber the grains of sand.
When I awake,
I am still with you.
The girls did very well with this, and it was particularly appropriate since I’m currently a living example of the “secret place” where babies grow and develop. 😉 We’ve memorized several longer passages of scripture, but my problem is systematically reviewing them. I have had a pretty family Bible memory notebook in the works for months now, but I never make the time to finish it. Does your family have a particular method for keeping memory passages fresh in your minds?