We began, of course, by reviewing the previous lesson, The Muscular System. I also purchased a few turkey necks from the grocery story and showed them to the students raw (with the muscular system still on them). Then we boiled them during the course of the school day and took the cooked meat off of them in the afternoon so that we could see and feel the vertebrae clearly. I find it is almost impossible for students to picture exactly how a vertebra has a hole in it and how the entire series has the same hole so that they line up on top of one another and the spinal cord goes down the middle if they don't see it for themselves. We pulled the spinal cord out of each vertebra as we separated them, and looked at it up close. Fascinating!
One of the turkey necks was particularly interesting because part of a soft white tube was left attached to the neck. We were trying to decide whether it was the air tube (trachea) or food tube (esophagus). Since it didn't appear to be lined with muscles, we decided it must be the trachea. We know that it is smooth muscle tissue along the walls of the esophagus that moves food down to the stomach through peristalsis, whereas the lungs inhale and exhale because of the diaphragm muscle and this is located way down at the bottom of the chest cavity.
By the way, if you want to actually make a dinner out of the turkey necks instead of just boiling them, try this Smoked Turkey-Lentil Soup.
Last time I taught this block I used the suggestion in Thomas Wildgruber's book Painting and Drawing in Waldorf Schools: Classes 1 to 8 for for modeling (out of clay) and drawing (with pencil) the vertebrae. It was really difficult and I would NOT recommend this for any child under grade 8!
Wildgruber himself notes that "Vertebrae are very complex forms. To practice spatial perception of them, first in three and then in two dimensions, is a demanding task, and requires previous experience in the 'modeling' aspect of black and white drawing (see Chapter for Class Six)."
Students completed their summaries and illustrations for their main lesson books.
Day One Story & Exploration
I took my story for The Integumentary System from Linda Allison's book, Blood and Guts: A Working Guide to Your Own Insides.
The chapter is called "Skin: The Bag You Live In." I required that the older students take notes during the lesson.
We began by reading pages 11 (Climate Control) and 12. We did the Quick Cool activity on page 12. Then we read page 13 (It's Not the Heat -- It's the Humidity).
Next we read pages 14 (Skin Deep), 15 (Cleavage Lines, Birthday Suit), 16 (Keeping in Touch), and 17 (... Like the Back of Your Hand).
We read pages 18 (Special Events, Hair) and 19 (Developing Hairlessness, Color, Flesh?) and I explained to my students that Crayola used have a crayon color called "Flesh" which was a light pink-tan. Now, of course, this is considered wildly inappropriate (although I notice that Magic Cabin still has a color like this in their pure wool felt collection) and there are special collections of skin tone colored pencils so that you can get the shade just right. We have the one from Prismacolor, which is called their Portrait Set.
We finished by reading page 20 (Hairy Facts, Nails).
Day Two Review & Exploration
We reviewed the parts and function of the muscular system by looking at the nomenclature three-part cards from ETC Montessori. I laid out and matched the pictures and definitions, and passed out the vocabulary cards to the group. As I showed each picture and read each definition, the child who had that vocabulary term came forward.
I saved some of the activities for the Skin for the next system (The Immune System), since our skin can also be seen as part of that system as well.
Main Lesson Book
Students began to draft their summaries and illustrations for The Integumentary System.
This post contains affiliate links to the materials I actually use for homeschooling. I hope you find them helpful. Thank you for your support!