What Makes a Healthy Heart?
Students discover the power of the human heart and how to keep it healthy with these fun learning activities.
- Grades: 1–2, 3–5
- Unit Plan:
Simple class activities introduce students to the power of their heart and provide an opportunity to discuss ways to maintain good health.
- Be able to diagram the human heart, following the blood flow in and out.
- Be familiar with the terms having to do with the heart.
- Compare and contrast the heartbeats per minute while resting and taking part in different exercises.
- Identify exercises that promote a healthy heart.
- Identify healthy habits, including healthy eating habits.
- Cardboard paper towel rolls
- Stop watch or timer
- Heart research
- Handout for cardio
- Jump ropes
- Chart Your Heart (PDF)
- Magic School Bus Inside the Human Heart
- Chart paper for brainstorming
- Hearts, cards, and bells for the heart game
Set Up and Prepare
- Have plenty of floor space for the children to exercise.
- Decide on teams of partners.
- Draw a large heart on red butcher paper.
- Make cards with healthy heart habits (food, exercises, etc.) and cards with bad habits.
- Cut out hearts to use for the points.
- Read the book, Magic School Bus Inside the Human Heart. As you read, stop and ask questions. Have the students take turns writing new words (vocabulary) from the story on the large heart.
- Divide the class into partners. Give each team a paper roll. Demonstrate to the class how to find their heartbeat either on their wrist or their neck. Give each group the charting your heart printable. Have the students take their resting heart rate.
- Next, have the students jump up and down for 30 seconds and immediately take their heartbeat. Have each partner use the toilet paper roll as a stethoscope to listen to each other’s heartbeat. Have the students record their findings.
- Try having the students run in place and then repeat taking their heartbeat, listening, and recording.
- Use a jump rope and have the students try to jump 15 times and repeat the taking of their heartbeat, listening, and recording.
- Let the students brainstorm for other exercises they can do and let them experiment. Encourage the students to try some exercises that don’t require as much cardio, like walking.
- Have the students create a list of healthy heart exercises.
- Review the vocabulary words from day one. Talk about the exercises and the heartbeat rates from day one.
- As a class, label the parts of the heart. Using arrows follow the path of the blood entering and exiting the blood.
- Brainstorm which foods are healthy for the heart and which ones are not. Make a class chart with the students’ responses.
- Play the heart game. Divide the students into teams. Have one student from each team come up to the front of the classroom where you have set up game bells. Hold up a healthy card, the first student to hit the bell answers. If they answer correctly, their team earns the heart. The team with the most hearts wins the healthy heart challenge.
- Have the students make posters promoting a healthy heart to display around the school.
Supporting All Learners
Have advanced students diagram the heart independently. When dividing the class into teams, be sure to split up your ELL students and put them in with English-only students. The struggling students can seek help from their teammates during the game or give them a slightly easier question.
- Listen to different types of heartbeats, including animals.
- Create a human heart out of clay.
- Create a brochure on how to prevent a heart attack.
Have the students take inventory of the food in their house. Make a graph if the food is healthy or not.
The students will make a list of activities they can do at home with their families to keep their heart healthy.
Did your students understand how the different exercises affect their heart rate? Were your students able to respond and brainstorm for healthy foods and habits? Were the students able to create a poster to promote a healthy heart?
Give the students a crossword puzzle (make it using Puzzlemaker with the facts about the heart). During the lessons, monitor the students, check for understanding and make sure they know how to find their heartbeat.