We’ve been learning about the human body for kids in anatomy this year. We started by making our human body project where kids could see the bones inside of them. Bones make sense because they can feel the hard object when they press on their bodies. Next we added the organs which also made sense to them as they know food goes somewhere – the stomach. Next up is teaching them about muscles. While they can make a muscle, this concept is a little more abstract. So we did this fun muscular system for kids activity to help students learn how do muscles work. Try this quick human body project with preschool, pre-k, kindergarten, first grade, 2nd grade, 3rd grade, and 4th graders too.
How do Muscles Work
As kids begin to learn about the muscular system for kids they will learn that they have over 600 muscles in their bodies! Mucles help with many things from blinking, to lifting your plate, to making your heart beat to pump blood all throughout your body. There are 3 types of muscles including:
- skeletal muscles – These muscles are attached to our bones or skeletal system to we can move. Typically these muscles have 2 opposing pairs such as the biceps and triceps on the front and back of the upper arm. We control when these muscles move.
- smooth muscles – These muscles are in thin sheets and help move food along our digestive tract, bloof vessels, and more. These muscles move without us even having to think about them.
- cardiac muscles – This muscle contracts and release our heart which gives us a heart beat, moves blood to nourish our bodies, and allows us to lie.
This activity helps children learn about voluntary skeletal muscles and how they work in pairs. THis is a VERY simple visual on how do muscles work to give young children a basic understanding. This easy human body project is perfect for preschoolers, kindergartners, grade 1, grade 2, grade 3, and grade 4 students.
Muscular System for Kids
To make this project you only need a few simple materials you probably already have on hand:
- 3 long cardbaord tubes (like from paper towels)
- 2 long balloons (like from making balloon animals)
- yarn, wire, or long twisty tie from garden staking
- hole punch or scissors
- mitten (for visualization)
- sharpie or markers to label the bones
Start by trimming your cardboard tubes so you have one long one (uncut) and two equally long rolls that are a couple inches shorter than the main one.
Human Body Project
Hole punch one end of each cardboard tube (or poke carefully with kitchen scissors). You need matching holes on each tube.
Slide yarn or wire through holes so that the smaller tubes sandwich the long roll as shown.
Using two long narrow balloons, like are used to make balloon animals, blow them up about 1/3 of the way. We used red balloons so they would be more the color of muscle. Press the air to the center of the balloon, leaving lots of unused balloon on either end.
Have your children lable the bones and muscles. You shoudl have the humerus as the long bone and the pair of bones from your wrist to your elbow are the radius and ulna. For the balloon muscles, you have the bicep muscle and behind your arm the tricep muscle. Remember how skeltal muscles tend to come in pairs?
Human Body Science Experiments
Now tie each of the tricep muscle balloon to the end of the large humerus bone. Do NOT knot the balloon itself, but just tie the balloon to the roll loosely. You want the muscle to be able to stretch and contract for your visual. Repeat with the bicep msucle by tieing the one end at the same spot as the upper part of the humerus bone and the bottom of the bicep mucle to the spot where the radius and ulna come together and use the balloon to draw them even closer.
Human Body Muscles for Kids
This is how your project should look. We added the glove to the end to help kids visualize this abstract model was indeed their arm!
Muscles for Kids
Demonstarte how you can extend the model arm flat. What happens to the balloon? The muscle (balloon also) stretches and becomes flatter. when the arm does a curl up again the muscle contracts and the muscle (balloon) bulges. Have kids try with their own arms and feel the bicep muscle extend and flatten. Now have them contarct their forearm and feel the bicep muscle bulge.
When the biceps contract the triceps will relax, this allows our arm to bend. When we want to straighten our arm back out, the biceps will relax and the triceps will contract. Muscle pairs allow us to move back and forth.
Finally, here are some fun facts about muscles for kids:
- Did your mother ever tell you it takes more work to frown than to smile? She was right! It only takes 17 muscles to smile, but 43 muscles to frown.
- Shivering is caused by hundreds of muscles contracting and relaxing all over your body. This motion produces heat to make you warmer.
- Your longest muscle is called the sartorius. The Santorius runs from the hip to the knee and helps you bend at the knee.
- Can you guess what the strongest muscle in the body is? Depending on how you measure…. the heart or the jaw. The heart works hard; it beats 3,600,000 times a year. The jaw is incredibly powerful and helps you chew; in fact the bite strength of an average man is between 117 to 265 pounds.
- The smallest muscle is in your body is in the ear. ear and is called the stapedius.
Human Body for Kids
- Grab this free printable 5 senses preschool printables to explore the senses of sight, taste, sound, smell, and touch
- Human Body human body playdough mats – lots of choices to learn about various systems of the body including simple for preschoolers, skeletal system, organs, muscles, nerves, and more!
- Teach kids about human cells for kids with hands on activities, free printable reader, human cell worksheets, and more!
- Human Body Printables makes a printable book that teaches students all about their heart, brain, muscles, cells, skin, bones, lungs, stomach, intestines, and bladder
- 4 EPIC Skeletal System Project ideas for kids – using things like pasta, life saver gummies, lego, and more you can learn about the human body in a fun memorable way
- Free Skeletal System Worksheets for Kids – everything you need to teach kids about their bodies!
- Kids will love learning about the ear with this model of ear for school project
- Parts of the Brain for Kids Activity with Playdough Brain Model & Free Brain Worksheets for Kids
- Lungs for Kids Working Model and lesson plan
- Blood for Kids – Actiivty to learn about the Human Body
- Amazing 5 Senses for kids lesson to explore with hands on activities, videos, books, and more!
- Try this Jelly Bean sense of taste activities for preschool experiment.
- Human Heart for Kids: 2 Fun Heart Models plus Worksheets
- Kids will be amazed by these eye science experiments
- Huge pack of 5 Senses Worksheets to explore the senses and sneak in some math and literacy activities too
- EPIC, Life-size Human Body Project
- How do Muscles Work – Simply Skeletal Muscle Model that works
- See all of our hands-on ideas to make learning about the human body for kids FUN and more creative printable science experiments for all ages
- How do Hands Work – Human Body Muscles for Kids Project