This unit is designed to teach young children about the human heart, ways to take care of their hearts, and the history of the heart shape.
- Be able to diagram the human heart, following the blood flow in and out
- Become familiar with the terms having to do with the heart
- Compare and contrast the heart beats per minute while resting and taking part in different exercises
- Identify exercises that promote a healthy heart
- Identify healthy habits, including healthy eating habits
- The Magic School Bus Inside the Human Body written by Joanna Cole, illustrated by Bruce Degen
- Red butcher paper
- Cardboard paper towel rolls, one per pair of students
- Chart Your Heart printable, one copy per student
- Stop watch or timer
- Chart paper
- Jump ropes, one for every pair of students (or as many as you have)
- Blank diagram of a human heart (if you don't have one already, Teacher Vision has a great printable), one copy per student
- Blank index (or larger) cards
- Two bells or buzzers from board games
- Red construction paper
- Blank paper for poster-making, one sheet for every pair of students
- Art supplies for poster-making
- Draw a large heart on red butcher paper. Cut out the heart shape and hang on the wall so students can write vocabulary words on it.
- Make cards with healthy heart habits (good foods, exercises, etc.) and cards with bad habits (unhealthy foods, not exercising, etc.) for the Healthy Heart Challenge.
- Cut out small hearts from the red construction paper to use as points for the Healthy Heart Challenge.
- Clear plenty of floor space for students to exercise.
- Decide on student pairs for the exercise activity and two teams for the Healthy Heart Challenge.
- Research the human heart for your own reference. You may want to keep notes on hand throughout the lesson.
Step 1: Read The Magic School Bus Inside the Human Body, written by Joanna Cole and illustrated by Bruce Degen, aloud to the class. Focus on the section about the heart and the bloodstream. As you read, stop and ask questions. Have students take turns writing new words and vocabulary from the story on the large heart.
Step 2: Divide the class into preselected partners. Give each pair of students a cardboard paper towel roll. Give each student a copy of the Chart Your Heart printable.
Step 3: Demonstrate to the class how to find a pulse, on either the wrist or the neck.
Step 4: Have students count their heart beats while you time them. Explain that this number is their resting heart rate.
Step 5: Have each partner use the toilet paper roll as a stethoscope to listen to the other's heart beat.
Step 6: Help students record their own resting heart rates in the "Standing Still" column of their Chart Your Heart printables.
Step 7: Have the students walk around the classroom for 30 seconds and immediately take their heart beat. Time the students so they count their heart beats for the same amount of time.
Step 8: Have each partner use the toilet paper roll to listen to the other’s heart beat.
Step 9: Have the students record their findings on their own Chart Your Heart pages.
Step 10: Repeat steps 7–9 for the "Jogging," "Jumping" in place, and "Running" columns on the chart.
Step 11: Have students take turns using a jump rope to jump 15 times and repeat the taking of their heart beat, listening, and recording.
Step 12: Come back together as a group and help the students brainstorm other exercises they can do. Record their answers on the chart paper.
Step 13: Break students into pairs again and let them experiment with the remaining blank columns of their charts. Encourage the students to try some exercises that don’t require as much cardio, like turning in a circle or standing on one foot.
Step 14: Have the students come back to together to discuss the activity. As a class, create a list of healthy heart exercises and record the list on chart paper.
Step 15: Review the vocabulary words from Day 1. Talk about the exercises and the heart beat rates from Day 1.
Step 16: As a class, label the parts of the heart on the blank human heart diagram. Have students draw arrows following the path of the blood entering and exiting the heart.
Step 17: Brainstorm which foods are healthy for the heart and which ones are not. Make a class chart with students' responses.
Step 18: Play the Healthy Heart Challenge:
- Divide students into preselected teams.
- Have one student from each team come up to the front of the classroom where you have set up bells or board game buzzers.
- Hold up a healthy or unhealthy card. The first student to buzz in gets to declare the card healthy or unhealthy.
- If the student answers correctly, his or her team earns a construction-paper heart.
- The team with the most hearts wins the Healthy Heart Challenge.
Step 19: Have students write their own lists of foods to eat and exercises to do at home with their families to keep everyone's heart healthy.
Step 20: Have student pairs 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 you can give them slightly easier questions.
- Listen to different types of heart beats, including animals.
- Create a human heart out of clay.
- Create a brochure on how to prevent a heart attack.
- Give the students a crossword puzzle with the facts about the heart (you can make your own using Puzzlemaker).
Have students take inventory of the food in their house. Make a chart of healthy and unhealthy foods.
The students will make a list of activities they can do at home with their families to keep their heart healthy.
- Did students understand how the different exercises affected their heart rate?
- Were students able to respond during discussion sessions and brainstorm healthy foods and habits?
- Were students able to create a poster to promote a healthy heart?
During the lessons, monitor the students, check for understanding and make sure they know how to find their heart beat.