Teaching a Unit on the Human Body Systems

teaching the human body systems

Teacher friend, are you wondering how to teach the human body systems? While teaching grade 4 5 6 students the topic of the human body is probably one of our most relevant science units, knowing how to teach it can be difficult. Read on to learn tips, ideas, and strategies to teach students about the body systems. 

In what order do you teach the human body systems?

Schools will vary in the order of teaching the human body systems. However, below is an order that I use. This makes sense to me as you can see how the body systems build upon one another. 
Also, NGSS is looking for students to be able to make a connection to how the body systems work together. Using this order, you can continue reevaluating and discussing how they help one another.  

Body Systems:

     We do cover other systems but briefly are the integumentary system (hair, skin, and nails) and the immune system. These smaller systems can usually be taught within a day or two. 

Why choose this method?

Organizing and teaching the parts, function, and workings of our bodies in this way makes more sense.
Learning about how the human body is organized explains how small things can grow into bigger things. That is, cells come together to make specialized cells. Specialized cells form tissues, and tissues form organs. A group of organs works together to build an organ system.
This line of thinking makes more sense to the students and allows them to understand better how our bodies grow and work.

Teaching the Human Body Systems

Before starting your unit, begin with what students already know and build on their learning. For this reason, start with the skeletal and muscular systems first. From a very young age, children learn about bones and muscles. So, review and further go into greater depth of the types of bones and muscles, what they do, how they form, etc. Just as the skeletal system is the framework for human bodies, bones and muscles are the frameworks for the unit.
The next unit is the digestive system. This system is an excellent connection to the muscular system because the stomach is a smooth muscle, and it operates without any thought. Therefore, it is essential to continually relate to how each system works with one another and talk about them separately.
After each unit, ask students to link their learning to the previous body systems and see how the systems work together by keeping our bodies running smoothly.

Next, teach the circulatory system. This system links with so many others because blood flows in and out of many organs around the human body. This has a natural connection to the respiratory system. In other words, once our bodies take in a substance, it eventually needs to release it.  This is why the excretory system should be taught next.
     The final two units have to do with growth and development, the endocrine and reproductive system. Leave these units to the end as they touch upon the reproduction, leading to a lot of giggles.
However, students are older, more mature, and have heard about other embarrassing things that our bodies do, so they are ready for these body systems and will have good questions. Just be informative, and it will be OK; although I won’t lie, I do still dread the reproductive system chat! 😀

Ideas to start your human body unit

With so many new words and concepts, it might be good to start by covering important vocabulary terms for each human body system.
Covering vocabulary first can help students gain background knowledge
Anchor charts or posters that detail each word can be hung in your classroom as a reminder of the parts of each system. Studies show that the more times you see a word, especially when linked to a visual, the higher the retention rate. 
Brainpop, Flocabulary, and KidsHealth are all great resources to use to introduce each body system to your students. 
Tips, tricks, and exciting ideas to use to teach about the human body systems

     Science reading worksheets are a great way to further student knowledge.

Students can detail and sequence each part of the system, how it works, and how it interacts with the other parts. In addition, the comprehension questions allow you to know if a student understands what they have read.

     Being a visual learner, I love to color and make things visually pleasing. I know I am more likely to remember it. I like to have students complete doodle sketch notes to allow them to retain information better. Studies show that students who color have a better retention rate because they use both sides of their brains, enabling them to make more connections to the material. This activity will help students to further solidify their knowledge. 

Adding an arts integrated approach to the body systems with doodles and drawing
These graphic organizers also include one that will have students identify how the body systems work together. This will reinforce and review past units and get students to think about how they work together. 

Hands on learning

   Hands-on learning is what science is always about.

Whether experimenting to

students learn best through hands-on activities. So please include as many as you can in your classroom to keep them engaged. 

Review activities

     Task cards and flipbooks will help further student understanding of the human body. Either of these methods is an excellent formative assessment to determine their level of knowledge. In addition, they allow for collaboration and creativity, and students love them.

Assessing students can be as simple (and boring) as a standard test or as fun as a culminating activity.

For example, having students create a wanted poster for parts of the circulatory system can make assessment fun for both you and them. They don’t realize that a poster is a form of assessment of their knowledge of the different parts of the system, how it works, and its relation with the other parts. Plus, these posters look great hanging up!


project for the circulatory system


     I hope you have gained some ideas about the order of teaching the human body. Below is my bundle, which includes everything discussed above and more. The unit also includes many digital options to help you differentiate amongst your learners.




Share it:

You might also like...