The human heart & organs for pre-school toddlers

For the month of February, in the spirit of Valentine’s day, our learning theme for Toddler S was Heart(s)! Not only did we do some fun Montessori inspired arts and crafts with the  lovey-dovey shape of hearts ♥ ♥ ♥ but more importantly we learned about the human heart and how it fits in with the other organs of our body.  The human body is definitely a big topic for a little human so we worked on it two days a week (and any other times Toddler S showed interest) during the month of February. This was a fun activity for pre-school toddlers and even older kids who are interested in learning about the human body as it pertains to their own body. 

Below there is a break down of what Toddler S and I  focused on when we learned about the human heart and how we broke it down into a month long activity. He showed such a great interest in the topic and was curious to learn more. His interest in how to keep our heart healthy and what it needs, is what sparked a few of the subsequent activities about healthy eating. 

Human body & organs activity for toddlers: 

WEEK ONE 

Day 1:  

  1. Color a print-out of the human heart 
    • This is the heart printable we used which was the perfect size and had labels to color the blue/red
    • Free Human Heart Printable by Crayola
               Free Human Heart Printable by Crayola

      Talk about the “blue” and “red”, arteries & veins. We kept it simple and reiterated that one is where blood comes into the heart, and the other is blood that goes out of the heart

  2. Tracing the human body on a large paper

    • Toddler S loved laying down on the large butcher paper (you can disassemble a cardboard box – think Amazon deliveries boxes) while I traced around his little body. He was so still and curious to see what we were going to do next! 
  3. Placing the heart on the traced body
    • We  had this book on hand it had some great images of the organs for Toddler S to reference. In addition, we also had a printout to look at while we navigated his traced body. This is the printout we used as a visual, this helped Toddler S see where each of the organs were in vicinity to his own body.  
    • Books that I wanted to pick up from the library but didn’t get a chance to: The Magic School Bus Inside the Human Body . This seemed liked the perfect book to add to our human body study.

 

Day 2: 

On our second day, Toddler S was so excited to unroll his traced human body. 

  1. Reviewed the previous days learnings: 
    • We talked about the the things we learned on Day 1 – the heart and and what the functions of the “red and blue”(arteries & veins).
    • He placed the heart on his traced body using the print out as a visual reminder 
  2. Next, we used red & blue ribbon to to represent where the red and blue blood flows on the traced body.
    • I asked him where in our body blood was needed, and we started at the heart and he helped unwind the ribbon to the designated body part/limb. Similarly, we talked about how the limbs needed more “shakti” (energy), so they needed to go back to the heart to get more blood. He helped identify which parts needed more “shakti” and helped guide the ribbon back to the heart.
    • The plan was to stop here – but he wanted to keep going, so I followed his lead (and thankfully the babies were still napping), so we  kept going.
  3. Lungs, spleen, liver -we looked at the other organs of the body in our visuals  and ventured into our craft room to find some materials to make each of these organs for our traced body. 
    Build the Human Body
    • We ended up using various colored construction paper/card stock for these organs. Toddler S helped me identify their shapes. We talked about the different functions for each body part which I too had to look up because I was not prepared to “keep going”. But together we learned about the functions of the lungs, spleen & liver, again we kept it simple. 

WEEK TWO

Day 3: 

  1. Reviewed the previous weeks learnings: 
    • We talked about all the organs we had made along with the functions of the “red” and “blue” (arteries & veins) 
    • He placed all the organs on his traced body using the print out as a a visual reference
  2. Stomach, large intestines, small intestine – it was time to add more organs to his traced body
    • We used construction paper to cut out the stomach
    • We used crepe paper (the stuff you use to decorate with for birthdays) in a dark blue and light blue for the large & small intestines. He really enjoyed cutting these. 

Day 4: 

  1. Reviewed the previous days learnings: 
    • We talked about all the organs we had made along with the functions of the “red” and “blue” (arteries & veins) 
    • He placed all the organs on his traced body using the print out as a a visual reference, he was getting so good at identifying each organ and knowing where it belongs. 
  2. Brain & bladder – we added the last of the organs we would focus on. (We could have added in the pancreas, trachea and esophagus but it seemed like he was comfortable with this amount). 

Toddler S learns about the Human Heart in February

WEEK THREE

Day 5: 

  1. Reviewed all the organs and placed them in their appropriate place. 
  2. What does our heart/body need to be healthy? 
    • food
    • exercise

Over the last few weeks, we had been talking a lot about what our heart needs to be healthy.  Toddler S was so interested in the various food categories (grains, proteins, fruits, vegetables & dairy) that every day he would ask what category the food he was eating belonged to. He also showed an interest in what vitamins each food had. Mommy was not prepared for this but we made a fun activity out of it. 

3. Activity – We went to our mail stash and found the local grocery store ads. Toddler S loves using his scissors, so he enjoyed identifying various fruits & vegetables and cutting them out.

4. Toddler S then sorted his cut outs into fruits & vegetables

 

Day 6:

  1. Sorting Fruits & Vegetables: Toddler S took his cut out fruits and vegetables and sorted them on his own. This was a tray (activity) he would get on his own when he was looking for something to do during the week. 
  2.  We found a print out which identified various Vitamins and which fruits/vegetables were associated with each. I don’t think it was the best worksheet given there are many vitamins in any given fruit and the print out didn’t clearly depict that but it was a good introduction for what Toddler S was interested in. This was another tray/activity he would pick up on his own to work on during the next weeks. 

WEEK FOUR

We didn’t have time to do another library trip which I was hoping to squeeze in as I wanted to get a few more related books. But we worked with what we had and it was perfect! This week we did a lot of review of the prior weeks to wrap up our Toddler study of the human heart and organs. We also pulled out one of Toddler S’s favorite Yoga books that we were gifted and focused on the element of exercise. Fortunately, after weeks of rain we also were able to squeeze in a jog to the park where Toddler S was able to get his heart pumping and feel his pulse rate rise too! 

Montessori Inspiration 

Through the month of February as Toddler S explored the human heart through his very own body. I very much wished to set up some trays for him with 3-party cards and some additional material however, I just did not have the time with the baby twins on hand and the day-to-day house hold “stuff” that needed to get done. So, we took it one day at a time. And like most of our days, we bring the Montessori approach into our work. This exploration of the human heart involved many aspects of Montessori concepts. Although I was not necessarily able to create the perfect “set-up” for Toddler S, this worked for us and the way we do Montessori in our home

Practical Life & Fine Motor: 

  • Lots of scissor work – Toddler S had a chance to cut many different materials from paper, to ribbon to crepe paper. 
  • Glue: Most of the pieces were also glued by Toddler S, he enjoyed opening, closing, twisting the cap more than the actual glueing. 
  • Measuring: we measured lots of paper and lots of ribbon for the various organs we constructed. 

3 -period lesson: 

As he showed interest in the various body parts from his visual references, I used the 3-period lesson to introduce each organ. 

Trays: The organs that we made and the fruits/vegetables Toddler S cut out did go into trays on his shelf. This became trays he picked up to work on during the week. Ideally, I would have made these into trays ahead of time but this worked out just fine for us. You can also use actual fruits and vegetables for them to sort, play fruit/vegetables or invest in some of the Toob toys which was on my list of purchase too. 

Organs: He would also pick up the organs tray with the human body visual print out and arrange the body parts on the piece of paper while reciting the names and functions. 

Fruits & vegetables:  He would spend time sorting the fruits and vegetables into colors or by fruit vs vegetable. He also loved talking about what vitamins each may have. 

 

“The essential thing is to arouse such an interest that it engages the child’s whole personality.”

Dr. Montessori

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