Fun, easy, simple activities to play and learn about the body
I love the human body. It’s just incredible. It’s complex, yet simple. I just love watching my daughter learn about her body and apply it. We have been learning about the brain, and she recently looked at me with a bright smile instead of descending into tantrum and she said “think! Brain to think!” And then she solved her problem herself….I was so proud.
When we understand how our body works, we can better take care of our bodies, form healthy habits and we can love, empathise and help others around us who struggle with health conditions that much better. Read my blog post on why I teach my child how her body works here.
So what are the 6 ways I teach my child how her body works?
- Talk about it
- Sing about it
- See it
- Draw it
- Make it
- Use it
The best activities are simple, quick to set up with huge learning potential. In this post, I give you just that! Tell me in the comments which one you’re planning to use with your little learner. I’d love to know!
Read or watch
In the following video, I outline the 6 ways I teach my child how the body works with examples so that you can watch while you wash dishes or fold laundry! But if you’re feeding the baby, keep the noise level down and read my post instead…
Talk about it
Teach your child with observation and open-ended questions
Choose one body part and talk about it for a week whenever you think about it e.g. your nose.
“Where is your nose?” Be careful about too many quiz questions. You don’t want to be constantly quizzing your child. Instead try to enter into a two-way discussion about that body part with your child by asking an open-ended question.
If they are younger (18 months – 2.5 years), you may want to have an observation discussion where you make observations about the body part giving them more interesting information.
“Can you tell me about your mouth?”
“I can see it moving right now. You’re talking and it’s moving! Isn’t that cool!”
This may be enough for one conversation if they are young. You can extend or build on this when they are ready…
“Let’s think about some other ways we use our mouth.”
“I use my mouth for eating, do you use your mouth for eating?”
This conversation could lead many directions:
- Table manners (sitting while we eat, eating with our mouth closed etc.)
- Oral health habits (teeth brushing)
- Balanced diet
- Favourite foods
- Sometimes foods vs. everyday foods
- Trying new foods
- Digestive system
Sing about it
17+ songs and nursery rhymes to sing to learn body parts
Think about a favourite song that has a body part in it. Change it up and add new body parts:
Head, shoulders, knees and toes is a classic and a great way to get moving and have fun together. Change it up and sing “brain, heart, lungs and tummy…”or just start with one at a time. “Brain, shoulders, knees and toes…” then “Brain, heart, knees and toes…”
Here is a sizeable list of songs that you can use and change up that can help you teach your child about their body:
- Head shoulders knees and toes
- Change it up!
- “Brain, heart, lungs and stomach…”
- Hokey Pokey
- Dem bones – The skeleton song
- Parts of the body song
- Simon Says
- One little finger
- Where is thumbkin?
- Change this up and add body parts with these lyrics from Nursery Rhyme Central
- If you’re happy and you know it
- Open shut them
- Brush your teeth
- Hand washing song
- It’s raining it’s pouring
- Replace bumped his head with bumped his [body part]
- Start a conversation about what we do when we bump something a little bit and when we bump something really hard leading to bleeding or another serious injury.
- This can be quite useful if someone in the house has a more serious injury affecting mobility e.g. a broken leg
- It’s time to Wiggle – to the Farmer in the Dell
Music and movement has endless benefits for little learners from day 1! Here’s a list of just a few:
- Listening skills
- Language skills
- Reading readiness
- Rhyming and syllables
- Hand-eye coordination
- Following directions
- Gross motor skills
- Fine motor skills
- Social skills – bonding with other children or with adults e.g. Mum
- Love of music
- Educational concepts other than body parts such as colours, counting, animals and ABC
- Helps teach educational/academic material
- It’s just fun! Always good for kids…they need fun!
So sing, dance and move with with your little learner and learn something new!
We can see our heads, shoulders, knees and toes, but the brain, heart, lungs etc. is a lot more abstract especially for little minds. It’s therefore really important to show them visually what these organs look like, where they are on their body, and wherever possible, models of the organ in action. Children learn best when they have something tangible that they can hold, feel and see in action.
What are some simple and easy ways to help our child visualise what their inner organs and more look like?
Read a book
Check out your local library for some non-fiction books on the human body. It’s so important for children to learn to enjoy non-fiction books as well as fiction books. Let’s instil a love of lifelong learning in our children! It may seem like the non-fiction books are too detailed for them, but you don’t need to read every word! Focus on the pictures. If it has good engaging and interesting pictures, then you can make the book fun and interesting to read together. Revisit this book as you learn more about the body part, as you sing about it, draw it and make it!
I found this wonderful looking book by Usborne on Book Depository that I would love to get for Danai. Now I haven’t read it, but I know Usborne books and I love them so I thought I would share it here in case you are looking to buy a book similar!
“Look Inside Your Body” Usborne lift-the-flap – by Louie Stowell illustrated by Kate Leake
Watch it – use YouTube as your resource!
Find a YouTube video that teaches them about that organ. If you struggle with screen-time in your home, I’ve started a rule where my daughter has to earn her screen-time. And this is no different. For her to watchTV or YouTube on my phone, she needs to learn something, complete a chore and have some independent playtime. So If I wanted her to learn something new by watching a YouTube video, I would have her complete her chore and independent playtime and then teach her a little bit about the organ before she sat down to watch the video e.g. where’s your brain? Let’s talk about 3 things your brain helps you do. Now you can have some screen-time and watch a quick little video about your brain! Then I might have an independent play activity set up where she can learn more about the brain, for example our FREE print-laminate-and-go brain playdough mat where she can make playdough shapes and learn that the brain has different areas that do different things while she reinforces her shapes and colour knowledge.
My 2-year-old loves learning. We’ve recently started ‘earning’ screen-time in our household. If she wants to watch tv, she needs to learn something new, complete a household chore and have independent playtime. So before screen-time we often choose one of these ways to play and learn. I choose a different focus each week. This week, you might choose to play and learn about the brain with your child!
The activities coming up below will also help your child see it, reinforcing what they see in stylised images.
Play matching games with your child. Is your child in the positioning schema? If so, they’re likely to love this one!
Note…in my opinion, the best version of these activities are those that help them to visualise the organ in their own body e.g. pasting it on a photo of themselves or putting it directly on to their body.
Print-and-match to my little body
Print stylised body part images and have them attach these body parts to their body. Warning, lots of silly fun to be had here! You can use the lifesize organs in our “Inside my body activity pack” for this one!
Print-and-match to photos
Print stylised body part images and have them place/stick these body parts to photos of themselves or others. Our “Inside my body activity pack” also has smaller organs you can cut out for this one!
Print-and-match printable games
Use the matching games and colouring pages in our “Inside my body activity pack” for so much matching fun. There’s even a special bonus included!
Save paper and ink by getting creative with the screens or books you may have around the house. Choose a stomach, for example, in a book that you’re reading, or pull one up on your computer screen or cast it to the TV if you have google cast. . Have your child search some human body images e.g. the organs on our free match-it printable colouring sheets for another stomach. This can be the same stomach or a different image of a stomach.
The activities coming up below will also help your child see it, reinforcing what they see in stylised images.
Trace your toddler with chalk and label the body parts and organs
We love this activity at home! Danai giggles up a storm when she gets traced with chalk. She can then decorate her person how she likes. Sometimes I give her complete creative freedom if the goal is open-ended creative play. Other times I make it a more structured learning play session where we decorate it together. We draw in her organs and we write the names. The learning focus of this can change:
- Learning organs
- Learning letters
- Reading practice
- Drawing practice
- Writing practice
- New language practice
This is a great activity for a multilingual home. You can write the names in one colour chalk in English and another colour chalk in a different language. For example, we are learning my husband’s native language Shona at home, so we write Shona names as well as English.
It’s also a great memory exercise for Mum…
Human body colouring in and drawing activities
Learning is enhanced when we write it or draw it ourselves. The best part about this? All you need is two things you probably have at home already: paper and markers/crayons.
Depending on their age/developmental stage, draw their body together and have them or help them label the parts of their body they already know and can see. Extend their knowledge and understanding by adding a concept e.g. “Let’s draw your brain! Did you know you have a brain? Where do you think your brain could be?” Draw your brain together and talk about the things your brain can help you do.
Check out our my brain helps me poster or brain playdough mat in our TPT store. These are two activity resources you can have on the wall or on their activity bench to inspire creative play, games and conversations that can help them learn about their brain. Check out this Instagram reel for why I think it’s important to teach my child how her brain works.
Why do I teach her how her brain works?
- Growth mindset
- Because it controls everything!
If you don’t like your drawing skills (like me…haha check out the wonky leg in my playdough reels…), use the body outline and cut-out organs in our “Inside my body activity book“. You can even use the body outline and cut-out organs as a playdough mat, to make it. There’s even some in-colour printable playdough cards as a bonus in this printable! Drawing it yourself is definitely a great option. Cheaper and less paper used! It worked a treat and Danai thought it was amazing, but I’m definitely not an artist…so I prefer to print.
Playdough anatomy: Get creative by making playdough people
Make people and name their outer body parts, make them some clothes and enter into some dramatic play or…
Draw or print a body outline as a playdough mat and make inner organs or other body part. Talk about what each organ or body part does in their body. Focus on naming many different organs and body parts or just make one and focus more on how that particular organ or body part works.
Choose one from the list:
- Digestive system
Note that it’s best to choose one focus for a play session. Choose to make it an open play session to encourage learning on their own, or choose to make it more structured and intentional where you structure their learning by teaching them something new. Keep that something new to one new concept.
There are so many benefits to playing with playdough:
- motor skills
- hand-eye coordination
- pre-writing skills
- strengthens hand and wrist muscles
- calming sensory play
- and more!
Find some of these activities and more on our Instagram. Don’t forget to follow us there to get more activities and inspiration!
- Food and digestion with playdough
- How I teach my toddler how her brain works
- Why I teach my toddler how her brain works
Movement gets more oxygen into lungs by increasing breathing rate; movement gets blood flowing; movement is fun; movement can enhance learning.
These games will get you and your child moving, having fun, and learning all about their little body.
What body part am I using now?
This is a fun one to play at the park! We have this really cool roller at our park that Danai just loves. She loves anything that spins and makes her dizzy and throws off her balance. This is a great opportunity to talk about her brain and how it helps her balance! Our vestibular system and our cerebellum help us balance but when we spin and get dizzy our vestibular system and cerebellum get confused! We can then balance walk on the board bridge and talk about how our vestibular system and cerebellum aren’t confused now so we can balance and walk across the board bridge without falling off!
To the game…
- Choose an activity at the playground e.g. slide, swing, roller
- Ask what body part(s) they think they might be using during that activity.
- Have fun
- Talk about it some more!
- If they’re moving too quickly, talk about it when you stop for a snack or in the car on the way home.
If they’re not interested, that’s ok. It’s not an interest of theirs at the moment so try something else! There’s many other activities to try out in this blog.
The brain game
The brain game is designed for ages 2-8, and can be adapted for many developmental stages. It can be fun to play for a family game night, a play and learn session with your toddler, a family homeschool session involving all the ages, and even a whole class of students in a classroom.
My 2-year-old loves this game. We get out the game board and the shapes, and she has so much fun running around the house completing the activities on the cards and matching the colours and shapes. We have this game handy for filler moments. If she needs some fun connection time with Mum and I have 5 minutes, I pull out the game and we do a few cards. I’ll make it a full family game night soon too!
This game has a different colour shape for each major area of the cortex of the brain. For each major area of the brain there are activities to complete. There are different sets of instructions for different ages and different versions of the game to make it more or less difficult.
Click here to download the brain game and engage every area of their brain!
Act it out and play charades
Draw some body parts on small pieces of paper and hold a family fun night or play a game of charades in the classroom! The best part about having a toddler, preschooler or kindergartner drawing the pieces of paper is they have seen the answers which helps them understand the game and engage. They will enjoy it that much more!
If they’re not yet at the drawing stage or you’re looking for some printable flashcards/charades prompts, download these for some fun learning!
Choose a ‘body part of the week’
Doing preschool at home? Interested in having a my body unit in your classroom? Choose a body part as a theme for your week and learn it using a different category each day of the week! There are 6 ways, so I would suggest using the sing it category every day. Choose one or two songs that you love and sing them every day of the week to reinforce all that learning.
If you want to spread out the learning over a longer period of time, consider a ‘body aprt of the month’ instead!
There are so many fun activity ideas in this post that I know my 2.5-year-old loves. Life-size chalk drawings, playdough creations and the brain game are definite favourites!
If you’ve read this far, I know that you value teaching about the human body. I also know that action steps are important!
- Decide which body part you want to learn with your child/children/students
- Write down which categories or activities stand out to you as activities that will resonate with them
- Make a play plan! Download our invitations to play fridge planner and add in the activities you want to use this week!
- Save this post for future reference – I know you’ll want to come back to it!
- Save to Pinterest or to your favourites bar for those weeks you want to teach your children/students something new, but you’re just struggling for ideas that week.
- Final step: tell me in the comments what you are going to do! What activity? When? Writing these things down will help you follow through. I know it works for me!
Happy teaching, happy playing and happy learnin