The past few weeks, we have been studying the digestive system. We had studied the digestive system a number of years ago, but now that the kids are older (4th, 7th, 9th), I wanted to go into more depth — especially about the small intestine, liver, gall bladder, pancreas and large intestine. We talked about how different parts of the digestive tract functions and the role bile and pancreatic juice has in the digestion of food. Plus, we spent time talking about fiber and vitamins.
As we started off this unit, we went over the basics about how the digestive tract functions. This was the quick review page they did:
I made a new digestive system flap book activity that the kids put together one day while I was reading from our science book (about the digestive system). 🙂
Then, we went over the Small Intestine; Liver, Gall Bladder, Pancreas; and Large Intestine. We talked about how food is transformed along the way, first in the mouth (when saliva mixes with the food) to form a bolus. Then in the stomach strong acid is mixed with the food. As food then moves into the first portion of the small intestine, the duodenum, bile and pancreatic juice is added. The food is now called chyme. It moves through the small intestine and enters the cecum, the first portion of the large intestine where bacteria mix in and the food/mixture becomes feces. Finally, it moves through the large intestine where it leaves the body as excrement.
As we talked about each section, the kids colored in these great aprons I purchased at Oriental Trading.
As you can see, the apron was detailed enough that we could color in the different parts of the small intestine — the duodenum, jejunum, and ileum (which the kids did in different shades of purple and pink below).
They also colored in the different parts of the large intestine — the cecum, ascending colon, transverse colon, descending colon, sigmoid colon, rectum and anus (in yellow/orange or yellow/red in the picture below).
They really enjoyed coloring in the aprons (even my 9th grade son!).
Note: If you purchased this packet previously, you should have gotten an email from SendOwl (the delivery service I use) with your download link. If you have any trouble or can’t find that email, be sure to drop me an email and I will get that to you right away! ~Liesl
When we talked about the intestines, we did a fun hands-on activity using panty hose. We had done this several years ago, but it was just as big a hit this time around! I made a large batch of oatmeal and cut the toes off the panty hose. The kids put the oatmeal in the “mouth” and then squeezed the food down the digestive tract, just like muscles move the chyme (partly digested food) along.
We talked about the fact that you can eat or drink lying down… or even standing on your head. That’s because the muscles move the food along.
The kids squeezed the oatmeal in the panty hole until little bits of oatmeal oozed out. I said this was similar to when the food has been broken down into small bits and the nutrients pass through the small intestine wall — from the villi to the blood vessels. (We looked closely at the villi which you can see on the notebook page above).
Writing Assignment: As we concluded this portion of our unit, I had the kids write about food’s journey from beginning to end. They had to write about the changes food undergoes as it makes its way along – from a bite of food to bolus to chyme to feces to excrement. There are writing paper options, one with the assignment I had my kids do and one that is more generic that just says “Digestive System.” You can use that for your kids to write on a topic that you assign them. 🙂
New 30-page Nutrition Section (Coming to the Digestive System Packet in the next week or so. Look for the update email from SendOwl-the delivery service I use!)
The last portion of our unit this time was about nutrition.
We talked about fiber and why it is so important in our diet. We looked at
- What is fiber?
- How much fiber do people need?
- Where do you get fiber in your diet?
- What does fiber do in our digestive system and how does it work?
- What’s the difference between soluble and insoluble fiber?
And finally, the kids did an activity identifying foods that are high in fiber. Below you can see the food chart, the kids were given the chart with words or pictures missing and they had to cut those out and glue them onto their notebook page:
The last activity we’ll be doing in this unit is about vitamins. We’ll be going over what the various vitamins do and will talk about some of the problems someone can have when they are deficient in a particular vitamin. We’ll be finishing this up this week, I’ll add a bit more about these activities in a few days. 🙂
Again, those will be added to the end of the Digestive System Packet once we’ve finished. 🙂
The last time we studied the digestive system, we did a whole range of hands-on activities from making our own epiglottis to seeing how the digestive tract works (how nutrients pass through). We made “fake”vomit, measured out the length of the digestive system and more! These are some of the notebook pages and lapbook/interactive notebook pages that are included in our Digestive System Packet:
- Part I: Digestive System — Mouth
- Part II: Digestive System — Swallowing, How the epiglottis works
- Part III: Digestive System — The Digestive Tract
- This packet also include lapbook pieces for interactive notebooks.
You can find out even more about what is included in the Digestive System Packet at this post. With all the new material, the Digestive System Packet
Our Digestive System Packet is $5.99. It is over 100 pages!
Once you pay for this packet, you will immediately receive a link to download this file (which will open in a browser window). You will also receive an email from Sendowl (the service I use), which will have a link you can click on to download the Digestive System Unit. (It will say, “You can download your digital products…” with a clickable link.) Of course, if you have any issues just email me at — liesl at homeschoolden dot com. You can also reach me by using the contact form on the blog.
Don’t forget to check your PayPal email address for the download link!
We had two books we really used a lot for these units: Human Anatomy Coloring Book (affiliate link) has pages you can print out and color in.
And the The Body Book: Easy-to-Make Hands-on Models That Teach (affiliate link) has really neat models that you can make. We did the joints, bones of the body (see our model here), and some other things, but more about those in those other posts.
These are some of the packets that are included in our Human Body Bundle. These packets can be purchase separately or you can purchase all of them in one bundle. I included some photos of these packets below.
$22.00 BUNDLE OPTION HUMAN BODY: Human Body Systems, A Study of Cells Unit, Skeletal System Worksheet Packet, Digestive System, Circulatory System Unit (Plus, it includes the rough draft version of our muscular system packet which is not yet available publicly.)
- Cell Packet – Quick Preview
- Human Body Systems Quick Preview
- Skeletal System Packet – Quick Preview
- Digestive System Packet Preview
- Circulatory System Packet – Quick Preview
If you have any questions, feel free to contact me! ~Liesl
Each year usually in the spring semester, we focus on the human body.
We often spend a little bit of time reviewing what we learned the previous year and then add to what we learned.
If you have younger kids, you might want to just jump right in with the Skeletal System Unit and/or the Digestive System Unit.
Once my kids were a little older (with my youngest in 2nd grade and my older two in upper elementary) – we started covering and reviewing Cells (the organelles and their function) each year. I want them to feel comfortable with the names and have a general idea of the “jobs” each of these organelles have. By reviewing it each spring, they’ve gradually come to understand how these work together a little better each year. That will be helpful once they get to high school level biology.
If you have a student who is 8+ you might want to do the units in this order:
Note: Since our family studies one major system each year, sometimes we skim over some of this so we can dive in depth into that particular body system.
- Cell Unit
- Photosynthesis (and you can do a little tangent about atoms and building molecules)
- Human Body Systems (Depending on the age of your kids, you might want to just introduce them to the major human body systems and then move straight on to one of the units below… or you can spend a little time talking about how cells/tissues/organs/body systems work as a whole. The packet you are getting includes ALL the materials, but I’ve added to this over the course of several years, so don’t feel like you need to cover all of this at once!
- Skeletal System – We almost always review the major bones of the body each year. Some years, we go into more depth about things like the structure of bones or the axial system. Other times, we review the major bones and move on!
- Digestive System – This was a fun, hands-on unit. I would suggest you do this one before the Circulatory System unit.
- Circulatory System – In this unit my kids were in elementary and middle school so we did some data collecting, graphing and other activities. If you have younger kids, you can just focus on the blood system (how blood leaves the heart and enters the lungs to pick up oxygen, then returns to the heart where it is sent off to the extremities).
- Muscular System – We will be covering this next year (2018, fingers crossed!). This is a VERY ROUGH DRAFT of this packet… and I even hesitated including it in the bundle, but in the end thought it might come in handy if you cover this material before we do! When we get to this unit and when the file is updated you will get an email from SendOwl (the delivery service I use) letting you know!
Here are some screen shots of these units:
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