Children are captivated by the “gross factor” when it comes to learning about the digestive system! Embrace this natural curiosity provide them with creative activities that demonstrate the process of our digestive anatomy.
• Demonstrate how the digestive juices in our stomach break down food. To represent the stomach, give each student a baggie that can zip completely shut. Put a few small pieces of bread into the baggie and add a little orange juice or soda to signify the digestive juices. Seal the baggie completely and gently squeeze the bag for two minutes. Observe the changes in the bread – it gradually turns into liquid and is ready to be absorbed into the small intestine and blood stream.
• The average length of the small intestine in an adult male is about 22 feet! Use clay to replicate the small intestines. Provide each child with a chunk of clay. Instruct the class to roll the clay like a “snake,” as long as possible until it is about one inch in diameter. Attach each section together to get a visual idea of how long our small intestine is.
• Have your students write a journal entry about their journey through the digestive system as a piece of food. Each child can choose what type of food they want to be and may illustrate the description.
Learning about how the digestive system works is a great way to move into teaching basic nutrition concepts. Explain how wholesome diets prevent discomfort in our bodies and teach easy ways to replace junk food with healthier options.