Parts of you

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To help students explore the idea that human body parts depend on each other.

Areas of Study

Science (awareness of the function of body parts)
Language Arts (questioning, oral communication)
Art (drawing, tracing, painting)


To increase the awareness of the interdependence of body parts and interdependence of family and school, the students will:

  • State ways in which parts of the human body depend on other parts.
  • Give examples of how a breakdown in one part of the body influences the entire person.
  • Compare interdependence in the human body with the functioning of a family.
  • Demonstrate greater willingness to work together as a group and with other class members.

Suggested Time

One entire morning or two afternoons


Butcher paper, crayons, pencils, paint (optional), scissors

Comments to the Teacher

If you think your students will have difficulty in tracing around their bodies, you may wish to ask for a parent volunteer to help you trace and cut out body forms. Or you can ask an older group of students from another class to help you. By utilizing other children, the concept of systems will be emphasized.

Activity 1

One common art project for grades K-3 can easily be used, to introduce the idea of interdependence. Make a picture of each child by having the child lie down on butcher paper and tracing his or her outline. If you like, you can then cut out the figure and allow the child to paint or color in the hair, clothes, features, etc. Play a question game, pointing to parts of various children’s pictures:

  • How do Anna’s feet depend on her eyes? (she has to see to walk, to wash her feet)
  • How does George’s hair depend on his hands (to be combed)
  • How does your left arm depend on your right?

You may wish to talk a little about the handicapped as part of this exercise. What happens when part of the human system breaks down, or is missing? If some very important parts don’t work, a person may die; but often, other parts simply work extra hard to make up for the missing part. Thus, blind people sometimes develop very acute hearing; if a person has only one leg, it will be extra strong.

Extend the analogy to the family. If a parent or sibling goes away or is sick, does the family work as well? Do chores get done, and does everyone get as much loving attention, or have as much fun? What should other members of the family do to help when a family member is sick or absent? (Try harder to keep the family going, just as the body adjusts to keep itself going.)

Activity 2

Discuss how we depend on one another in the classroom. It has been said that one of the most difficult tasks with young children is teaching Johnny why he should pick up a paper that Jimmy dropped. The idea of a “class body” may help the children to see themselves as parts of a whole group. Make a composite child picture, using a copy of some part of every student’s picture.