Investigation Sequence


Human Body Bones

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Focus Questions



Content: Earth, Physical, & Life

Bones are groups of living cells.

Bones support and protect.

Bones have calcium and the amount of calcium relates to the strength of bones.

The back bone

Joints include fixed, ball and socket, hinged,

Cross cutting concepts

Form and function are related. (bones hollow to reduce mass, but provide strength, ...)

Science Practice


Personal, Social, Technology, Nature of Science, History


Background information


Activity Sequence

Exploration Activity

Invention Activities

Expansion Activity

Activity Descriptions


Activity 1. “Bone Makeup”

1. Teacher will show students a picture of a bone pointing out the various parts of the bone, and reviewing important vocabulary.

2. Students will create a clay model of the bone, labeling the parts of it.

3. Teacher will introduce the four joints of the human body.

4. The teacher will demonstrate the movement of the joints.

5. Teacher will provide examples of each joint.

6. Students will match up joints with examples.

Activity 2 “Hollow Strength”

1. Students will roll up a sheet of paper (8 ½ x 11) about 1in. wide into a cylinder.  They will make 3 of these (paper bones).

2. Students will stand the bones up on their ends, placing a paper plate on top of the bones.

3. Teacher will ask students to tell what is happening- the hollow rolls will support the plate.

4. Students will begin to add weights (wooden blocks) to the plate.

5. Students will count how many blocks the plate can hold before it collapses the bones.

6. Students will roll 3 more sheets of paper as tightly as they can so that there is no hollow section.

7. Students will stand these “bones” up as before placing the same plate on top of them.

8. Students will place weights on top of the plate until they collapse.

9. Students will deduce what happened.  Teacher will explain that hollow bones were able to support more weight.  Teacher will also explain that having a hollow center gave the bones a better design and made them stronger. Teacher will continue explaining that the large bones in our body are also hollow, which makes them strong so they can support more weight, but light, so it takes less energy to move them.

Activity 3 “Deboning”

1. In cooperative learning groups, students will observe chicken legs soaked in vinegar in jars.

2. Students will observe bones that have not been placed in vinegar.

3. Students will compare and contrast the similarities and differences of the sets of bones.

4. Students will deduce that the bones that were placed in vinegar were weaker and more flexible.

5. The teacher will explain that the vinegar contains an acid which dissolves the calcium phosphate in the bones.  Without calcium bones will lose their hardness and will become weaker.

Activity 4

1. Students will get the following material: 2 large, 2 medium, and 2 small empty thread spools, 1 pencil, scissors, ruler, hole puncher, string, and tape.

2. Students will draw 5 circles on the cardboard by tracing the base of 2 large, 2 medium, and 1 small spools of thread.

3. Students will cut the circles out and will punch holes through the center of them.

4. Students will cut an 18in. (45 cm) length of string.

5. Students will begin threading the spools of thread together beginning with the largest spools, taping the string to the bottom of the largest spool (cardboard circles of corresponding sides will be threaded between each pair of spools.)

6. Students will blow up a balloon and will place it on top of the model.

7. Students will stand the column of spools on the table (largest on the bottom) and push top spools about 2 inches to the side.

8. Teacher will explain that the small spools at the top represent the cervical vertebrae, the medium spools represent the thoracic vertebrae and the larger bottom spools represent the lumbar vertebrae.  The teacher will also explain that because the vertebrae, like the spools, are not permanently attached together the human body can bend and lean in different directions. Between each pair of vertebrae is a disk of cartilage that acts as a shock absorber, just as the cardboard circle between the spools keeps them from knocking together. Without this flexible disc the vertebrae would grind together and the body would be able to twist, turn, or bend the torso without pain and damage.

Scary. Creepy. Weird. Cool. That’s what you may say about skeletons on Halloween.  Now you can easily make one in your classroom.  Close your eyes and think of yourself as a skeleton.  Imagine all your bones from the top of your head down to your toes.  Did you know that when fully grown, you will have 206 bones in your body?

  1. On the chalkboard, list the names of all the bones you want to include when you make your skeleton.  Copy the list on paper.
  2. Next, take measurements of all the bones on your list, using yourself as a model.  Write measurements next to the appropriate bone on the list.
  3. Either working in a small group or individually, start drawing your bone pieces on your poster board, using your measurements.  Label all your pieces so you will know which are which.  Then, cut out the pieces.  Finally, connect the various bones using brads or glue.
  4. When you have completed your skeleton, insert a string near the top of its head and hang your masterpiece in the classroom.

Materials Needed:  Activity 1. Picture of bones, Example of Bones, Pictures of Joints, and clay.  Activity 2 - Paper, tape, Paper plates, measuring cups, and weights (blocks-small). Activity 3. 4 chicken leg bones, vinegar, and container (4 jars). Activity 4 Empty thread spools (assorted sizes), string, scissors, tape, balloons, ruler, and hole puncher. Activity 5 Poster board, brads, medium and small, glue, scissors, tape measures, metric conversion charts and string

Background Information

The skeletal system of the human body is made up of bones.  These bones make up the body’s shape and protect the internal delicate body parts.  An adult person has about 206 bones in his/her body.  The number of bones in a person’s body varies from person to person.  This is due to the discrepancies in the number of little bones in the hands and feet.  The bones in the human body are distributed in the way:  skull=29, spine=26, ribs and breastbone=25 shoulders, arms, and hands=64, pelvis, legs and feet=62. The central support system for the body is the spine.  The spine is made up of 26 linked bones called vertebrae.


  1. What things did you notice about your skeleton that is different from the real you?  Hoe could this skeleton move?
  2. What did you notice about the bone sizes? Where are big bones? Little ones? Why?
  3. What do the brad connectors and your joints have in common?  Why is it necessary to use brads for joining some bone but not others?

Summative Assessment:

Activity 1

1)    Students will color and label the parts of a bone on a ditto sheet.

2)    Students will match the joints of the body with examples that represent their movement.

Activity 2

1)    Students will observe both models of the bones and will record the differences.

Activity 3

1)    Students will observe and compare/contrast the bones using a Venn diagram.

Activity 4

1)    After making model, students will label the three regions of the back.

2)    Students will be able to explain how the spine moves.

Activity 5

1)    Students will be able to explain their models structure.

2)    Students will present their model to the class.

Generative Assessment:

  1. Why are bones necessary, and how do they work?
  2. What is my responsibility for healthy bones?

“Bones” (Skeletal System)

Assessment outcomes

States/constructs what the skeletal system is, including total number of bones in the body.

States/constructs 2 bones and the Body organs that they protect.

Describes/constructs how the body helps us move

States/constructs that there are five types of joints and what they are 

Tells 2 ways to keep your bones healthy

Describes the relationship of form and function


Dr. Robert Sweetland's notes