Summer Activities: Our Amazing Bodies
- Grades: PreK–K
The body is probably one of a child's first science experiments. Young children are curious about their own bodies and how they work. They love to explore how they move (and don't move), the sounds they make, how they look, how different textures feel on their skin, even how it tastes when they suck their thumb! With the activities in this section, children can use the body as a sensory laboratory to explore their five senses, heartbeat, bones, and even size. They will not only be building science skills, but creative and critical-thinking skills as well.
A great way to introduce this section of body activities is to get children moving. Play active games such as "Duck, Duck, Goose" or "Red Light, Green Light" Invite children to suggest rneir favorite outdoor game as a way to explore all the different ways they can use their bodies. Interestingly, children actually enjoy participating in some of the same fitness activities that adults do. This summer, try adding optional fitness activities, such as running laps around the playground, stretch band activities, aerobics, and yoga to your outdoor body awareness program. After completing an outdoor game or exercise, ask children to notice how their bodies feel. Do they notice how their muscles feel? How their breathing sounds? How their body is perspiring? All are important parts of keeping the body healthy. Talk with children about the importance of fitness for long-term health and happiness.
Using the Activities
The body activities in this section lend themselves to a whole host of sciencerelated art projects. By adding the artistic element to science, you invite children to explore different ways to express and document what they have learned.
Write a "body book" using the concept of comparison in the "As Big as Me" activity. Invite children to brainstorm endings for such sentences as: "I am as big as a..." "I am as little as a..." "I am fast as... "I am slow as..." Add your own sentence starters and put it all together into a child-illustrated book of comparisons.
Paint to your heartbeat as another way to explore the regularity of rhythm. If possible, borrow a metronome from a music class and set it to the children's heartbeat. How does it make children want to paint?
Inspiration is all around us! Put mural paper on the sidewalk and set out markers, chalk, or watercolors. Invite children to close their eyes and listen to the sounds of the playground. Suggest that they paint what they hear. Add music and see how the drawings change.
Explore children's sense of smell. Give those little noses a workout by sculpting with scented homemade play dough. Add mint, orange, and almond extract or oil to homemade play dough and let your artists use their noses to create what they smell.
Investigate bone structures with styrofoam and toothpicks. Children can imagine what the bones inside the body look like by connecting the foam pieces with toothpicks to make replicas of their hands, feet, or a free-form bones sculpture.
Include the sense of taste. Invite children to use rice cakes as a "canvas" and decorate with nut butters, jelly, and fruit pieces. How does your painting taste?
Conversation Starters and Questions
Ask a few great questions and watch where the conversation goes.
• How many ways can you use your body to pretend to be an animal?
• What's the least amount of space you can take up with your body? The most?
• What will happen if you play catch with your eyes closed?