Why not launch your skeleton unit with a fun sing-aloud? Begin by writing the lyrics below (sung to the tune of “When You´re Happy and You Know It, Clap Your Hands”) on a large sheet of chart paper and display prominently so that all the children in your class can see it. Then as children sing, have them point to each body part mentioned in the song.

"I'm Full of Bones"

From my fingers to my toes, I´m full of bones.
From my fingers to my toes, I´m full of bones.
If you count them all as one, they make a skeleton.
From my fingers to my toes, I´m full of bones.
My smallest bone is found inside my ear.
My smallest bone is found inside my ear.
The stirrup helps me hear many sounds both far and near.
My smallest bone is found inside my ear.
My longest bone is found inside my leg.
My longest bone is found inside my leg.
My femur´s really great ´cause it helps me stand up straight.
My longest bone is found inside my leg.
My joints help my bones to move around.
My joints help my bones to move around.
My hips, elbows, and knees: Oh, it´s all so plain to see
that my joints help my bones to move around.
—Original song lyrics by Jennifer Prescott


Build A Bone

To help children understand what the inside of a bone looks like, invite them each to make these simple bone models. Have students shape a 2" square of corrugated paper into a tube and tape the ends together. This tube represents compact bone, the hard outer layer that contains blood vessels and nerves. They then roll a 2" square of rubber shelf liner into a scroll and insert it into the bone tube. This represents spongy bone, a bone's lightweight inner layer. Finally, students fill the center of their models with red and yellow pompoms. Explain that the red marrow produces essential red and white blood cells for the body and that yellow marrow stores fat.


Skeleton Name Game (Using the Reproducible)
Invite student partners to use the reproducible game board to practice naming and spelling different bones of the body. First hand out copies of the Skeleton Name Game Reproducible (PDF) below. Have student pairs fold the paper in half and hold it between them. Then have students try one of these challenging games.
  • Skeleton Jeopardy: Students take turns quizzing each other Jeopardy-style on the names and locations of these major bones, asking “What is the collar bone?” “What is the clavicle?”
  • Spell-a-ton: The student facing “Side One” gives bone names to his or her partner, asking, for example, “How do you spell clavicle?”
  • Skeleton Challenge: One student holds the reproducible and reads the clues on Side Two, while the other answers unaided. 

Long and Strong

Our arms and legs are each made up of three long bones: one in the upper part of each limb and two in the lower part. Invite pairs of students to measure and record the length of these bones to the nearest inch. First, have them measure the humerus from the shoulder to the elbow, the ulna from the elbow to the wrist, and the radius from the inside of the elbow to the thumb side of the wrist. Then ask children to measure the femur from the hip to the knee, the tibia from the knee to the inside ankle, and the fibula from the knee to the outside ankle. Which bone is the longest? (It is the femur.) This bone is also the strongest bone in the body. Can children explain why? Ask students to explain why the other bones in their legs and arms also need to be strong.


Bendable Backbone

The backbone is actually made up of many bones, called vertebrae, that link together and form sliding joints. To show how this construction allows for flexible movements such as twisting and bending, give children a fat plastic straw to cut in half. Have them cut snips along the length of one of the halves, being sure to leave the straw in one piece. When finished, ask students to bend and twist each straw half. Which straw half can be bent and twisted with more ease and flexibility?


Pull Power

Our movements are powered by muscles, which are connected to our bones by tendons. To help children understand how muscles move our bones, invite them to follow the steps below to create a model of a human arm.
  1. Fold and then unfold an 8" x 1" strip of cardboard to create a cardboard arm.
  2. Cut a rubber band in half to represent two “muscles.”
  3. Tape a rubber-band muscle in a straight line to each side of the cardboard arm.
  4. Gently pull one rubber band to make the sections of the arm bend toward each other and contract. This is the action of the biceps.
  5. Then pull the muscle on the reverse side (the triceps) to make the biceps lengthen and relax. The arm will straighten once more.