Skeletal System

Below you will find the following creative activities to enhance instruction of the Skeletal System.  Items with an asterisk are short and could easily be incorporated into class.

1) Hey Macarena!* – dancing your way through the skeletal nomenclature
2) Bone composition demo* – Don’t be a chicken
3) Pasta Man / Woman
4) Bones as tools*
5) Articulate the Gross – learning from injuries
6) Skeletal Healing
7) Musical bone learning*

1) Hey Macarena
Create a version of the Macarena where you touch parts of your body and name them, be it muscles / bones / or organs.  Reaching for both kidneys at the same time also gives one the opportunity to do the chicken dance.  You’ll need an outgoing student to get the ball rolling with this one : )

2) Bone composition Demo
Start 2 classes with a short demo of the rubber chicken bone trick where you place a clean chicken leg bone in a glass container of vinegar for 4 or more days.  Then demonstrate that the acid in the vinegar has removed the calcium leaving behind soft flexible bone tissue.

3) Pasta Man/Woman
Students should choose a different kind of pasta for the different categories of bones.
For example: penne pasta for long bones, macaroni for sesamoid bones and broken lasagna noodles for flat bones. Students can then glue them on a page or poster board in the shape of a human body and label the bones.

Students can really use any household objects for this project. Remind them that the more thought they put into their choices to represent certain bones, the more they will learn as they do the project.

4) Bones as tools
Where would we be as a species without tools made from bones?  What would an intelligent predator or human do with our bones?  (Think, “Planet of the Apes”) Okay, this is a little sci-fi, but what the heck.  It might engage some students.

Offer this list of implements and have students decide which human bone(s) would be best suited to make those implements or any others they can think of.  The student will obviously have to consider shape of the bone but make sure to require that students also identify where the bone is located.
The list :
salad tongs
Crow bar
Scraper / spatula type tool
Boat hook·

5) Articulate the Gross
Find some sports footage that demonstrates common ligament  injuries such as torn menisci, or an ACL tear.
Admittedly, care must be taken here to not make light of the pain and suffering shown in these videos:
This first one is very short and has great visual of the knee during the injury

This one has a great graphic of the knee showing ligaments and muscles and then showing a combination of footage of surgery and more graphics to show the ACL popping, the effect it has on the knee and the injury as seen by a surgeon.

Footage from sports that do not show as well but may engage more students.  The injury takes place and then about 10 seconds later a slow motion of the injury takes place.  The video continues but after the slow mo you can stop and discuss.

6) Skeletal healing: 4 activities relating to healing
A) This site offers a quick overview of the types of fractures and then gives a little quiz to take.
From WISC-Online (Univ of Wisconsin) retrieved 10/26/11
Ask students to try to identify what bone the authors could be using in the example.  Encourage students to think about more oddly shaped bones and what the various types of fractures might look like in those bones.

B) Okay, this one is not terribly academic… however, you can make it academic, and if you’re into action movies or Jackie Chan, you will also think it’s fun.  Following is a link to a quiz about injuries Jackie Chan has sustained while filming his movies – apparently he does his own stunts.  As students are taking the quiz and reading the answers, they should think about the bones, tissues, organs involved.  Think about the healing process that must take place in each instance.  If they are not sure how the healing process would work for a bone injury versus a break to skin integrity or any of the other injuries, they should look it up.  Always encourage students to re-check relevant previous material while studying / thinking.

C) Have students talk to someone who has broken a bone and ask them what the healing process was like.  Try to relate their description of how they felt to the steps involved in healing.  If it was a recent break, see if the person has an external callus and if they will let you touch it.  Look at pictures of the healing process for bone while you are talking about it.

D) Students (or you) could acquire some bones from a butcher, or a hunter and see if they can impose the different types of fractures on some long bones.  Obviously they won’t be able to reproduce an open fracture as it will be a bone without flesh, but try the others.  Understand that this process will also be different from a break inside a body because bone inside a body is living tissue with blood moving through it and wet marrow inside.
Have students discuss what is left in a dried bone?  What is missing?  What parts of the physiology of a dry bone can they identify?  If you have access to a fresh bone, can they identify more in that?

7) Update the bones songs
I have 2 songs that teach skeletal nomenclature along with a little physiology as well.  Have students write new lyrics to my bones songs and share them.  Alternatively, they can insert proper nomenclature into the old “ankle bone connected to the leg bone” song.

You can hear a clip of my bones songs, at the homepage of this site
Songs from “Groovin in the Hippocampus”:
Give Me Some Bones (bone physiology & axial skeleton)
Appendicularly Speaking (appendicular skeleton)

2 thoughts on “Skeletal System”

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