Ideas for a Unit Study on the Human Body

Boy, am I excited about this one!  Max is still on the fence – he’s concerned that we’ll be looking at pictures of intestines and hearts, bless his little worried heart.  I intend to make this unit as fun as can be while we learn all about how complex and wonderful and mind-boggling our bodies are!  These few resources highlighted below are the beginning of my search for the next six-week period of schooling.  Next week is off (hooray!).  We both need that week to reassemble ourselves.  After that we’ll be trying hard to avoid pictures of intestines at all costs.

I majored in pre-med in college and then did a few years of bench research for a university, for a hospital, and for a pharmaceutical company, all in the area of immunology.  I’m particularly excited about unveiling the way our immune system works to Max – just because it’s so cool.  I hope he thinks so, too.  I need to remind myself that he’s only ten and probably isn’t all that jazzed about the major histocompatibility complex, or antigens, or how an enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay works and why it is important.  This is going to be a GREATLY simplified look at how we are put together and what amazing things our bodies do without us even being aware of the goings on most of the time.

I wrote a post on Slim Goodbody (John Burnstein) not too long ago (here) – we saw him recently in our city and really enjoyed his approach.  His main message was to encourage kids to be good to their bodies.  I purchased his activity book when we attended the show, so we’ll begin with it, but the first books listed below are his new publications tailored for 9 to 12 year olds – they look great!

I have not selected the exact materials we’ll be working with, but have narrowed the options down. Fortunately, there are many very good books and games available, so enjoy yourself while perusing.

Click on the pictures to link to Amazon and other places for more information:

By Slim Goodbody, John Burnstein

Let’s hope there are not graphic pictures of the intestines in here!

John Burnstein (Slim Goodbody) also has two others about the respiratory system and the nervous system available on Amazon.

This one is already on our shelf, about to be unveiled!  I LOVE Brown Paper School publications, so am looking forward to using this very much.  In fact, this would be probably all we would need along with a few supplementary materials to cover a pretty thorough introduction to the human body.  Here is a post about other Brown Paper School products – they come highly recommended by many sources and are popular among homeschoolers.  If you’ve never heard of them, go take a look!

Later……we started it and so far so good!  Thorough, entertaining, and factually accurate.  What more could you ask for?

Good introduction to cells and their structures.  Written by Frances Balkwill – she has written several books for kids about the body.

Also written by Frances Balkwill; this one will be helpful in explaining how our bodies fight infection – the immune system!

Looks fiendishly fun, although I can already see that I’ll need to put a book cover on this book…….  The product description says, “The Body Owner’s Handbook is the guide you simply can’t live without. You’ll discover a range of fantastic features you didn’t even know you had, including: an auto-repair function, a built-in cooling system, top-of-the range sensory equipment, and rear gas and waste disposal. So you think you can stomach the sick side of science? This mad manual shows you how to get the best from your body machine. Get the lowdown on the pluses of pus, the vitals of vomit and the science of snot. With trouble-shooting tips, terrific tests and curious quizzes, The Body Owner’s Handbook is bursting with info! Science has never been so horrible!”

Just because DK books are visually pleasing.

Head to Toe Science:  Over 40 Eye-Popping, Spine-Tingling, Heart-Pounding Activities that Teach Kids about the Human Body by Jim Wiese.  This will get kids moving and at the same time engage some scientific inquiry.  Lots of experiments and investigations about our bodies.

If you have some time to assemble these, they could be very helpful.

Okay, to be honest, Mrs. Frizzle’s voice kind of grates on my nerves, so we haven’t done too much with The Magic School Bus series.  I would prefer to read this book over watching the corresponding DVD.  Lots of families love this series – wish I could cope with Mrs. Frizzle a bit better……

Here is the DVD that goes with the book:

The Magic School Bus:  Journey into the Human Body GAME (hooray!)

“Young Scientists bend bones, make joints, map taste buds, expand lungs, build a stethoscope, measure lung capacities and heart rates, perform the iodine starch test, spin glitter, simulate synovial fluid, create a human body poster, and much, much more.”  Recommended for ages up to ten.

Ooooo.  Might have struck gold, here.  This is an interactive DVD that gets kids involved in the study of the human body.  Created for grades 4-8 and meets National Science Standards, so that tells me it might be a bit more thorough.  I don’t necessarily buy into standards, but that’s just me.  Includes short (5 minute) practice tests that are multiple choice, songs, excellent 3-D models, which in and of themselves probably make this DVD worthwhile.  It helps to see the workings of the human body in 3-D.  Note that a motive for producing this DVD is to help kids improve their abilities to take standardized tests, so take that into consideration.  Overall I like it and will look for it or order it.

We have this book, too, and I’ve been saving it for this unit.  The first part of the book is called, “Exploring Yourself” and you learn about your eyes, ears, nose, tongue, hands and brain with silly activities and experiments.  Should be lots of fun to work through – I think Max is going to really like this resource.

As I run across other ideas, books, games, I will add to this post.  For now I feel like we are off to a good start with whatever I choose from the materials highlighted here.  And I have to remind myself………Max is ten!  I’ll try to go easy on him while we work with a subject that I get excited about :).


See? There had to be more……..I did a post on The Mysterious You series a few weeks ago and remembered that several of those books would fit nicely in this unit study, too.  Here’s one of the books.  You can refer back to the post if you’d like to take a look at the whole series.

Here’s another really fun book by Jay Hosler called Optical Allusions:

Jay Hosler is one of my favorite authors.  He has a wild sense of humor and shall we say, ‘a unique perspective’ on all things scientific.  “OPTICAL ALLUSIONS is the cure for all those clamoring for a painstakingly researched, scientifically accurate, eye-themed comic book adventure. WRINKLES THE WONDER BRAIN has lost his bosses’ eye and now he has to search all of human imagination for it. Along the way, he confronts biology head on and accidentally learns more about eyes and the evolution of vision than he thought possible. And, as if a compelling story with disembodied talking brains, shape-changing proteins and giant robot eyes wasn’t enough, each tale is followed by a fully illustrated, in-depth exploration of the ideas introduced in the comic story. Following in the tradition of the author’s first two books, Clan Apis and The Sandwalk Adventures, Optical Allusions uses humor and adventure to weave an unforgettable story about the wonders of seeing.”

“From blistering bee stings to pus-filled pimples, this eye-popping book takes readers on a virtual tour of all of the grossest, gooiest, and most fascinating events that bodies have to endure. Featuring incredible 3-D graphics that reveal the action and body’s response in microscopic detail, Ouch! Combines kid-friendly gross-out value with cutting-edge anatomical and biological expertise.”  The book also comes with a CD that contains videos and supplementary material.  Looks grossly engaging!


One Response

  1. […] went to see Slim Goodbody.  Stephen Hawking wowed us with the wonders of outer space.  The current unit on the human body is ripe with science!  I considered signing up for a science co-op, but wanted to curtail the […]

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