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Lesson Ideas

Teaching Activities on Anatomy & Health

This collection highlights teaching activities, hands-on lessons, and online simulations we found on the web that can help students learn about anatomy and health. They are created by science educators and partner education organizations. Just as all our original content is free, we only recommend external resources that are free for teachers.

1. Heart Rate & Breathing Lab

This activity is offered by Whitney High School‘s (Rocklin Unified School District) Biology Department as part of their Grade 9 Biology course. Whitney is a “California Distinguished School” that focuses on college preparatory, Advanced Placement, and University of California/California State University-accredited coursework. In this activity, students will learn about physiology through an interactive lab measuring heart rate and breathing rate.

Image from Alith3204 on Wikimedia Commons

  • Activity: PDF
  • Topic: physiology, heart rate, breathing rate
  • Level: middle school

2. Sleep Activities

This activity is offered by the Nemours Foundation’s KidsHealth program (established in 1995) as part of a Grades 3-5 unit called the Human Body Series published in 2015 to align with the CDC’s National Health Education Standards. This teacher’s guide includes discussion prompts, two classroom worksheets, and a quiz with answer key. They will help students learn about the functions of sleep, sleep disorders, and how to get good sleep.

Image from Nemours Foundation/KidsHealth

  • Activity: PDF
  • Topic: sleep, self-care
  • Level: elementary school

3. NSTA: “Into Thin Air” Case Study

This activity was published in 2003 by California State University, Sacramento biologist Jennifer Lundmark on the National Science Teaching Association‘s website. The first of five parts introduces students to a medical emergency encountered by a group of hikers in the Mt. Denali range in Alaska. Each subsequent part presents further information about the event and guiding questions that ultimately help students analyze provided medical data to determine what happened during a high-altitude climb.

Image from Emily Mesner for the National Park Service, 2017

  • Activity: web page, PDF
  • Topic: human physiology, high altitude, sports science
  • Level: high school

4. Neuroscience for Kids: Experiments

This website was developed by Dr. Eric Chudler (University of Washington) through the support of multiple National Institutes of Health SEPA grants from 1997 to 2005; it appears actively maintained. The Experiments page gathers more than 14 unique games that help students understand how neuroscience impacts their five senses, reflexes, biological rhythms, and more. Additional links at the bottom of the page provide even more lesson plans.

Image from Dr. Eric Chudler

  • Activity: web page
  • Topic: neuroscience
  • Level: elementary school

5. Brain Play

This activity is one of many offered by Morphonix, a company founded in 1990 to develop “alternative educational tools that stimulate children to learn about their brains.” In this lesson, students learn about which parts of the brain govern different tasks and then are challenged to create cartoons or illustrations of characters using those different parts of the brain.

Image from Morphonix

  • Activity: web page, printable brain (PDF)
  • Topic: brain function
  • Level: elementary school, middle school

6. Endocrine Disruptors in Drinking Water

This activity is offered by the Yale-New Haven Teachers Institute, established in 1994 as a partnership between Yale University and the New Haven Public Schools to strengthen curricular resources based on education research and classroom experiences. This resource, authored by Nancy J. Schmitt and published in 2009, presents a series of nine readings with five different lessons that look at real-world examples and data about the impact of endocrine disruptors on organisms.

Image from Yale-New Haven Teachers Institute

  • Activity: web page
  • Topic: endocrine system, drinking water
  • Level: high school

7. Endocrine System Activities

This activity is offered by the Nemours Foundation’s KidsHealth program (established in 1995) as part of a Grades 9-12 unit called the Human Body Series published in 2017 to align with the CDC’s National Health Education Standards. This teacher’s guide includes discussion prompts, two classroom worksheets, and a quiz with an answer key. This is a fun activity that has students learning about the endocrine system by creating comic book endocrine heroes.

Image from Nemours Foundation/KidsHealth

  • Activity: PDF
  • Topic: endocrine system, hormones
  • Level: high school

8. BrainPOP Educators: Guts and Bolts Game

BrainPOP was founded in 1999 by Dr. Avraham Kadar – a trained pediatrician and immunologist – as a creative way to explain difficult concepts to his young patients. The company hosts a huge portfolio of play-based learning about the human body. This web-based game walks students through learning about the body systems by having them create a new friend with a combination of organic parts and re-purposed household objects. Two lesson plans complement the game.

Image from BrainPOP

9. CDC: Nutrition Lesson Plan

This lesson plan was developed by educators Judy Jones and Kathie Fuller as part of the 2006 CDC Science Ambassador Program and is aligned with the National Science Education Standards and the North Carolina Standards. It offers a collection of case studies from the CDC looking at nutrition in teenagers. Across four lessons (with other modifications and extensions available), students will learn about the requirements for macro- and micronutrients.

Image from CDC/Jones and Fuller

  • Activity: PDF
  • Topic: nutrition, teen health
  • Level: middle school, high school

10. Skeletal Systems Games

Anatomy Arcade is a website built by Australian science and physical educator Ben Crossett in 2011 to share the games he developed to teach human anatomy. It offers students five games and simulations to learn about the skeletal system.

Image from Anatomy Arcade

  • Activity: web page
  • Topic: skeletal system, bones
  • Level: elementary school, middle school

That’s Not All!

Check out our full collection of adapted research articles on Health and Medicine. Each article comes with tailored teaching resources, lessons, labs, and other activities for your students.

Title image by Remi Bumstead for International Citizen Service

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