Got Bones?

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Students will be able to obtain, evaluate and communicate information which describes what a skeleton is and its major function.

Big Idea

Students get familiar with the human skeleton by labeling major bones.


15 minutes

Gather students on the rug using a preferred classroom management technique. I like to use my “Stop, look, listen.” The students stop what they are doing, look at me and listen for the direction. I usually preface the direction with, “When I say go…” This reminds the students to listen to the whole direction before moving to follow the directive.

In this case I would say, “When I say go I would like you to clear your space, push in your chair and go take a spot on your dot. Walking feet go.”

By saying “walking feet” I am reminding the students to use walking feet in the classroom to ensure safe movement between areas.

When all of the students are seated on their dot in the rug area I tell them we are going to dance along with a very important feature of the human body.

“Boys and girls we are going to watch and follow along the actions of a song I will play on the SMARTBoard. The actions will be shown to use by a very important physical feature of the human body. Without this feature we would be a squishy heap on the floor. It is something you see frequently at Halloween. Does anybody want to take a guess at what it is?”

I select a student who is following the correct classroom procedure of raising their hand.

“You are right Bryan it is the skeleton.”

“Now remember you will need to keep your skeleton in your control by following the directions of the song on the board. If your skeleton gets out of control I will need to have you take a seat at the back table until I see you have your skeleton back under your control. Does everybody understand?”

“Okay that’s great. Now I need you to find a space on the rug area where you will not bang bones with anybody else and we will get started.”

When I see that everybody is standing ready to begin I start the Dem Bones song on the SMARTBoard.

Students dancing to skeleton dance song.

Due to the songs length we may do it twice, but this depends on students’ excitement and participation.  

After the song I have the students sit back down on their spots by singing the “Spot on Your Dot Song” song.

"Raise your hand if you know what a skeleton is."

I select a student who is following the classroom protocol of raising their hand.

"Well done Wesley; a skeleton is a bunch of bones. Does anyone know what a skeleton does, what its job is?"

I very seldom have student raise their hand to reply to this question, so I usually go ahead and tell them and show them. 

I stand up and say, I am going to give you a clue as to what a skeleton does for us. This is me with a skeleton." I stand up very straight and tall. "This is me without a skeleton." I drop to the floor and lay there.

I take a seat back in my chair. 

"Now does anyone have an idea what a skeleton does?"

I select a student who has their hand raised to respond. 

"Helping us stand up is a great answer Harper, but it is even more than that. A skeleton gives our body support and protects delicate organs."

I tell everyone to stand up. "Now that we are all standing up I am going to pull out my bone sucker and when I turn it on it will suck all of our bones out of our body. Ready?"

I pretend to be holding a hose like object, click my tongue and make a sucking noise. Then we all drop to the floor.

"Try and sit up without any bones." Of course some of the students do and I remind them they do not have any bones in their arms or wrists to push themselves up. We end up just lying in a heap on the floor.

"Okay now I am going to use my tongue, which is a muscle to click the button to reverse the bone sucking machine. That will help us get our bones back and get the support we need. Ready?" Once again I click my tongue and this time I make a blowing noise.

I jump back up and the students follow my example.

"Thank goodness we have our bones back. Now we can sit with support and read this cool book about bones." 


I use this video clip song and discussion to engage my students in a fun way to begin thinking about skeletons and bones. The song and discussion captures the students attention and help them access current knowledge; what is a skeleton? Once the students know what a skeleton is, they will be more receptive to learning about the function of a skeleton and comparing the human skeleton to other animals. 


40 minutes

Once the students are seated I tell them, “Today we are going to read a book called Bones, by Steve Jenkins (be aware that this book is a little long for beginning kindergarten students so I tend to condense the book by picking out pieces of information to read).”


As we read through the book I ask the students which bone they think it might be and how they think that particular bone works. For example, “Which three bones do you think will be added to the hand?” “What can we do with our arm?” etc.

We will also have short discussions about the information we learn in the “More About Bones” section towards the end of the book.  

I use the Fair Sticks to select different students to respond to the questions.

You will need to gauge your audience’s attention span and interest level to determine how many questions you ask and the length of discussions you have.   


When the book is over I ask the students to take a seat around the edge of the rug by singing the “Edge of the Rug” song.

Once everyone is seated in a u around the edge of the rug I bring down my skeleton from the science center. I use my science center to meet the teaching challenge of - How can I develop a classroom culture that encourages curiosity and a desire to understand the world through scientific exploration?

Bones in the science center.

I sit at the open end and place my skeleton model in front of me.

Skelly the resource skeleton.

“This is Skelly my human skeleton. Does anyone know what the function, or the job, of the skeleton is?”

I select a student who is following the correct classroom protocol of raising their hand to respond to the question.

“Great work Colin; the function of the skeleton is to provide the human body with support. If we did not have a skeleton we would be like a jellyfish on land – all squishy and mushy with our insides held together by our skin.”

“Can anyone tell me what Skelly is made up of?”

I select a different student to respond.

“You are right Finneas; Skelly is made up of bones.”

 “Our skeleton is made up of lots of bones. Today at one your work stations you are going to work on answering the question, “What are some bones that make up our skeleton?””

“I am going to show you on Skelly a few of the major bones you will be labeling today on your skeleton.”

I use Skelly to point out the:

  • Skull
  • Ribs
  • Spine
  • Pelvis
  • Radius
  • Femur and tibia.

These bones have been labeled with stickers so the students can use Skelly as a resource at the work station.

When I show the students the bones on Skelly I also have them touch that particular bone with a hand too. This helps my students make a physical connection with that particular bone as well as a visual one.  

“At this station you will find a blank skeleton mat which looks like this (I hold one up for the students to see). You will also find a small label sheet like this one (once again I hold one up for the students to see).”

Skeleton Master                                                 Labels for the skeleton

“It will be your job to cut apart the labels and glue them in the right spot on your skeleton.”

“Skelly will be there to help you out and so will another resource; a skeleton mat which looks like this one (I hold it up for the students to see). You can use this mat to match the right label to the correct bone on your skeleton.”


 “Who can repeat back to me what you are going to do at this work station?”

I select a student who I know is going to give an accurate response because I do not want other students to become confused by incorrect information.

“Well done April; you told me you are going to cut apart the labels and glue them to match the correct bone on your skeleton.”

“Does anyone have any questions?”


Once I feel the group has a good grasp of the instructions I send the students over one table group at a time to maintain a safe and orderly classroom. It usually sounds like this;

“Table number one go have some skeleton fun.

Table number two, you know what to do.

Table number three, hope you were listening to me, and

Table number four, you shouldn’t be here anymore.”


Allow the students 20 minutes to work on this activity.

I set the time on the visual timer and remind the students to look at the timer so they will use their time wisely.


Students working on labeling their skeleton.

Student using the resource mat.                                     Student using Skelly as a resource. 

In this activity the students are exploring resources to obtain information to answer the question; “What are some bones that make up our skeleton?” The students will practice using resources to obtain information to complete a task. Once the task is completed the students will be able to evaluate if they have the right information by checking the resource mat. Once the students have determined if the information they have is correct, they will be able to communicate the learned information to others.

Students need to develop the skill of obtaining information from various resources in order to determine the best way to answer a question or hypothesis they have.  


At another work station the students are directed to take a Ziploc bag containing pieces of the human skeleton. The student must empty the contents of the Ziploc bag, sort them into the separate parts, and then put them back together (much like a puzzle) to form a complete human skeleton. Once the student is confident he/she has it put together the right way, he/she glues the pieces on a black piece of construction paper so that it looks like an x-ray of a complete human skeleton (health and visual discrimination).

Students putting together skeleton puzzle pieces.

Student putting together her puzzle.                                 Student with completed skeleton puzzle.

A fun student sample of putting the skeleton puzzle together.


At another station the students are provided with white pipe cleaners which they are to use to form a skeleton out of. The skeleton they create can be either human or animal. There are Images of various skeletons at this station for the students to use a resource as well as a variety of different text sources. While working at this station we compare the skeleton images to see which bones look similar to bones found in the human skeleton. When the students are working at this station it is perfectly okay for them to create and come up with their very own skeletons. For example I had one student who came up with a t-rex skeleton. There was no model for this, she came up with it on her own. When I asked her how she made it, she told me she remembered it in her brain from when she went to the museum up in Washington D.C (engineering). 

Students building their own skeletons.                               Student made fish skeleton.

Student sharing her t-rex skeleton.


At the math station the student find counting jars containing different amounts of “bones.” These bones are just images of bones mounted on cardstock and laminated for durability. The students dump out the contents of the jar, arrange them in an orderly fashion, count and record the amount in their math journal. Then they put the “bones” back into the jar and select a new jar to count (math).   

Student working with the counting jar.                            

Student sample of recording of number of bones in a counting jar.    

Another sample of recording.


These activities provide the students with the opportunity to apply and expand their understanding of the concepts within new contexts and situations thus elaborating on the information they have been presented with. 


10 minutes

When the time is up I blow two short blasts on my whistle and use the “Stop, look, listen” technique mentioned above.

“When I say go, I would like you to clean up your space remembering to take care of our things, push in your chair, place your work in the correct bin and use walking feet to take a spot on your dot. Walking feet, go.”

Students know to place their work in either the “finished work” bin or the “under construction” bin. Work in the “under construction” bin can be completed later in the day when the student finds they have spare time to fill in.

Student sample of labeling exercise.


Once the students are seated on their spot on the rug I tell them that their exit ticket for today is to point to and tell me one of the bones they know which makes up the human skeleton.  


“For today’s exit ticket you need to share with us one of the bones you know which makes up the human skeleton. When you have shared a bone with us you can use the hand sanitizer and get your snack.”

I use the fair sticks to determine the order of the students.

If a student is unable to give me an answer, they know they can do one of two things.

  1. They can ask a friend to help, or
  2. They can wait until everyone else has gone and then we will work on a bone together.


I use this exit ticket process as a way for the students to communicate one of the pieces of information they learned by explaining to me the name of one human bone which can be found in our skeleton. Through this explanation process I can see who is able to obtain and retain information learned on a given topic. 



10 minutes

In order to assess if my students have successfully understood and retained the information presented in the lesson I set out an evaluation task for morning work the next day.

As the students arrive I have the task written on the chart at the head of the classroom. It reads, “Draw a skeleton in your science journal and label four bones using resources from around the room to obtain information.”

My lower performing student may have difficulty with this task so I would assist them by having them dictate to me what the bones are called. My hope is that the student would at least go and find the resource and explain to me how they would use it.

I would have the students bring their work to me when they had completed it and I would conference with them about where they got their information from and how they know their information is correct.  I would ask the student what the main function of the skeleton is and I would make anecdotal notes directly into their science journal with their work as a record of our quick conference.  

Student sample of labeling bones - teacher assisted

Student sample of labeling bones - used Skelly as a resource

Student sample of labeling bones - not so scientific drawing