Lessons on the Heart for the 3rd Grade

Most third graders enjoy learning about the way their bodies work with hands-on, interactive activities. While students at this age know what the heart is, many do not yet understand exactly what it does or how it works. Students will be amazed to learn just how hard their hearts work, which will help them understand why it is so important to take care of this vital organ.

  1. The Beating Heart

    • Teach students how to take their pulse by placing two fingers either on the wrist or neck. Have students find their resting heart rate by counting the number of beats for 30 seconds then doubling it. Then have students run in place for one minute and take their pulse again. Have students compare their own data, then use the data to create a class graph and find the average heart rate of a third-grader. Discuss why the heart has to beat faster after physical exertion.

    One Amazing Muscle

    • To illustrate how hard the heart works, distribute one stress ball to each pair of third-graders. Instruct students to take turns squeezing the stress ball with one hand while the other partner counts. Students should first try to squeeze the ball the same number of times that their resting heart beats in one minute. Then, challenge them to squeeze the ball the same number of times that their heart beats after exercising. As an extension, have students try to copy the heartbeats of other animals, such as the hummingbird. Discuss why heart rates vary so much in different animals.

    Heart Walk

    • Using masking tape, draw a large diagram of the heart on the classroom floor. Include the four chambers of the heart, valves, primary arteries and veins, labeling each part. Place arrows on the diagram that illustrate the path that blood follows through the heart. Have each third-grade student act as a drop of blood and walk through the heart, following the flow of blood. Include a discussion of oxygenation of blood. Have students finish by writing a journal entry about a drop of blood traveling through the heart and body.

    Keeping the Heart Healthy

    • Once students understand why the heart is so vital, discuss with students the importance of good nutrition and exercise for keeping the heart healthy. Have students work in groups to create a plan for someone who is at risk for heart disease. Plans should include specific dietary guidelines, an exercise schedule and should address other risks such as not smoking and limiting things like sugar and soda. Students can then present their plans to the rest of their third grade colleagues.

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  • Photo Credit Blue Heart image by netzfrisch.de from Fotolia.com

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