Grade 3 Comprehensive Curriculum Links Unit 5

Louisiana Studies

Activity 4:  Skeletal System (GLEs: 9, 11, 41)

Materials List: bean bag animal, chicken leg bone, jar with lid, vinegar, Skeletal System Outline BLM, Skeletal System Outline Answer Key BLM, My Skeleton BLM, My Skeleton Answer Key BLM, Ball and Socket and Hinge Diagram BLM

Safety Note: Do not allow the students to eat the hard candies because of possible contamination from handling.

Using a bean bag animal, let several students try to make it stand alone.  If someone tries to prop up the animal to make it stand, explain that by propping it up, the animal is not standing on its own.  Ask students why they think the animal cannot stand on its own.   Ask students to explain how they are able to stand up.  Explain to students that we have bones that help hold the body up

  1. Students will examine a model of a human skeleton (if available); if not, posters and other visuals of the skeletal system may be used to observe how the bones are ordered and connected.
  2. Students will read books, textbooks, and other reference materials to find information on the skeletal system and its function. Listed below are several trade books that could be used with this lesson:
    1. Amazing Pull-Out Pop-Up Body in a Book by David Hawcock - Using this hands-on book, children can explore the lungs, heart, skeleton, and brain.
    2. The Children’s Book of the Body by Anna Sandman -Breathing, eating, senses, bones, the brain, blood, and skin are presented through entertaining projects.
    3. What’s Inside? My Body by Angela Royston -The outside and inside of various body parts are depicted in facing pages through illustrations, photographs, and simple annotations.
  1. Using the My Skeleton BLM, have students label the parts of the skeletal system.  As students are labeling, discuss with them the function of the skeletal system parts.
  1. Provide students with a copy of the Skeletal System Outline BLM to describe   the five functions of the skeletal system.

Teacher Note: There is also an answer key to the Skeletal System Outline BLM to be used in assisting students with the correct functions of the skeletal system on their outline.  These answers should be written on the board or any medium of your choice for students to use when completing their outline.
Have students move their arms and legs and explain to students that individual bones cannot bend and that it is at the joints in their body where it is able to bend, turn, and twist.  The teacher may use the Ball and Socket and Hinge Diagram BLM to create an overhead transparency or reproduce to give to students to help them understand the function of these two types of joints.

  • Discussion and science learning log (view literacy descriptions) questions include the following:
    • How do the bones in our body help us?
    • Do different bones help different parts of our body?  How?
    • Why is it important that our spine be flexible and bendable
  • This part of the activity should be done as a demonstration to illustrate the concept that minerals (calcium) are needed for strong bones
    • Show students a clean chicken bone and gently exert pressure to show that it will not bend.
    • Ask students to predict what will happen to the chicken bone after it is soaked in vinegar for several days.  Put the bone in a jar, cover it with vinegar, and put the lid on the jar.
    • Leave the bone in the jar for 5-7 days.
    • At the end of the time wash the bone and dry it.
    • Try to bend the bone.
    • Ask students “Why do you think that the bone can now bend?”
    • Explain that the vinegar dissolved the minerals in the bone.  The minerals are what keep the bones hard.  In our bodies, the mineral calcium that comes from the foods we eat and drink helps to strengthen our bones, along with vitamin D.

Discussion and science learning log (view literacy descriptions) questions include the following:

  • Why do you think it is important for us to eat foods that contain calcium and vitamin D?
  • What are some good food sources for calcium and vitamin D?


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Vermilion Parish Schools (Louisiana)

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