The Human Body System I: Digestive 

by Lilla E. Green



Little munchkins adore Teletubbies but they also love learning about their bodies.  Have you noticed that they're very curious about where their food goes?

I challenge you to ask your three or four year old, during a breakfast meal, where did the Frosted Flakes or Cream of Wheat or pancakes go?  Ask them how does the food make them healthy? As you discuss this topic, think of ways to enlarge on the subject of digestion.  You might get the grocery store advertisements and let your child circle those breakfast foods they prefer.  Help them cut out and make a "scrapbook" of delightful meals, and tell them they're going to take a "walk" into their bodies, to follow the path that their food takes, as it distributes nutrients throughout the body.  

In our science classes for primary children, human body systems are presented to the children - one by one.  For all practical purposes, let's study the digestive system, in an introductory lesson.  Kids LOVE food!  So do I - what about YOU? 

Let's look at the lesson plan used at Hartigan School this past school year, during the quarter where body systems were studied.

The scientific method is the template used for every lesson taught in the science lab, so that the pupils will be accustomed to using it in the intermediate and upper grades, and throughout high school.  



Science Lab

Preschool - Grade 3

Human Body Systems:  Digestive System


Problem:  How would I look if I ate my favorite food all day long, everyday, for the rest of my life?

Hypothesis:  ___________________________________________________________________

*(Teacher will elicit responses from pupils, after asking what's their favorite food.)

The word "hypothesis" means a guess.  Have pupils tell why they love popcorn, potato chips, nachos, or Now 'N Laters, or whatever it is that they're crazy about.  Then have them draw a nebbish. They must fill every square inch of the body outline with pictures of their favorite food, until there's no more room.  This constitutes a body which is built up or nourished upon this particular food.

Materials:  scissors, grocery store advertisements, nebbish handouts, mini-picture of the small and large intestines, mini-picture of the stomach, video of the digestive system as presented by the Magic SchoolBus entitled "Going Cellular,"( Go to Number 45 on the list), television / VCR, overhead projector, transparency of the body, the stomach, and the small and large intestines, gluesticks, markers.


(At this point, have children pretend they smell tacos or pizza in the school lunchroom...............They realize that smelling is part of the digestive process.  Then have them take a bite, and rub their stomach because the food is sooooo delicious.  Tell them this is the beginning of the path that their food will take.  Let them tell you how long they think it'll take their bodies to utilize the nutrients. Discuss how the last meal they ate, is still undergoing the digestive process, as the cells distribute vitamins, minerals and energy to the cells of the body.  Remind them how the cells travel through the blood stream dropping off nourishment and picking up waste materials.  Some background materials you may find helpful, are at the bottom of this lesson.)


Assessment:  Children must successfully describe the digestive process, using the terms:  mouth, esophagus (food tube), stomach, and small and large intestines. Ask them why it is not wise to eat their favorite food whenever they want.  Let them enlist the help of their parents to compose a food journal (pictures)  for one day, which states what they've eaten.  When they get to class, they can share their journals with their classmates.

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