Category: Human Biology

More About The Human Body: Digestive System

Next up for our look at human bodies and bodily functions inspired by The Human Body book post, let’s explore the digestive system.

We all need to eat, both to supply energy, and to support growth and maintenance of our bodies. For example, we should eat foods that contain calcium to keep our bones strong. But how does the meal we eat become the building blocks and fuel for our bodies?

The process is called digestion.

Digestive System

You probably already know that certain organs are involved in digestion, like the mouth and stomach. Human biologists group related organs together into what are called “organ systems.” Many of the organs involved in digestion are shown in this illustration.

(Public domain illustration from Wikimedia)

The process all starts with your body sending and receiving signals that you are hungry. Once you begin to eat something, say the piece of pizza above, the food passes into your mouth. The teeth break down the bigger pieces into bits while you chew and at the same time glands make saliva, which starts to change pizza chemically.

The tongue helps you swallow the food. As you swallow, the food passes down the esophagus into the stomach. The stomach is like a big bag that is filled with acids and enzymes that dissolve the food, making it into smaller and smaller units.

Once it has been processed to a certain point, the digested food moves into the small intestine (which starts at the duodenum in the illustration). The pancreas and liver, plus the gallbladder help produce the chemicals that regulate digestion. Inside the small intestine, food finishes changing into tiny enough molecules that they can be absorbed into the blood stream and be carried to the cells where they will be used. The walls of the small intestine are covered with special tiny fingers called “villi.” The villi are really good at moving materials to where they need to go.

Anything that hasn’t been digested becomes waste. The waste moves into the large intestine, which consists of the caecum, colon, and rectum. Any excess water is removed and final processing occurs with the help of bacteria. From there the waste exits the body when you go to the bathroom.

This classic video from Kids Health presents it in a slightly different way.

Where is this series going? Check tomorrow’s post for the answer.



See Teach with Fergy for a way to demonstrate digestion using a plastic baggie and bread. A bit gross, but reinforces the different steps in the process in a memorable way.

For a picture book that gives a good introduction, try The Magic School Bus Inside the Human Body

(Amazon Affiliate Link)

Bug of the Week: Insect Anatomy Versus Human

Yesterday we talked a bit about about the human skeleton. Now let’s compare it to an insect skeleton.

Insect and other arthropods have their supporting structure on the outside of their bodies. The outside skeleton is called an “exoskeleton.” It has the same function as the vertebrate internal skeleton, that is protecting the internal organs and allowing for movement. The biggest difference is that the exoskeleton doesn’t grow and must be shed or molted for an insect to increase in size.

When you first look at an insect anatomy diagram, it might seem like the vocabulary is unusual.

It turns out, however many of the parts are named the same as in humans.

For example, the name of the segments of the insect’s legs correspond to the names of the bones in the human legs. The big bone in the thigh is the femur, the bone below the knee is the tibia, and the bones in the feet are called the tarsals and metatarsals.

A doctor of thoracic medicine specializes in the chest, particularly the lungs. A doctor might ask if you have a pain in the lower left abdomen.

The human jawbone is called a mandible, and insects with biting mouthparts have mandibles.

Insects have a membrane that helps them detect sounds called a tympanum. Humans have a tympanic membrane in the ear that helps with hearing.

Learning the vocabulary is easier once you see the similarities.

Can you find your femur? Can you see the large, jumping femur of this grasshopper?

Summer Science Fun: The Human Body

This week we’re going to explore the body and bodily functions. Today let’s take a look at the activity set, Adventures in Science: The Human Body by Courtney Acampora that helps children learn about our cells, bones, organs, and systems.


Kids looking for something to do for summer? This hands-on activity set contains a 40-page paperback book that introduces children to the human body, a 12-inch tall model skeleton to assemble, a double-sided poster with stickers to apply (bones to one side and organs to the other), plus 20 fact cards to play with.

Learning about the human body is important not just for budding health care professionals, but for everyone’s health and well being.

Let’s take a look at the human skeleton.

The pieces come in a plastic bag, which can be conveniently emptied into the box the set comes in. There is also a plastic stand.

Note:  Assembly of the skeleton does require fine motor skills. Younger children might find the stickers easier to use.

The instructions are on page 40 in the book, and consist of a photograph of the pieces with arrows to show how they fit together.

While assembling, you can name the different bones

and mention that the skeleton provides an internal framework that 1. allows for movement (for example, leg bones) and

2. protects organs, like the skull protects the brain.

What better way to learn the human skeleton than assembling a model?

The Human Body is sure to provide hours of learning fun and is something kids will return to again and again.

Related Activity Suggestions:

Age Range: 6 and up
Publisher: Silver Dolphin Books; Box Pck St edition (December 12, 2017)
ISBN-10: 1684121299
ISBN-13: 978-1684121298

Disclosure: This book was provided by the publisher’s representative for review purposes. Also, I am an affiliate with Amazon so I can provide you with cover images and links to more information about books and products. As you probably are aware, if you click through the highlighted title link and purchase a product, I will receive a very small commission, at no extra cost to you. Any proceeds help defray the costs of hosting and maintaining this website.