Teacher Name: Teri Vestal, Greenwood I.S.D.

Grade Level: Elementary/Intermediate

My Unit Plan: Science

Title: Digesting Digestion!

Grade Level: 4th-5th grade

Overview: As the basics of human digestion are revealed through fun learning opportunities, the mystery of what goes on inside us doesn't seem so mysterious! Understanding how internal organs work can prompt students to appreciate how magnificently their own bodies are made and how important it is to take care of them through proper nutrition and exercise.

Assessment: Ask students draw a diagram and label the digestive system.

My Best Lesson(s) for This Unit

Lesson Plan Title: Stomach This!

Grade Level: 4th-5th

Duration: 30-45 minutes

Student Goal: The student will demonstrate knowledge about the structure of the digestive system, its functions, and the capacity of food and liquid that the stomach can hold.

Student Objectives: The student will learn the functions of the digestive system through participation in a group experiment.

List Materials: Two-1 liter plastic soda bottles; extra large balloon; water; duct tape; Science: Health Science (PDF) -- a content sample from the Scholastic Science Notebook by Mead, available early summer 2004 in the Teacher Store.

Set Up and Prepare: Using the printable reference page, familiarize students with the digestive system by tracing the path food travels through the mouth, esophagus, stomach, small intestine, and large intestine. Share these basic facts about the digestive system:

  • Food moves through the mouth, down the esophagus, and into the stomach.
  • The stomach churns food into liquid.
  • Digestive juices in the small intestine break food into nutrients.
  • Most nutrients are absorbed in the small intestine.
  • Other undigested foods move into large intestine where more liquid is absorbed.
  • Solid waste leaves the body after passing through large intestine.
  • The small intestine is about 23 ft. long; the large intestine is about 5 ft. long

Directions: Prepare students to learn about the capacity of the stomach in this fun experiment by first sharing that the average adult stomach can hold about 1 Liter, about the same size as the extra large balloon.

PART I: Introduce the term: capacity (the ability to hold something, or a measure of content)

Step 1: Fill up a 1 Liter plastic soda container with water.

Step 2: Stretch the end of the balloon over the bottle end and secure with duct tape.

Step 3: Turn slowly and allow the water to fill the balloon. Remind students that the filled balloon would represent a stomach after a hearty meal. Now let's take it one more step.

 Step 4: Prepare the second balloon. Have both liter bottles full of water. Slowly fill the second balloon with more than 1 Liter of water. Help student observe that, just like the balloon, the stomach can expand its capacity to hold more food and liquid. This might represent a miserably full stomach. Have students think about what kind of stress chronic overeating could put on a digestive system.

Assess Students: Provide students an opportunity to label a graph of the digestive system.

Lesson Extension: Learn more about the actual size of the digestive system by cutting yarn into these measurements: esophagus- 25 cm; stomach- 25 cm; small intestine- 7 m; large intestine- 1.5 m. Trace around one student's body shape. Then have groups take turns gluing the yarn organs in place by looking at the printable reference page.

Evaluate Lesson: Have students individually describe the path food takes in the digestive system and what functions the digestive system performs.


Good health habits like eating a proper diet, taking time to exercise, and getting a good night's rest all play an important role in everyday life, especially when it comes to performing mental and physical tasks at home and school. Encourage students to explore more facts about their bodies and other areas of science by referencing the Scholastic Science Notebook by Mead (color-coded green). Students can practice "the basics" of keeping their body fit by using the following simple checklist:

"The Basics": Checklist for a Healthy Body:

_____ Ease out of bed and slowly stretch your sleepy muscles.
_____ Eat a good breakfast to refuel your cells after a long night's rest.
_____ Brush your teeth for a sparkling smile.
_____ Don't forget your vitamins!
_____ Throw a piece of fruit, nuts, cheese, or food bar into backpack for a healthy mid-morning snack.

_____ Eat a healthy lunch and remember to stay away from junk food like chips, sodas, and candy!
_____ Brush your teeth after lunch.
_____ Enjoy a moment of quiet reading time or just relaxing.
_____ When you need a boost of energy in the afternoon, get some exercise to stimulate the brain.

_____ After homework is completed, use extra time to exercise your body with activities outside or work out your brain by playing games that promote mental fitness.

Eat a well-balanced meal, but not too late as this may keep your body from being able to relax enough to go to sleep at bedtime.

_____ Take a bath, brush your teeth, and get prepared for a good night's rest. Activities like reading, listening to music can often help relax the mind and body before sleep. Be sure to stay away from sweets, and television shows or movies that might keep you awake past bedtime.


Some of the resources on this page are in PDF format. To download them, you will need Adobe Acrobat Reader Software.

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