The Skeletal System

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SWBAT identify the functions of the skeletal system and name major bones.

Big Idea

The skeletal system provides the human body with structure and aids in movement. Scientists use common names for human bones.


10 minutes

I begin this lesson by asking students why they think we have a skeleton. Most students understand that the skeletal system provides structure to the body, but many do not know that the skeletal system works with the muscular system to help the human body move. Once we have identified these two key functions of the skeletal system, I ask student to identify any bones that they know. Many students use non-scientific names for the bones during this activity. This is perfectly okay as the aim of having students list what they already know is simply to activate their prior knowledge.

Guided Practice

10 minutes

I display the skeletal system diagram on the document camera and have students work with me on identifying the major bones of the human body. We discuss how the adult human body has 206 bones, but that we will only learn about major bones that affect our movement. As we identify each bone, we color it in using a different color. This color coding aids students in remembering the names of the bones. A student sample of color coded bones can be found here.

Skeletal System Song

15 minutes

Next, I show the students the lyrics to the skeleton song. The song is sung to the tune of "Head, Shoulders, Knees, and Toes" and provides students with a quick an easy way to learn the names of twelve of the bones we are studying. I always encourage students to add on to the song with their own verse to include the other bones we are studying. 

A video of my students singing the song can be found here.


15 minutes

To assess student knowledge of the major bones of the human body, I give a skeletal system quiz a few days after the initial lesson. I display a skeletal system word list on the document camera so that students do not need to worry about correct spelling and can copy the bone names onto their paper. My hope is that all students achieve 80% or higher in this quiz.