The human body

The human body is a wide-ranging, interesting topic which can be used to teach not only language skills, but also has cross-curricular links which can be exploited in class.

On the LearnEnglish Kids website you can find a variety of materials relating to the human body, covering basic vocabulary teaching, monsters and skeletons, illnesses and amazing facts about the human body. http://www.britishcouncil.org/kids-topics-human-body.htm

On this page you will find ideas and suggestions for exploiting these activities in the classroom.

Introducing the topic
Parts of the body are fairly easy to teach in class by pointing at the relevant part of the body, but you will find flashcards for all the basic body vocabulary which can be used for presenting and practising vocabulary. Use the flashcards and wordcards for matching activities, guessing games, memory games or simple spelling activities. If you have the song ‘Heads, shoulders, knees and toes' you could distribute the flashcards to different students and have them hold up the correct flashcard as they listen to and sing the song before doing the actions themselves.

Easy activities for very young learners
Activities which are marked with one star only or designated ‘Little Kids' are suitable for very young learners just beginning to learn English. There are two activities based on a clown's face which are very suitable for this level: Labelling the clown's face http://www.britishcouncil.org/kids-games-labelling-clown.htm and the Paint it activity where children listen and read then choose the correct colour for the part of the clown's face.

These two activities could provide impetus for a lesson on clown faces. You could ask children to draw their own clown faces and label them in English, or colour in a clown's face from a teacher's ‘colour dictation'. Follow up work could involve writing a few sentences about the clown's face. E.g. His nose is red. He's got green ears. You could ask the children to think of a fun name for their clown.

Another good activity for very young learners is the ‘Scary Skeleton' song. This is a nice catchy tune with repetitive structures and includes only basic body vocabulary. There are several follow-up activities to exploit the song, including a worksheet to label the skeleton britishcouncil.org/kids-print-skeleton.pdf, a further worksheet labelling an animal skeleton and playing a game making a skeleton by collecting body parts using dice (a kind of Beetle game). britishcouncil.org/kids-songs-scary-skeleton-activity.pdf.

If you feel really ambitious or have time at the end of term you could ask your students to make a skeleton using the cut out worksheet. http://www.britishcouncil.org/kids-print-make-a-skeleton.pdf. You will need to provide card and paper fasteners for this activity. Alternatively you could set this as a homework activity.

Finally for very young learners you could play the Monster game, where children can build their own monster, do a listening activity and have fun with animating it, making it dance, sing or explode! http://www.britishcouncil.org/kids-games-make-a-monster.htm

This activity concentrates on colours and basic parts of the body. Children can print their own monsters, or if you don't have this facility in the classroom, ask them to draw their own monster. They could label the parts in English e.g. a green body, red eyes, or you could ask them to write basic sentences such as My monster has got a green body etc. Provide a framework by writing up an example on the board.

Extending the topic - further vocabulary and reading
If your students are at a slightly higher level you may wish to extend the topic. You could introduce the vocabulary of illness using the visuals on the simple worksheet ‘What's wrong?' britishcouncil.org/kids-print-whats-wrong.pdf.

Exploit the visuals further by asking individuals or pairs of students to act out one of the illnesses for the other students to guess.  This worksheet can also be used as a warmer and lead-in to the story ‘I'm too ill!' as a useful tool for pre-teaching vocabulary.

The story http://www.britishcouncil.org/kids-stories-too-ill.htm contains repetitive structures and is therefore suitable for lower levels. You could follow up on the mime game above by asking children to act out the story after they have listened to and read the flash version. There is a simple follow-up worksheet containing a re-ordering exercise if you wish to consolidate reading.

Reading skills can also be developed using the quiz sheets available to download. The simplest of these is the Human Body Quiz. britishcouncil.org/kids-print-body-quiz.pdf

The Multiple choice quiz questions could be prepared in pairs, groups or teams and points awarded for the correct answers during feedback. Adding a competitive element is highly motivating. You will need to explain more difficult vocabulary such as parts of the eyes and internal parts of the body. Use the visuals on the worksheet to help you explain these to students. If you feel ambitious you could try the ‘Brain quiz' or ‘The Senses'.

Cross-curricular links
The topic of the human body overlaps into other curriculum areas such as Health Education or PSE (Personal and Social Education). If you wish you could use the content of the worksheets on looking after yourself in this kind of lesson. For example, ‘Looking after your body' http://www.britishcouncil.org/kids-print-health-quiz.pdf asks students to make a healthy pizza using vegetables in a fun way. You could ask your students to design their own pizza recipes for a wall display or even make a healthy pizza at home!

Use the fitness quiz as a mingle and then develop it into a class survey. Show the results in a diagram on the board or on the wall of your classroom to see how fit and healthy your class is.

Extension activities
If you have time you could photocopy and enlarge the skeleton template and make a larger version for use in the classroom. You could use this not only to teach parts of the body but as the basis for fun dialogues, oral work, scary stories etc. Children will have a lot of fun thinking of a name for the skeleton!

Sue Clarke

When you have used some of these ideas, why not come back to this page and leave a comment below to tell us how your class went. Let us know too if you have any additional ideas!


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