Our *newest* biology STEM project gets kids familiar with the bones of the body by teaching the skeletal system in a fun way!
October is the perfect time to introduce the skeletal system - a fun STEM activity for kids!
Why? Well, with Halloween right around the corner, there are probably a few skeletons hanging around the neighborhood ;) Let's take advantage of it and explore a little biology by learning about the bones in our body with these fun STEM activities and FREE printable!
Skeleton STEM Activity: Biology Projects for Kids
In our house, we are no strangers to bones -- in fact, between both of my kids, we have had 16 bone fractures over the years! Yikes - I know.
When they were younger, they would say "I broke my wrist" but as they became more familiar with bones, they would actually name which bone was broken each time someone asked about their cast. (not to worry, we've had them seen by many doctors and they just seem to be kids who grow quickly while being super active which can result in more fractures).
For most kids, the idea of what's in their body (bones, muscles, organs) can be a bit abstract -- and for some kids, it can be a little gross too (which might be good or not so good ;)
While kids love to talk about funny biology issues (if your kids are like this, see our How Long are Your Small Intestines?! STEM activity), when it comes to seeing a set of bones, they may find things a little creepy. So, as with many of our activities, I suggest reading a few books as you begin this project.
For some fun reads, we'd recommend:
Skeletons are NOT Spooky - Did you know that skeletons like the playground, play dress-up and take bubble baths?!! A very funny look at why you should NOT be afraid of skeletons -- sure to help ease the fears of young kids and make them giggle.
Bonaparte Falls Apart is another funny read about a skeleton who just can't keep his bones from falling off -- so his friends try to help him by using glue ... and spider webs... and other creative things. Kids will love watching the antics in this beautifully illustrated book!
If you're looking for a non-fiction book, try one of these:
The Skeleton Book is full of details about all the bones in the human body, how they work and why we need them! Kids ages 7 - 12 will enjoy the detailed overview of the skeletal system.
For younger kids, try You Can't See Your Bones with Binoculars! a fun look at the various bones in your body. Readers will enjoy the x-rays of bones included in the animated drawings along with learning the names and numbers of bones in the human body (we also love the appendix which includes a look at animal skeletons too!)
And also take a peek at these 15 Kids Books & Websites for Biology Projects for a few other recommendations too!
Fun Facts about the Human Skeletal System
There are actually some really cool facts to know about the human skeleton:
- The human skeleton has 206 bones.
- However, we also have a few other bones in our body (for example, there are bones in our ear). Speaking of ears, be sure to hop over and see this awesomely cool Science of Sound Waves experiment that kids will LOVE to try!
- Babies have more bones than adults - closer to 300 in infants! When babies are born, many of their bones are not yet fused together; as they grow, their bones will grow and connect.
- A doctor who treats bones is called an orthopedist.
- Bones can actually bruise! We learned this when my son was injured in a football game - his femur (upper leg bone) didn't break but instead formed a bruise that took months to heal.
Skeleton STEM Activity: Name the Bones of the Body
At some point, your kids will probably have to learn the names of all the bones in the skeletal system (but don't worry, we have some fun ways to teach them ;)
This is where you can introduce them to 'Slim' -- which is the name we gave to our skeleton.
I know what you're thinking -- where the heck can you find a skeleton??
Well, they are actually not that hard to come by ...
We found our skeleton at Target and he's actually a life-sized model which is pretty cool. They also sell mini-skeletons too (all of which will probably be on sale right after Halloween).
You can also find skeletons on Amazon and at most of the costume or party stores that sell Halloween supplies.
Or try the SmartLab Squisy Human Body book and model for kids.
And remember, we ALL carry around our own skeleton so if you can't get your hands on a model, just have kids do this activity with their own bones :)
First, download and print your FREE copy of the Human Skeleton Bone tags below.
Then set up your skeleton, grab one of the non-fiction books we recommended above and start to label the bones of the body. We used tape to attach the bone labels to the correct parts of our skeleton.
If you're using your own body, just tape the names of the bones to your clothes or skin (kids will probably LOVE walking around with skeleton bones taped to them -- just sounds like something a kid would do, right?!)
Here's where we turn this science project into a STEM activity by adding in some math -- as you identify the various bones of the body, have kids COUNT how many of each bone there are on the skeleton. (If you'd also like to add in some 'engineering', hop over and see the Teach Engineering Skeleton activities too)
For example, we only have 1 cranium (or skull bone) but we have 2 scapula and 10 metacarpal bones in our body!
See, learning all 206 won't be that bad after all ;)
Bones of the Body: Skeleton Drawing Project
Another really fun way to learn about the human skeleton is to draw your own on paper!
Here's what you'll need:
- a long piece of kraft paper or butcher paper (as long as your body)
- a crayon or dark marker (erasable is fine)
- a pencil (for drawing in the individual bones)
- sticky notes for labeling the various bones of the skeleton -- more on this below!
First, have kids lie down on the paper and trace their body outline. Be sure they take off their shoes and trace around their individual fingers and toes.
Then, use one of the non-fiction books or this chart of the human skeleton as a template and have kids draw in their own bones!
Once all the bones are drawn into the body outline, kids can write the names of 'dem bones' on the sticky notes and place them on the correct body area. And while you're doing this project, kids may happen to leave a few great fingerprints on their paper as their draw -- if so, you might want to check out this Fingerprint Science Activity with them!
How to Use Sticky Notes for the Project:
1. Use sticky notes instead of just labeling the butcher paper so they can be removed and kids can practice identifying the bones before a quiz or test (just put all the sticky notes on wall and have kids put them back on the skeleton so you can see they've learned the correct names).
2. Have kids label the parts of the skeleton on the kraft paper and then use sticky notes to cover up the names of the bones when you practice them.
Oh, and then next time you stub your toe, don't be surprised if your kids want to know if you hurt your phalanges (lol!) -- it's all in the fun of learning :)
Grab your FREE printable copy of the Bones of the Skeletal System now!
More Fun Halloween Science:
DIY Halloween Optical Illusions for Kids (free printable!)