No Bones About It-What Do We Need for Strong Bones?

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Students will be able to demonstrate the importance of calcium in bone development by participating in an experiment.

Big Idea

Helping students to understand the importance of calcium in their diet becomes a fun activity in this hands-on lesson.


10 minutes

This is an inquiry lesson that will pique your students' curiosity for the lesson content.  You will need four toilet paper tubes.  Two will be used during this section of the lesson and two in the guided practice portion of the lesson. 

Take one of the toilet paper tubes and using an X-Acto knife, cut small pieces out of the tube to create a lattice type effect.  Do not cut anything out of the other tube.  You will also need some books to stack on top of the tubes during the activity.  Tape one solid tube to a table and one with lattice to another table. See example.

I divide the class into two groups and have each group gather around a table.  I show the students the two toilet paper tubes.  I tell the students, I have two tubes from the inside of toilet paper rolls.  One tube is solid.  The other tube has holes cut in it.  We are going to conduct a little experiment.  I want you to make a prediction.  If I were to take these two tubes and place books on top of them, which one do you think will hold more books without crumbling, the one with holes or the one without?  I listen to the students' responses.

Okay, now, we are going to see which tube is stronger and can hold more books.  When I tell you to, you are going to place a book on top of the tube.  We are going to keep putting books on the tubes until one of the tubes collapses. 

I tell the students who will be place the book on the tube. After the students place one we continue place books until one of the tubes collapses-hopefully the one with the holes cut out of it.  I ask the students why they think the tube collapsed.  We then move over to the SmartBoard to continue the lesson. 

Direct Instruction

10 minutes

For this portion of the lesson, I use my SmartBoard.  If you have a SmartBoard, the file No Bones About It easily be downloaded and opened.  If you have a different type of interactive whiteboard, you can still use this lesson by opening the file in Smart Notebook Express.  Click here to download. There is also a PDF of the slides so you can recreate this part of the lesson.  Click here to access them: No Bones About It-PDF I gather my students in front of the Smartboard.  I have cards with each student's name printed on.  These cards are used for selecting who will come up to the Smartboard.

I open the first slide (SmartBoard Slide 1) with the lesson objective written in "student friendly" terms.  There is a content objective and a language objective to help focus on vocabulary expansion for my English Learners (ELs) to be congruent with SIOP instructional techniques (Click here to learn more about SIOP). I read these objectives aloud for my students.

Content Objective:
I can describe how calcium is important for building strong bones.

Language Objective:
I can tell a friend what some foods are that will help me build strong bones.

Slide 2:  Our skeleton is a structure of our body.  Its function is to support our body and help us move.

Slide 3:  Our skeleton is made of bones.  There are 206 bones in the human body.

Slide 4:  It is important to have strong bones.  If our bones are not strong, they are more likely to break.  I point out where the broken bone is on the x-ray.  We talk about how you need to wear a cast to help broken bones heal.  

Slide 5: Calcium is a mineral that is found in foods.  Calcium makes bones stronger, but it also does other important things in your body.  If you do not get enough calcium, your body will take calcium away from your bones, making them weaker.

Slide 6:  To keep your bones strong, you need to eat plenty of foods with calcium.  Foods that have the most calcium are milk, yogurt and cheese.   Spinach and sardines also have a lot of calcium. 

Slide 7:  I invite student to come up to the SmartBoard and sort the foods according to which ones have calcium and which ones do not.  

Slide 8: It is now Turn and Talk Time.  Turn and Talk allows my students to expand their vocabulary and improve their English skills.  The students have assigned Turn and Talk partners.  I ask them to hold hands with their partners and hold their hands in the air so I know that everyone has a partner.  I then say to them, Tell a friend one food you will try to eat tonight that has a lot of calcium in it.  I give them time to talk to their partner and when it is obvious that they have completed their discussion, I call several students to share their ideas.

We then move to our seats for guided practice.

Guided Practice

15 minutes

For this section of the lesson, you will need two toilet paper tubes.  You will also need a roll of duct tape.  I precut several strips of the tape so I do not need to do it during the lesson.  You will also need the Smart Notebook file Calcium Foods Randomizer.  If you do not have a SmartBoard, you could also print a variety of pictures that show foods with high levels of calcium and those that have little or no calcium to use in place of the Smartboard.

I divide the students into two groups (you could also make more groups by adding more toilet paper tubes).  I place a toilet paper tube on each table.  I then give the students directions for the activity, I want you to think about our activity we did at the beginning of our lesson.  Remember the toilet paper tubes?  The tubes could actually be a model of one of our bones.  A model is a representation of something.  It isn't possible for us to use one of our own bones to do an activity, so we use a model instead.  What do you think was wrong with the roll that had all the holes?  (Call on students to share their ideas...hopefully, a connection is made to calcium).

Well, if our bones are weak when we don't get enough calcium, how could we make them stronger?  That's right.  We can eat foods that have lots of calcium.  That's what we are going to do.  We are going to make these bones stronger by eating more calcium.  We are going to take turns clicking on this button on the Smartboard.  It will pick a food for us to eat.  If that food has a lot of calcium, we will add a piece of tape to our "bone".  If it doesn't, no tape will be added.  We will continue until everyone has had a chance to go to the SmartBoard.  We will then try stacking books on top of our "bone" again.  We will see if it has been made stronger by eating more foods with calcium.

The students take turns going to the Smartboard and selecting a food by pushing the randomizer button.  We discuss if the food has a lot of calcium or not.  If the food has a lot of calcium, I give the student a piece of duct tape to wrap around her teams toilet paper tube.  When everyone has had a turn, we stack books on the tube, one at a time, to see if it is stronger.  I again relate the strength of the tube back to the strength of our bones.  I want the students to make the connection between the calcium they eat and how it can strengthen their bones. 


Independent Practice and Informal Assessment

7 minutes

For this portion of the lesson, you will need Find the Calcium activity sheet included as a PDF with this lesson.  I distribute copies of the activity sheet to my students and have them put their name at the top.

I say to the students,We have been talking about foods that help make our bones stronger.  We know these foods have a lot of calcium in them.  Now it's time for you to figure out what foods have a lot of calcium and can help you build strong bones. I want you to find the foods that have a lot of calcium and color them in.  If the food does not have a lot of calcium, you do not need to do anything with it. When you are all done, I will check your work.  I do go through the worksheet and tell them what each item is.  This minimizes questions once the students begin working.

The students begin working and I circulate around the room to check their understanding.  When the students are done, I check their work.  To wrap up the class, I have the students tell me one food that they would eat that has calcium before they line up at the end of the day for dismissal.