Listen to your Heart

Resource Info

Basic Information

The human heart is only about the size of one’s fist. Small as it may seem, it is one of the strongest muscles in the body and performs the important function of pumping blood to all parts of the body. As a critical organ in the human body, it is necessary that we learn about the heart. 

Lesson plan Details

Duration: 
02 hours 00 mins
Introduction: 

In introducing the heart as a part of the body, children are often told that this is the organ that pumps blood to the rest of the body, but there is hardly ever a practical demonstration of how the heart works. This article gives practical suggestions on how a lesson on the heart can be made memorable. 

Objective: 
  • To examine the basic functions of a human heart.
  • To understand its workings through fun activities.
  • To instill curiosity and a scientific spirit in children.
Steps: 

Listen to your heart

While on the topic of the human body, children learn that the heart is a pump that pushes the blood around the body. The blood is carried around the body in tubes or pipes, and is returned to the body in the same way. The tubes or pipes that carry blood from the heart to other parts of the body are called arteries, while those that bring the blood back are called veins. Children may be told that the heart is made up of muscles that are very strong, and can therefore even push blood upwards, against gravity, into our heads. But this learning is usually limited to the mind, without corresponding practical learning. Rarely do children get to actually ‘see’ how this system works.

Any teaching is always reinforced when practical activity is involved. In teaching about the heart, one can take up different activities as outlined below. It might be a good idea to take the children into a quiet area of the school or into the garden for this lesson.

Step 1: Demonstrating a heart beat

Materials required:

  • A few balloons, including some long tubular ones
  • A few short tubes or pipes
  • String
  •  A tub of water

One simple way of showing how the heart pumps blood is to use balloons. Fill a balloon with water. At the mouth of the balloon, attach the tube using a string, such that no water can leak out. To the other end of the tube, attach a tubular balloon. Now squeeze out water from the balloon to show how the water moves from the first balloon to the second.

Note for the teacher: While demonstrating the above experiment, tell the children that the heart first fills itself with blood, which is when it expands, and then squeezes the blood out when it contracts. This is what results in heartbeats.

Direct the children’s attention to the tubular balloon. How does the water in this balloon move when the first balloon is squeezed? It moves because of the force that is applied on the first balloon, causing the water to be pushed into the second balloon, thereby expanding its size! When there is no more space to move, the end of the balloon swells in size. With an artery, this does not happen because the blood is pushed into the veins and it goes back to the heart.

 

  • Give children the materials mentioned above and get them to do this activity on their own.

This will help them correlate the movement of the blood (water) with the muscular force they apply. Tell them that the heart too is a muscle, and can apply force. It applies force on itself, pushing out the blood into the arteries. This forms a pulse.

Let each child put his/her ear to his/her neighbour’s chest. Ask the children to move their ears around until they can hear noises. Then ask them:

Where can they heart the loudest noises?

  • What is the sound like? Can they describe it in words (e.g., is it a ‘lub-dub’ or a ‘pit-pat’)? This happens because the heart exerts force and rests alternately. Can they reproduce the sound by tapping on their desks? Can they tap on the floor with the beat of the pulse?
  • Where do they think the heart is?

Step 2: Checking your pulse

Tell the children that every heartbeat causes a pulse and the heart beats about 70 times in a minute when they are resting. However, when they are running, or exercising, the heartbeat or pulse rate increases. A few minutes of rest brings the pulse rate down to normal again. The pulse can be easily felt in some parts of the body, especially the neck and the wrist. The pulse can sometimes also be felt in the temples, especially after strenuous activity.

 

Note for the teacher: To feel their pulse, let the children press two fingers on the inside of their wrists just as doctors do when we visit them for a checkup.

Point out that water moves in the form of waves or ripples, making the area in front of it swell as it moves. This swelling can be felt as a pulse in arteries that are close under the skin. Demonstrate how the pulse can be found in the wrist. You could get the children to try this activity out for themselves. Then working in pairs again, ask the children to find the pulse in their partners’ wrists, using their fingers. What does it feel like?

 

 

Try out the following activities as well. You will need a wall clock with a seconds hand for some of them.

How many times does your partner’s pulse beat in one minute when he/she is sitting quietly? Ask the children to jump up and down for a couple of minutes. Get them to check the partner’s pulse again.

  • How many times does the pulse beat in one minute now?
  • What happens to the pulse rate when we exercise?

 

Other activities

Making the children work in pairs, try out the following activities.

  1. Ask the children to guess what will happen to the pulse rate when we rest after exercising. Get them to rest quietly for a few minutes after exercising and get them to check the pulse rate again. What has happened to the pulse rate now?

  2. You can ask the children to observe what else happens when they exercise. Can they feel their own hearts beating faster after the exercise? Why?

  1. Get a few toy stethoscopes to class. Let the children play doctor and listen to other children’s heartbeats.

  2. Ask them to try to listen to the heartbeats and check the pulse of family members.

Note for the teacher: Talk to the students about hibernation. Tell the children about animals that hibernate, bears for example. When animals hibernate, their pulse rates slow down to quite an extent. There are also animals whose hearts beat very fast. For example, a squirrel’s heart beats 200 times a minute!

This article first appeared in Teacher Plus, Issue No.77, March-April 2002 and has been adapted here with changes. Some of the information and activities in this article were taken from David Palmer, Switched-on Science, Level 2.

Comments

mehraks27's picture

This article really demonstrate the working of heart instead of tradition way to teaching.
Nice ........

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