Valentine hearts are everywhere during the month of February and oftentimes young students associate this shape with the hearts in their bodies. For this reason, I like to teach them about the human heart and heart health in February which is also Heart Health Month.
I start by showing the students a picture of a human heart and ask if it looks the same as a valentine heart. We discuss and list the similarities and differences.
I have them place their hand over their heart so they understand where their heart is located in their body. I then have the students make a fist and explain that is the approximate size of their heart. We discuss that the heart’s job is to pump blood to the rest of the body and that it never stops pumping, not even when we are sleeping. It pumps fresh blood and oxygen out through the arteries and brings old blood back for more oxygen and nutrients through the veins.
I show them charts and pictures to help them visualize this concept and then they make their own. I give them a simple body outline with a heart and they draw veins and arteries going to all parts of the body.
To demonstrate how hard their heart works, I have the students open and close their fists without stopping for 2 minutes. I then ask if their hands got a little tired and if they wanted to take a break. We discuss that their heart can never stop working or take a break. It has to continually pump blood to the rest of the body.
We also discuss how to keep our hearts healthy. I explain that too much fat is bad for our heart so we have to exercise to burn off fat. We feel our heartbeats while we are sitting, then we do some exercises with GoNoodle or just hop and jump around for a while and check our heartbeats again. I explain that just like we have to exercise to strengthen other parts of our bodies, we have to exercise to strengthen our heart muscle too so that it can work better and be able to pump blood throughout our bodies more efficiently.
I then ask students if they know of any other ways that we can limit fat in our bodies. We discuss eating healthy foods, what foods are “heart smart”, the MyPlate guidelines. We then create collages of heart healthy foods using Pic Collage.
There are some cute songs about heart health here.
Hear Your Heart by Paul Showers
A simple introduction to how your heart works and how to keep it healthy. Also includes activities for measuring heart rate, exercising the heart, and making a stethoscope.
Henry’s Heart: A Boy, His Heart, and a New Best Friend by Charise Mericle Harper
This is a cute book that combines facts about Henry’s heart with a story.
The Heart: All About Our Circulatory System and More by Seymour Simon
The reading level of this book is above kindergarten, however there are good illustrations that the students enjoy and also some helpful information.
My Heart is Like a Zoo by Michael Hall
This book describes the feeling our hearts can have using animals (each animal is made from hearts).
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