Circulation and Respiration

We have begun our unit on living systems in science (thank GOSH because Earth and Physical science have quite literally killed me this year...seriously, I feel like the most incompetent teacher when I teach science...but I digress...).  Our main focus for the past week before Spring Break was the circulatory and respiratory systems.  I thought I would share some of the things we have been doing, in case some of you are in the same unit yourselves.

To get us started, we watched a few BrainPOP videos about circulation and blood.  I found these in the HEALTH section, not the science section.   The kids were very enthralled with these videos (they ALWAYS are really)  There was quite a lot of information in them, which got us started on the right foot.    Teaching in Room 6
The videos mentioned how the circulatory system was the delivery system of the body and that all systems were connected to this one.  After some discussion, the students created this Circulation Data Disk from the Easy Make & Learn Projects: Human Body (Grades 2-4) (affiliate link) book.   The idea of this circular disk was to show how all of the organs in the body played a very special part in relation to the circulatory system.   I purposefully whited out the info on the disk so that the kids could do the research themselves.  Using our health and science books, the students discovered the role of each organ in circulatory system.

Using a heart model in fifth grade from teaching in room 6

We then used the Easy Make & Learn Projects: Human Body (Grades 2-4) (affiliate link) book and created a model of the heart.  The kids diagrammed the model to up the rigor a bit.  They then placed these in their science journals.

learning about circulation
Another great find (that the kids had a blast playing) was the Circulation Game from Ellen McHenry's homeschooling website This is a free download and I am so glad I found it! It took a while to set up and explain, but once they were going, the kids really were into the game.  They learned quite a bit about how blood travels through the body and how it disposes of waste.  (just a little note, I printed out 5 of these and had each table play.  That way, there weren't as many people playing on one game board)

upper grade blog   4th grade
Finally, the kids watched the School House Rock video, "Do the Circulation". (I have the actual DVD Schoolhouse Rock! (Special 30th Anniversary Edition), (affiliate link) but you can get it on YouTube if the school doesn't block mine does)  I gave them the words and, combining language arts with science, we looked for all of the facts and opinions (as well as figurative language) in the song.  We discussed why the writers would put opinions and figurative language in a song intended to teach us about the Circulatory system.  The students decided that it was because without the opinions and figurative language, the song would be B.O.R.I.N.G!

We also began working on our Body Systems project on Google Drive.  I made a template for each body system and the kids all began filling in the information about the circulatory system.  This worked out perfect here because the kids had so much background knowledge at this point.  They didn't really need to do as much research since we were learning so much as it was!  (click here to get the project for your own class!)
This is a screenshot of the slide before the kids actually did any work.  I forgot to take pictures of them working! 

To explore the respiratory system (a bit further, as we really were talking about it all along with the circulatory system), we first diagrammed the organs involved.  Then, the students did a little experiment to measure their vital lung capacity (how much air can be forcibly taken in and blown out) and the tidal lung capacity (how much is taken in and out during normal breathing).  The kids has SO much fun with this one!  They really were surprised at how much air they *couldn't* blow.  I think they all thought they would pop the balloons in one breath when, in actuality, they hardly inflated them at all!  You can find the exact experiment and printables here.


So there you have it.  Our basic introduction to the systems of the human body.  Up next is the digestive system.  Wish me luck ;)

What experiments have you conducted in your class to teach your students about the circulatory and respiratory systems?

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  1. WOW! Wish this was one of my science units so I could steal ALL these ideas!!! And ummmm ... I think you better rethink that incompetent part - I'm thinking you're pretty fantastic!

    Runde's Room

    1. Thank you! That is very kind...but seriously, I feel so inept at science most of the time. We have a lab and it just seems like everyone else knows what they are doing except for me. Give me 3 years...then it will be GREAT! ;)

  2. You make me want to teach the circulatory system!

    By the way, you have been tagged! Come on over to my blog to check out what to do next!

    The Polka-dotted Teacher

  3. This is great. We do a unit on the human body. Also, I am your newest follower!

  4. Stephanie,
    Thanks so much for sharing your ideas and activities! I finished the Human Body section of science earlier in the year but I'm looking forward to using some of these ideas next year! Like you, I feel I have lots to learn in teaching science. I thought I would return the favor and share a few things that worked well with my students.

    Here is a link to a fabulous rap/hip hop song my students loved connecting the circulatory and respiratory system. I actually caught my students singing it in the halls :)

    You can also check out this video made by one of my grade 5 students explaining her understanding of the circulatory and respiratory system:

    My students also really enjoyed the life sized human body cutout we had on the wall of our classroom (similar to the one you used to play the game on). Each time we tackled a new system, we would put up the parts of that system along with labels and students could practice explaining each part's function, labeling them, and they could visually see the connections between the different systems.

    Good luck with your exploration of the amazing human body!
    Sharon deVries

    1. Thank you so much for sharing these activities! I am always looking for new things to add into my lessons. off to check them out!

  5. I have the same book and have done several of these with my class earlier in the year. I've never played the Circulation Game, and I can't wait to try this next year. Thanks for sharing!


  6. Thanks for sharing some great ideas I can add to my files for next year! I did the same as Sharon...added each system to a life-size cutout as we went...makes a stunning display! :-) Here are a couple of websites we loved using, too! Kids Health is a lot like the BrainPop site; and anything with the title "The Yuckiest Site on the Internet" (the Discovery Kids site) automatically grabs a kid's attention! lol

  7. I'll be teaching K-4 science this year, so I was going through all your science posts to gather ideas for my lesson planning... The K-4 science standards in my state (Texas) don't cover circulation and respiration, so I was scrolling rather quickly through this post...until I saw the heart foldable with the yarn. That project makes me WISH this topic was in my standards! :) I did well in anatomy in high school, but I think it's safe to say your methods of teaching would have helped me do even better. :)

    ~Mrs. K. from The Teacher Garden Blog

  8. We printed out this game and assembled, colored and played it yesterday. fun! thanks!

  9. Looking forward to trying out these activities with my 5th graders. I found this by doing an image search for circulatory systems for kids. It was one of the first images that came up, so I would say the pictures you included are meaningful to the online community. Thank you.

    Dave from Illinois


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