Children are very interested in their bodies. Observing and asking questions about the human body allows young children to explore such science concepts as diversity, variation and how certain structures have certain functions. Does everyone in my family have the same eye, hair and skin color I have? How does my wrist move, and what can I do because my wrist moves like that? And how are my toes similar to and different from my fingers? Explore these different concepts of body science with your first or second grader.
Gather family data: Your reader-writer can begin to keep track of some of the characteristics of your family or the people in your neighborhood. Construct a chart to keep track of, say 10 family members or neighbors. Of the 10, how many have brown eyes, how many have blue? How many have black hair, how many have brown hair? Once you have recorded this information, ask your child, “What do we think it tells us? If we were to find out about 10 more people what do you think we’d find?” For a good activity that provides an introduction to making comparison charts, go to Sid the Science Kid’s Charts activity.
Parts of parts: OK, so now you have kept track of eye color, but what about that black circle (called the pupil) in the middle your eye? Is it always the same? Have your child look directly into your eyes under different light conditions to see that it actually changes size. She should begin to notice that with more light, the pupil gets smaller, and if there is less light the pupil gets larger. Encourage your child to pay attention to and wonder about the purpose of even small parts of her body.
Record your pulse: Have your child use his writing skills, with your help, to record his pulse at different times. First, you should practice finding his pulse by placing an index finger between the bones near the wrist on the palm-side of one of his hands. Once you’ve located the pulse, count the beats in 15 seconds by using a watch with a second hand. Record this number after different activities such as sitting, eating, exercising, etc., to see if the activity has changed the number of beats. One’s pulse rate is usually stated as the number of beats per minute, so multiply the number of beats in 15 seconds by 4 to find this number—for instance if you count 18 beats in 15 seconds, multiply 18 by 4 to find the pulse rate of 72 beats per minute.