Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Studying the human body

One of the things we're studying this fall is the human body. I thought everyone would enjoy it, but was unprepared for quite how big a hit it is. We are just at the beginnings of what we are doing, but I thought I would share some of our resources.

I'm using two different books for the basis of our learning. The first is The Body Book: Easy-to-Make Hands-On Models that Teach by Donald M. Silver and Patricia J. Wynne. I just happened to come across a copy at the homeschooling conference last spring and on a whim, picked it up. I'm so glad I did because everyone is loving it. Essentially, you photocopy the appropriate pages, cut out as directed, and then tape and glue them together. When you are done, you have a model of whatever part of the body you are studying. It is not 3-D, but the different parts are done in layers so you turn each page and see what's underneath.

It's kind of difficult to explain, so here's a photo of the eye model we did yesterday. (This is not colored, but you can also color them when you are done.)

First, it is all folded up, showing the outer eye.

That lifts up and you see the cornea (which is made with plastic wrap.)

Under the cornea is the iris, with a hole in the center so you could see the lens through the pupil.

The iris lifts up to show the whole lens. You can see how it all folds out, here.

Under the lens is the retina. (I did not draw the nice little repaired tears in this one to make it look like my own. When I mentioned it, some of my people looked a little green around the gills.)

Under the retina are the blood vessels.

And finally, we see the optic nerve which transmits all the information to the brain.

It helps to have some bigger people on hand to help the 5 years olds do the cutting and taping, but that is the only difficulty I've had so far. Then, when our model is complete, I read about the body part in Blood and Guts by Linda Allison. It helps to have the model to look at as I read about how everything works, plus this book has some great experiments in it. We may or may not be dissecting an eye ball (and by we I mean M. coming home and helping the younger group.) It all depends on if I can find some animal head in the meat case in the grocery store that still has an eyeball in it. When I looked last week, the pig's head had an ear covering where the eyeball socket was, so I couldn't tell if there was an actual eyeball there or not. It's hard to move a pig's ear around through plastic wrap.

Since I always like to have some sort of chapter book to go along with what we're studying we had been reading The Fantastic Voyage by Isaac Isimov. We just finished it today. I had read this in junior high and remember loving it, so decided to read it as part of our study. It was a hit and I think as we make it to the other body parts, the descriptions in the book will help people to understand what they are learning. Plus, it's just a great adventure story. We also covered a little history, since to make sense of the first chapter, we had to stop and discuss what the Cold War was. The movie is on Netflix, so I think this weekend we'll have a movie night and watch it together. Even if you aren't studying the human body, the book is a great read aloud for upper grade school on up.

I have other books and movies that we'll bring in as we go along, but these are our main resources. We alternate what we are learning, so many people (especially K.) are thrilled when it's Tuesday or Thursday because they are loving what they're learning.

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