A slimy cow’s eye, a wrinkly sheep’s brain, a tough pig’s heart, x-rays, and more. These are the tools we used last school year in our study of anatomy. We took a nice leisurely trip through the systems of the human body and greatly enjoyed the journey! As the base for our studies we used Sonlight curriculum’s Science F, but replaced a book of worksheets with The Body Book, a super cool text that has you build a paper model of the human body step-by-step as you learn about each body system. The kids really enjoyed creating paper models of themselves! The book also contained several other paper models as well, such as a model of human skin, a model of the eye, and a model of the ear.
In addition to the Body Book, we made a few purchases on Amazon.com to add more hands-on activities. I found an inexpensive otoscope and we took turns looking into each other’s ears to find the eardrum. Amazon also had a cool flannel graph set of very realistic drawings of the body systems. The set came with a fun book giving interesting facts about the various organs and their functions.
I also found a great source for inexpensive dissection kits. We ordered them on Amazon and then Bryan brought them back to Japan when he returned from a business trip. Since my kids are huge animal lovers, I decided not to order any kits that involved dissecting whole animals (such as a frog) because I thought it would be too traumatic. I decided to go with a sheep’s brain, a pig’s heart, and a cow’s eye, which we dissected at different times during the year, but in that order. Somehow, the sheep’s brain seemed the least intimidating so we started with that. We saved the cow’s eye for last since that one seemed the most creepy to me and we invited our fun-loving friend Len to join us for that dissection so we could laugh while doing it. It was so interesting to actually feel the difference between gray matter and white matter for ourselves, learn that hearts actually have heart strings (and see them!) and touch the parts of an actual eyeball! The kits came with instruction booklets for how to do the dissection and what to look for, but we also used Youtube to find some very helpful videos that took us step by step through the dissections and gave interesting information about the part of the body we were dissecting.
In addition, I ordered a set of x-rays for building a two-dimensional human skeleton. The kids followed the instructions for assembling it and we hung it up on our homeschool window so the light would shine through and we could see it better.
The textbooks that came with our science curriculum were very interesting and fun to read, but the hands-on activities we added definitely made our science studies come alive! This was a science unit that we will all remember for a long time!