Introduction to the Body

(a 3-5 Human Body/Health lesson plan)

From the unit: How does my body work?

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Students learn about some of the body's major organs.
Standards and Benchmarks
AAAS Benchmarks
  • The brain gets signals from all parts of the body telling what is going on there. The brain also sends signals to parts of the body to influence what they do.
  • Food provides energy and materials for growth and repair of body parts. Vitamins and minerals, present in small amounts in foods, are essential to keep everything working well. As people grow up, the amounts and kinds of food and exercise needed by the body may change.
Students will understand the function of the major organs of the body.
Class Time Needed
Two class periods
Internet access (or, information copied from Internet, text, etc.)
Science Background

How do the parts of my body work together?
The body is made up of several different systems, including the ones we are going to talk about in this unit: respiratory, skeletal, nervous and circulatory, and digestive.

Respiratory. The respiratory system supplies oxygen to the blood and gets rid of waste gases. When a person inhales, the skeletal muscles and diaphragm contract, which enlarges the chest cavity and draws air into the lungs. The air passes through the nose, trachea, and then into the lungs. Oxygen diffuses from the inhaled air through the alveoli of the lungs and into the blood. When a person breathes out, the skeletal muscles and diaphragm return to the relaxed position, decreasing the size of the chest cavity, forcing the air out.

Skeletal. The skeletal system is made up of bones, tendons, and ligaments. The skeleton provides shape and symmetry to the body, provides protection, acts as a base for the attachment of muscles, and the tissues inside the cells make red and white blood cells.

Nervous. The nervous system sends, receives, and processes nerve impulses throughout the body. All of the organs and muscles inside the body rely on these nerve impulses in order to function. Sense organs such as the nose and eyes provide the nervous system with information about the environment. Nerves are connected throughout the whole body to the brain. The nerves carry information to the brain.

Circulatory. The circulatory system controls the flow of blood around the body. The main components of the circulatory systems are the heart, veins, capillaries and arteries. The heart is a very strong muscles that pumps blood. The heart pumps blood through the aorta. This blood is then transported throughout the body through the arteries (and returns to the heart through veins).

Digestive. The digestive system is responsible for processing food and breaking it down into forms the body can use. The digestive process starts in the mouth with the chewing and saliva breaking down food. The food then goes down the espophagus to the stomach. The stomach contains juices the further break down the food. The digested food then passes to the small intestine. The nutrients are absorbed into the body through the small intestine, leaving unusable residue. This residue passes through the colon or large intestine to the rectum.

Part One: K-W-L
  1. Create a chart on the board or poster paper where students discuss what they Know about the human body and its different parts. Try to touch on each of the different systems that they will be discussing (respiratory, skeletal, nervous and circulatory, and digestive).
  2. Then write what students want to Learn on the chart. These should be in the forms of questions - ideally with "why" stems. Questions can then be posted somewhere in the room. If there is time, the questions that are not answered can be researched by students as an assignment or for extra credit at the end of the unit.
Part Two: Researching Organ Function

1. Write the names of the following organs on the board:
  • Heart
  • Stomach
  • Skin
  • Lungs
  • Brain
2. Ask students, What do you think each of these organs do? How do these organs help you live? Facilitate a discussion around their answers. Encourage as many students to share as possible.
  • Do not correct students' misunderstandings at this point.
[?] Why should my students ask and answer questions in science?
[?] How can I help my students ask and answer questions in science?

3. Explain the task to students by giving them the following scenario: Pretend you are a body organ. As a body organ, you are an employee of the Human Body Corporation. Due to recent cost increases, the Human Body is having to fire workers. Your job is to write a letter to the Human Body Corporation defending your position in the company. In this letter, you need to describe to the corporation the following characteristics of your organ and explain why you are important to the Human Body Corporation. You may want to add other information in order to convince them of your importance!!
  • Name of organ and where it is located
  • Describe your main functions as an organ
  • Tell the corporation how you perform these functions
  • Tell the corporation why you are important and why they should not fire you
  • Explain what might happen to the body if they fire you
4. For research, you may want to allow students to search the Internet. If there is not enough time for this, you can have students use their text and/or make copies of the pertinent information from the Internet or other resources. Option: You may want to have each student research each organ. They can then write a letter on the organ of their choice.
[?] Why should students collect evidence to answer questions?
[?] How can I help my students collect evidence?

5. Once students have written a rough draft of the letter, have them exchange it with a classmate. They should critique one another's work according to the criteria discussed above.

6. Have several students (representing different organs) read their letters aloud.

7. Engage students in a debate about which organ/organs they should fire and which ones they should keep!
[?] Why should students communicate and justify their findings?
[?] How can I help my students communicate and justify their findings?

Author(s): CASES Team

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