Studying the human body creates excitement in my 7th grade classroom. One of the best systems to study (in my opinion) is the digestive system. I mean, we get to talk about food and taste and eating. Students enjoy the system too, because this means I will probably bring in some sort of snack to help us learn about the system in real time!
Really, we could spend weeks talking about one system in the body. However, in my class, we only have 2-3 days before we must move on. I love doing hands on activities with my students, and found several digestive simulations that I wanted to try. The simulations only take a few minutes each, so I decided to divide them up among the students.
Each group focused on one particular area of the digestive system and performed the activity as instructed. Activity sheets were filled out, and each group became responsible for understanding how their activity connected to the digestive system.
Once all the groups completed the tasks, they had to share their findings with the rest of the class. Students gave mini presentations sharing what they did, what happened, and how it relates to the digestive system.
I described two of the mini lessons below, and will post three more soon!
Digestive System Length
Students use yarn to show the length of our digestive systems. I used 4 different colors so each color could be used to represent a different organ in the system. Students measured, cut, and tied the pieces together. At the end, they could see just how long our digestive tract really is!
Yarn (4 colors if available)
Use this chart for lengths:
|Organ||Length in Centimeters|
|Small Intestine||700 cm|
|Large Intestine||150 cm|
|Total Length||895 cm|
Students like this activity because it actually involves eating. Each person in the group receives two crackers. One cracker is chewed up really quickly and swallowed. Students state that their mouths get a little dry because not much saliva was used. Next, the second cracker is placed in each of their mouths. Students allow the cracker to sit for at least a minute without chewing (allowing the saliva to do all the work). The cracker does dissolve eventually and will taste sweet in the process. The crackers demonstrate how chemical digestion works in our bodies. The chemicals in our saliva start breaking down the crackers into the sugars needed.
Crackers (at least 2 for each member of the group)
See more activity ideas in Part 2 of this post!