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For Children: A Fun Way To Learn About The Human Body

by Sarah on April 29, 2011

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In this post I’m about to reveal to you one of the secrets to making family fitness work.

This secret rests within your children.

And like the post from last week about discoveries and fitness, this post tells you exactly how to tap into this magic family fitness ingredient.

Certainly, despite their built-in wiggles, kids sometimes are reluctant to budge from their seats.  Screen time has made this even more of a problem.

But inside, your little ones hold a powerful motivator that can transform them from couch potatoes into family fitness advocates.  It’s an ingredient that we all have.  But as we get on through life, we start to pile other “important” ideas and things on top of it until it’s just about suffocated.

But if you can tap into this special something with your kids – especially when they’re young – three-quarters of the battle is won.

In fact, if you’re not careful, you might end up being egged on by these new converts to jump up, run, play tag, sing and skip eight times a day!

What’s this special ingredient?

Curiosity.

When you turn fitness into a process of discovery, you can transform would-be couch potatoes into indefatigable researchers and explorers.

In the last post, I provided a slew of simple activities that can bring out the fitness investigator in your children (and you!).

Today I offer just one. But it’s a journey into itself. And to make it even more exciting, I’ve added a bunch of recommended resources.

Use Body Maps To Learn About The Human Body And Nurture Your Children’s Curiosity

Kids love to draw and create.  And they love it even more when it has to do with them.

So today’s project is to make a special life-size poster of their body.  But this is a very special project.  Because it will not only be their creation, but it will also be a map of their exploration.

Like Lewis and Clark, they will be traveling to parts unknown and documenting their discoveries.  Their body posters will be the map they create based on what they learn.

Unfortunately, we can’t actually make this journey like true explorers. But we can do the next best thing.  We can imagine.

Here’s what you need:

-    Big newsprint paper in a roll or a bunch of poster size paper taped together
-    Pens, crayons, markers, or pencils
-    (Optional) A few great children’s books about the human body.

Here’s what you do:

Tell your kids you’re now a bunch of explorers and you’re going to make a map of your body. You’re going to find out where food and oxygen goes in order to be transformed into the power that allows you to move.

Take a big sheet of newsprint and have each child lie on top of it.  If you have newsprint paper in a roll this is easier.  But if you just have big pads of paper, you can tape some together to make it big enough.

Careful not to tickle, trace their body with a magic marker or crayon.

Now pose two questions to your kids:

First question:

Imagine you are a cracker. Where do you go once someone pops you in their mouth?

Here’s where you can dig into one of the good books I recommend below.  But even if you’re referring to a book, also allow for imaginative discussion. Collectively think through the cracker’s journey.

And as you talk or read, map the journey on their body map.

Here are a few “talking points”:

1.    You get crunched up and mixed with saliva in the mouth.
2.    Gulp! You get swallowed and go right down the throat to the stomach.
3.    In the stomach you get mixed in with acids that break you down further.
4.    After the stomach you enter the intestines, where you get digested even further and then absorbed into the blood.
5.    Via the blood you get distributed to every single cell that needs some yummy cracker nourishment.

Take your time, allow them to draw out this journey. Their mapping doesn’t have to be accurate. This is not Gray’s Anatomy!  Just help them get somewhat regional using one of the books for reference.

Allow for creativity! Let their imaginations create what the trip looks like.

Okay, time for question two:

Let’s pretend you’re a bit of oxygen in the air. Where do you go when someone breathes you in?

Again use the book and collectively narrate where this oxygen molecule goes . . .

1.    Through the nose or the mouth into your throat.
2.    Flow with the air into the lungs where a nice blood cell picks you up.
3.    This blood cell buddy takes you to the heart.  From here you and your blood cell partner get pumped out to the rest of the body.
4.    End up getting dropped off at a muscle cell in your leg. Here you help the cell turn the yummy cracker nourishment into ENERGY.

Let them go to work with crayons and colors to map out what’s inside their body.

Use the books I suggest as reference. But most important is the process of imagining about what’s going on in their body.  And focusing on what’s going on inside of them.

Have fun with it. Some of the children’s books I recommend about the human body have some great examples. Like Ms. Frizzle and her Magic Schoolbus crew.

For example, imagine clinging onto your blood cell buddy for dear life as it whooshes through the artery.

Envision that yummy cracker nourishment transforming into ENERGY.

When you map this journey together, you transform fitness into an epic adventure that your body goes through every day.

And thanks to the spark of curiosity you’ve created together, taking care of your body has a whole new meaning.

What do you think about this? Do you have ideas to add? Please comment:

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