Introduction to the Circulatory System 

  • to identify the heart as the largest muscle in the body
  • to describe the heart's role in pumping blood to the lungs and to all parts of the body

  • Procedures: 
    Student Information:
    Ask students to identify the strongest muscle of the body. Allow students to give their ideas and then explain that the correct answer is the heart. Show students diagram of the heart and share the background information with them. 
    • The heart works day and night to pump blood through the circulatory system.
    • The heart consists of two pumps.
    • The pump on the right side of the heart sends blood to the lungs where the blood obtains oxygen.
    • The blood which has obtained oxygen then travels back to the heart where it is pumped to all parts of the body.
    Explain that as the blood is pumped through the arteries, you can feel the artery walls stretch and relax. Ask students what this is called. Entertain their ideas and clarify that this is their pulse. Ask how they could measure the pumping of their hearts using the pulse. Students work in groups to brainstorm the possibilities. Allow groups to share and clarify. 

    Have students feel for pulse with their fingers. Guide into discussion of problems that may arise by using the finger to feel pulse.  

    Assessment: Ask students to share personal experiences of having their pulse taken with their groups.  

    Detecting Your Pulse (Science/Math/Language Arts Connection) 

    Objective: to construct a simple apparatus to visually detect the pulse 
  • toothpicks
  • modeling clay

  • Procedures: 
    Student Information:
  • Provide each student with a toothpick and a piece of clay. 
  • Stick the toothpick into a "dime sized" lump of clay. 
  • Have students rest the "counter" on the inside of their wrist just below the base of the thumb. 
  • Have students observe the toothpick as it moves. Let students work in pairs to time the counts in 15 seconds. 
  • Use this information to determine how many beats per minute.  

  • Assessment:
  • Use the information from each student to construct a class graph. 
  • Have students compare and contrast information compiled. 
  • Using this graph, have each student write a journal entry of the information obtained. They should include at least three major points in their summary.  

    Calculating Beats per Minute  (Science/Math/Language Arts Connection) 

    Objective: to describe the relationship between physical activity and heart rate 
    Materials: chart  
    Student Information:
    Provide a chart with the headings "activity" and "beats per minute." Have students identify activities that they perform daily. Each student selects a minimum of three activities to record in the activity column of their chart. With the assistance of a partner students calculate and record "beats per minute" for each activity.  
    Assessment: Students include the chart in their journal. Using the information in the chart, students will record observations about the relationship of physical activity and heart rate. 

    Blood Vessels 

    Objective: to demonstrate with a model the expansion and contraction of blood vessels as blood is pumped through the blood vessels 
    Materials: For each pair of students: 
  • large container of water
  • bulb syringe
  • oblong balloons

  • Procedures: 
    Student Information:
  • Divide students into pairs.
  • One student fills the bulb with water. The other student secures a balloon over the tip. 
  • The first student gently squeezes and releases the bulb so that the balloon repeatedly fills with water. 
  • The partner holds the balloon between the fingers to feel the expansion and contraction. This models expansion and contraction of blood vessels as the heart beats. 
  • Students should then exchange roles to allow each to feel the movement. 

  • Assessment: Students will check to make sure that the partner in the activity successfully completes both roles in the experiment.

    Heart Rates of Adults vs. Children  (Home Connection)  

    Objective: to compare heart rates of adults and children 
    Materials: graph of student heart rates from previous lesson 
    Student Information:
    Home Activity: 
    Have students record "resting" heart rates of at least one adult in the home and bring in these results. 

    Class Activities: 
    1.  Students will compile a graph of "Adult Heart Rates." Begin by making a comparison of adults. Have students determine the highest, lowest, most frequently occurring, and develop an "average range." 

    2.  Return to graph from previous lesson which recorded student resting heart rates. Have students:  

    • compare their own heart rate to that of the adult in their own home
    • compare the student graph to the adult graph in terms of highest, lowest, most frequently occurring, and average range
    • draw conclusions about resting heart rates of adults and children
    3.  Math Connection 
    Students will compute the following: 
    • What is the difference in heart beats per minute of you and the adult in your home?
    • What is the difference in the highest and lowest heart rate of the children on the graph?
    • What is the difference in the highest and lowest heart rate of the adults on the graph?
    Assessment: Students will solve problems related to graph comparisons.  
    Students will record in their journals the conclusions drawn when comparing adult and child heart rates. 

    Researching the Heart 

    Objective: to use research skills to locate answers to relevant questions about the heart 
    Materials: reference materials 
    Student Information:
    Students should have a basic understanding of the function of the heart. With this background, they should now be prepared to formulate related questions that they wish to investigate.  

    1.  Begin the activity by having students identify information that has already been obtained in the unit.  

    2.  From this list, have students brainstorm and formulate possible questions for investigation.  

    3.  Individual students should use this list to select personal questions for investigation. Have students record these questions in a "Research" section of their journals. They should be encouraged to add to this list as other questions arise. This should be an ongoing project.  

    4.  Discuss available resources for exploration and encourage students to use a variety of these. 

    Assessment: The completed research project should include questions investigated, answers to and discussions related to these questions, and resources used in the investigation. 

    Dramatization of the Blood's Trip Through the Heart  (Science/Dramatics Connection)   

    Objective: to describe the blood's trip through the body and the function of the heart 
  • diagram of circulatory system
  • "oxygen" tags
  • "carbon dioxide" tags

  • Procedures: 
    Student Information:
  • Set up a large room sized diagram of the circulatory system. 
  • Students assume the roles of "body organs and parts." This should include heart, lungs, arms, legs, etc. 
  • Other students act as the "blood." As the "blood" travels from the heart to the lungs, students simulating the blood should be given several tags labeled "oxygen." 
  • The "blood" then travels back to the heart and to the other parts of the body. As the "blood" travels to each body part, it exchanges "oxygen tags" for tags labeled "carbon dioxide" and "other wastes." 
  • When the oxygen is used up, the "blood" then must travel back to the heart and lungs to exchange the "carbon dioxide and waste" for new "oxygen." 

  • Assessment: Each student should be able to play the roles of a body part and blood.  
    Students then record journal entries explaining the process and how the activity demonstrated this.  
    NOTE: This activity could also be used as a performance assessment following the material on the circulatory and respiratory systems. 

    The Heart as a Pump  (Science/Social Studies/Technology Connection)   

    Objective: to describe the heart's function as a pump and relate this to other types of pumps 
    Student Information:
    1.  Introduce the idea that the heart is a pump and have students offer their definitions of pump. Clarify and agree on a class definition.  

    2.  Divide students into groups of four or five and ask each group to think of how pumps are used in everyday activities. For each idea the group should provide an illustration of the pump as it is used, explain how it is used, and explain what can be done in case of malfunction. 

    3.  Each group should present their findings and display in a central location.  

    4.  Have students compare and contrast their pumps to the heart. 

    Assessment: Students will each write in their activity journal ways the heart and other pumps are the same. They will address the fact that machine parts can be easily manufactured and replaced and that the heart as a pump is not easily repaired. 

    Heart Health  (Social Studies/Health Connection)   

  • to recognize the need for maintenance of the body's strongest muscle, the heart
  • to identify ways to strengthen and maintain the heart

  • Procedures: 
    Student Information:
    1.  Review the previously learned materials relating to the heart's function and have students consider what might occur if the heart does not function properly.  

    2.  This provides an excellent opportunity to have resource persons come in to discuss heart disease. Ideas include: 

  • health care professionals
  • adults who suffer from heart disease that are willing to share their experiences
  • representative of the American Heart Association
  • 3. Discuss the heart as a muscle and review previously learned information. Ask students to tell what they know about muscles in general. Encourage them to share their knowledge of strengthening activities especially as related to the school physical education program. Students may name individuals that they consider to have "strong muscles" and include a discussion of how these individuals build and maintain these strong muscles. Direct the discussion to a comparison of strong muscles to weak muscles and the work that can be done with each. Help students to transfer this discussion to the focus on the heart.  

    4.  (Research) Students will use a variety of resources to answer the following: 

    • List some activities that contribute to building a stronger heart.
    • How would a weak heart effect the movement of blood through the body?
    • Name some ways a "weak heart" might effect a person's daily activities.

    • Tell how an exercise program for the elderly needs to be different from younger adults.  
    Assessment: Students will name at least two activities that would be difficult if the heart does not function properly. 
    Completed research projects will be assessed on the basis of accuracy and the degree to which the topic is addressed. The project will be included in the student's portfolio.

    Make Your Own Stethoscope   

    Objective: to use a stethoscope to listen to the heart beat 
    Materials: 1 cardboard tube from a paper towel roll per every 2 students  
    Student Information:
    Over 170 years ago, a man named Laennec invented the first stethoscope. It was a wooden tube about 1 inch in diameter and about 10 inches long.  Students will use paper towel roll tubes as stethoscopes.  

    1.  Have the students pair up and listen for their partner's heartbeat by placing the tube over the partner's heart.  

    2.  Count the number of beats per 30 seconds. Add this number together twice to find out how many times each minute the person's heart beats.  

    3.  Have one partner run in place for one minute, then listen again. Have the students write down what they hear and calculate the new beats per minute.  

    4.  Have the partners switch.  

    Assessment: (Follow-up discussion)  The heart beats faster after the exercise in order to pump more blood (oxygen) to the working muscles. 

    Heart Words  (Language Arts Connection)   

    Objective: to define the meaning of terms using the word heart 
  • crayons 
  • 8 x 11 paper folded into four boxes 

  • Procedures: 
    Student Information:
    1. As a class, brainstorm as many "heart" words as possible (i.e.. heart throb, heart attack, heart-to-heart, etc.). Post them on the board. 

    2. Post them on the board, discussing the meanings as you go. 

    3. Students then work individually drawing the meanings of four of those words (one per box). 

    Assessment: the final product of activity 
    Remember to add the heart to your paper bodies!


    Curriculum Home Page
    Henry County Public Schools
    This integrated instructional unit was designed by teachers of the:
    Henry County School System
    396 Tomlinson Street
    McDonough, Georgia 30253
    Telephone:  770/957-6601

     Updated 4/19/98