Hot Tips & Topics

We are dedicated to providing you with a comprehensive collection of relevant and up-to-date K-12 education news and editorials. For teachers, by teachers.

Technology in the Classroom: Websites to Teach the Body

Jacqui Murray

For many, study of the human body starts in 2nd grade with an introduction to what's inside that stretchy, durable skin that coats us.

As students progress through school, they dig deeper into concepts of body systems, organs, cells, diseases, and the importance of good health. Whether schools classify these topics as “health” or “science,” the importance of understanding the processes that allow us to survive can't be overstated. You can prove this by asking students for personal examples of health problems that upended their lives. For some, it's as normal as a broken arm, but for many more, it ends in hospitalizations and diseases.

When teaching about the human body, start with a tool students are familiar with: The fill-in-the-blank worksheet. I see you roll your eyes, but bear with me as I drag this tried-and-true stalwart into the 21st Century. There are good reasons why worksheets have been the backbone of assessment for decades:

  • Students write or type the information (and get the benefits of note-taking).
  • Students read what they type (and get the benefits of reading).

This lesson plan, though, adds a few technology in the classroom, digital native twists. First, students create their own template in one of several ways:

  • Draw it using the school's drawing tool.
  • Take a picture of themselves with the iPad camera (or another digital camera).
  • Use an avatar that has basically human parts (like a robot). This has the advantage of tying into class discussions on digital citizenship (why use avatars rather than the real picture?).

Next, students digitally label their “human body.” To do this, you might need to review the technology in the classroom digital drawing tool (like Doodle Buddy or ScreenChomp), image editor (like Canva or PicMonkey), and/or the annotation tool (like iAnnotate or Notability) being used. Besides learning about their bodies, this integrates technology in the classroom transparently into student learning, as a process rather than a product -- as a tool used to complete their project.

Related Articles
Here's how to engage students to avoid having to rely upon a system of classroom management rules and consequences.
Here's how to engage students to avoid having to rely upon a system of...
Tips to help you get started with differentiated instruction in your secondary classroom.
Tips to help you get started with differentiated instruction in your secondary...
Some golden teaching strategies to consider for making independent reading successful for your students.
Some golden teaching strategies to consider for making independent reading...
Use these teaching strategies to tap into student interests, and make your teaching more effective.
Use these teaching strategies to tap into student interests, and make your...
Use these teaching strategies to help students spot and avoid believing fake news.
Use these teaching strategies to help students spot and avoid believing fake...

When students finish this project, as they're waiting on classmates, provide them with this list of sites on the human body. Note: These are for mixed age groups so preview them first and select those that work for your students:

BrainPOP Human Body Video

BrainPOP's Human Body video provides a three-minute overview of the human body for grades 3 and up. Once students finish watching, they can play topical games, dig deeper with more videos, make a learning map, review domain-specific words, and/or assess their learning. There are also lots of teacher resources to help in using this unit such as lesson plans, training, and academic standards met.

BrainPOP Jr. Games

BrainPOP Jr teaches K-2 students about a wide variety of topics in an age-appropriate way that makes learning fun. Here, you'll find lots of human body-themed games like Bones, Heart, and Senses. Click the link and scroll through the section on “Health” until you find the game you want.

Build a Body

Build-A-Body is a drag-and-drop game where middle school and high school students are tasked with assembling an organ system from a provided set of organs and from there, assemble the entire body. Once this is mastered, students attempt to link a health problem to the organ affected. A similar build-a-body website is Body Parts from the Smithsonian. An easier version -- and well-suited to elementary age students -- is Find My Body PartsTwo great iPad apps are DIY Human Body and Arloon Anatomy.

Code Fred

Code Fred (from the Chicago Museum of Science and Industry) is a virtual adventure game where Fred, who's out for an evening jog, is threatened by a dire wolf. You must save his life by activating the correct human body response to allow his escape. The introduction -- "Fred's body is a complex system built for everyday survival, but this is no ordinary day" -- says it all. The toon-y graphics, appropriate sound affects (like heavy breathing) and well-chosen music immerse players in the drama. Action starts out almost boring (who hasn't been chased by a wolf?), but quickly ramps up to fairly challenging levels as Fred struggles to escape the tenacious predator and a hostile environment.

How the Body Works

This site is a great collection of kid-oriented videos explaining how different parts of the human body work. Videos include a wide selection on body parts and systems to health, eating right, illnesses, injuries, and more. Each is three to five minutes and aimed at elementary age students. Included also are quizzes, Q&A, games, and activities. Resources can be selected based on age group or parent and vary depending upon which group is selected. For example, Teen topics include drinking and finding a job.

Lifesaver

Lifesaver is an interactive adventure where players are faced with the challenge of what they would do if a friend passed out for no reason. Each step of the way, students are asked to make life-and-death decisions about what they would do to save his life. To make it even more challenging, you must make your decisions quickly.

Another great life-saving simulation site is Heart attack—rescue simulation. You are happily having a cup of coffee in a busy mall and a person collapses in front of you. What do you do?

Scholastic Study Jam: the Human Body

Scholastic Study Jam provides a brief-but-thorough lesson on the human body including a slideshow (captioned, annotated images set into a slideshow format), self-quiz, and extensions for those who want to dig deeper. Topics are differentiated into categories for students, teachers, parents, administrators, and librarians.

A Walk Through the Ear

This is a body part video like you've never seen before. This seven-minute, 3-D animation includes dramatic classical sound track to augment the detailed narration to show how sound affects different parts of the ear. Because of the maturity of the narration, it is best suited to middle or high school.

Other sites that focus on one body part include Living Lung and Virtual Heart (for iPads), and Secret Life of the Brain and The Heart (Internet-based).

***

Curate this list of resources to the class website and then let students self-select the ones that interest them. This is a great activity to fill in time between class activities, before lunch, or while waiting for classmates to finish a project.


Jacqui Murray has been teaching K-8 technology for 15 years. She is the editor/author of over a hundred tech ed resources including a K-8 technology curriculum, K-8 keyboard curriculum, K-8 Digital Citizenship curriculum. She is an adjunct professor in tech ed, CSG Master Teacher, webmaster for four blogs, an Amazon Vine Voice book reviewer, Editorial Review Board member for Journal for Computing Teachers, CAEP reviewer, CSTA presentation reviewer, freelance journalist on tech ed topics, and a weekly contributor to TeachHUB. You can find her resources at Structured Learning.