I went to nursing school several years ago, dropping out before finishing so I could have my third child. I've always been interested in medicine and human anatomy and physiology, so it only follows that I'm excited about teaching my children about it too.
We've been reading through the Usborne Science Encyclopedia for science, and we've just moved into the section on the human body. Earlier this week we talked about the circulatory system, so in an effort to help the kids understand the flow of blood around the body, I came up with this hands-on activity (I am NOT a fan of worksheets, fill-in-the-blank, etc. so I'm always looking for a creative way to get the information into my kids' long-term memory).
I wrote out the (12) names of the major parts of the circulatory system on 4X6 cards, and then had the kids lay out the cards in the correct order, but in the shape of a clock, reinforcing the cyclical nature of the circulatory system. It turned out really well, and provided a really strong visual that the kids seemed to latch on to. Even my 3rd grader lays it out with no problem.
Here are the terms I used. They are numbered according to their position on the clock face:
- pulmonary veins
- left atrium
- left ventricle
- vena cava
- right atrium
- right ventricle
- pulmonary arteries
When the clock is laid out correctly, the lungs are at 12 and the capillaries are at 6, illustrating nicely that the lungs are where the blood takes on oxygen, and the capillaries are where they deliver it.
The other terms are also paired up nicely across from each other.
For example, the vena cava is at 8 and the aorta at 4—these two structures are similar in structure and function, but one carries away from the heart and the other toward the heart. Likewise, the pulmonary arteries and the pulmonary veins are at 11 and 1, the veins and arteries are at 7 and 5, and the right and left sides of the heart are at 9 & 10 and 2 & 3.