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Digestive System, a Kinesthetic Lesson

By Bobbin Cave



Type of activity:

  • Hands-on

Target audience:

  • Special Education (SED, LH)
  • Life Science
  • Biology
  • 6-12th graders, 8-12 kids

Background:

Notes for teacher: Requires floor space, can be done in a hallway

Requirement for students: Actively acting out an aspect of the digestive tract

Preparation: about 10 minutes after materials are gathered (tract layout, food particle assembled, allow more prep time students are to be labeled)

Classtime: 15 - 45 min. (explanation, activity, clean up, discussion)


Lesson/Activity:

Summary:

Two parallel strips of tape on the floor 3-4 feet apart and width of classroom represent the digestive tract. A large filled bag represents the food particle. Students standing on both lines act out each digestive function of the organs, tissues, and cells in the tract as the food particle comes to them.

Material:

  • Large thin plastic bag
  • Newspapers
  • Paper sacks
  • Zip-lock bags
  • M&M's candy
  • Masking tape
  • Markers and paper to label students (optional)
  • Sponges
  • Labeled spray bottles of water
  • Trash can.

Procedure:

Things to make ahead of time:

  • Food tube: Lay out two parallel lines of tape on the floor, 3' apart and long enough for half of the class to stand shoulder to shoulder on one side of the parallel lines. Put the food particle to be eaten ( a large plastic bag with contents described below) at one end, large trash can at the other.

  • Food particle: The food particle consists of M&M's placed in small zip-lock bags. These are placed in wadded newspapers in small paper sacks. Place small sacks in large sacks with added newspapers. Place all sacks and add newspapers until the large plastic bag is full. The bag is then taped or tied closed to complete the food particle.

Action:

PERISTALTIC MOVEMENT:

  • Have students line up on both lines, face each other, and squeeze the food (filled large plastic bag) the length of the food tube.
DIGESTION. Label and/or (instruct) the players:
  • Molars (tear food apart-break plastic bag).
  • Saliva (use spray bottle to squirt on food).
  • Pancreatic juices (spray on food).
  • Small intestines (absorb food, find plastic bags of candy and pass to blood).
  • Blood (transports food, distribute the food to every cell/participant).
  • Large intestine (reabsorbs moisture, sponge up water on the floor).
  • Rectum (puts the waste papers in the trash can).

Suggestions:

Every student should have a part. Several students can play the same part or other parts can be created. As the food comes to them, have the students tell what they are about to do, or narrate the action ("I'm am a grinding tooth and I crush food like I break this bag.") Limit the degree of destruction at each organ. Have the "nutrients" (M&M's) passed to the "blood" given to teacher when found and then returned to the "blood" for distribution to all participants AFTER clean up.

Evaluation:

  • Discussion
  • Interview
  • Label diagram or fill in outline afterwards.

Extension/Reinforcement:

It can be abbreviated and repeated with new "food "particles" until each has played every role. More details can be added for advanced students. Discussion can follow with the further explanations of diarrhea, constipation, gas, ulcers, appendicitis, bulimia, polyps, other conditions or foods.


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