In science and health classes, learning about the biology of the human body is an important part of a child's education. As one of the most important organs in the body, it only makes sense that this education should include lessons about the heart. Although a more in-depth understanding of the heart can wait until middle or high school, even young kids can learn the basics through fun activities.
A Healthy Heart Day
It is never too early to teach children about the steps necessary for ensuring good heart health. A healthy heart day can be combined with a school fundraiser like Skipping Rope for Heart that is designed to raise money for a heart health-related charity. Serve healthy snacks and meals and teach kids about how healthy eating helps keep their heart running well. Also, incorporate physical activity into the day, such as the above-mentioned skipping rope marathon, a run or a day of intramural sports. Tell the children that physical activity makes the heart stronger and healthy.
Show children a model or slides that point out the locations of some of the largest and most important organs in the body, such as the lungs, stomach and heart. Then, have children draw a body and draw in the major organs. You can make this more fun by assigning certain colours to the organs. Have them draw the heart in red. Then, look at the students' drawings and compare them with the model to show them whether or not they put the heart in the right place.
Create a handout that has a diagram of the heart. Draw a blank line with an arrow pointing to each of the major parts of the heart. You can make this more or less complex based on the age of the students involved. Teach a lesson on the major parts of the heart. Include both ventricles and atriums and the aorta. Then, have the kids fill in the blanks on their handout to label the parts of the heart. This will help them remember which part is which.
Teach the children that the pulse is an indication that the heart is pumping blood through their arteries. Show the children how to feel their pulse on their wrist and have them count how many times their heart beats in a minute. Then, have them perform a light activity that will get the heart rate up and have them measure their pulse again. Explain how, as we exercise, the heart works harder to pump more blood through the body. You can conduct more intense activities followed by periods of rest and measure the pulse at regular intervals to show how it can vary; talk about how exercise actually strengthens the heart.