My lungs help my body breathe.  

The upper part of my chest is almost filled with my lungs.  

My lungs are made up of millions of elastic-like sacs which fill up and let out air.  

My lungs can hold about as much air as a basketball!  

Air comes into my body through my nose and mouth. It travels down my trachea (windpipe), through my bronchial tubes, and then into both of my lungs.  

My lungs trade air with my blood. My heart pumps used blood to my lungs. My lungs take the carbon dioxide and other things that my body cannot use out of my blood. After the trading is done, my blood goes back to my heart to work again.  

A big, strong muscle helps make my lungs work. It is called my diaphragm. My diaphragm is under my lungs. It helps push out my lungs when they are filling up with air. My diaphragm also help let my lungs back in to squeeze out the air. So, every time I inhale (breathe air in) and every time I exhale (breathe air out), I know my lungs are working.  

My lungs help my body breathe. They are like balloons filling up with air and letting air out! 


What Makes Air Go In and Out?  

Objective: to describe what makes air go in and out of the lungs 
Student Information: Your lungs do not have muscles. You breathe by changing the size of your chest. The air around you has pressure. It is pushing in on you all of the time. When you make your chest bigger, air comes into your body and fills up your lungs. To breathe out, you make your chest smaller. This pushes the air back out. 
  • 16 or 20 oz. plastic bottle
  • a small lump of clay
  • 1 straw
  • colored water 

  • Procedure: 1. Fill the bottle half way with colored water. Put the straw in it and place the clay over the opening (holding the straw in place coming out of the bottle). 

    2. Tell the children that the straw is like your windpipe; the clay is like your throat; the bottle is like your chest. The movement of the colored water is to represent the movement of air in and out of your lungs. 

    3. Push in on the bottle. This makes the bottle smaller. This is like making your chest smaller. This pushes the water (air) out. 

    4. Stop pushing in on the bottle. This makes the bottle bigger. This is like making your chest bigger. Air pressure pushes the water (air) in. 

    Assessment: Discussion: 
    Put your hands on your chest while you breathe. Can you feel how changing the size of your chest makes the air go in and out?  How is it like the bottle? 

    Measuring Your Lung Capacity   (Math Activity)   

  • to create a physical representation of the amount of air that their lungs can hold at once
  • to define the terms "capacity" and "circumference"
  • to describe the relation between our study of the lungs and their own bodies
  • to compare the lung capacity of different people

  • Materials: 
    Student Information:
    For each pair of students: 
  • string (cut to 24 inches long-- long enough to fit around an inflated balloon)
  • balloons
  • rulers
  • recording sheet with space for several attempts in both "Estimate of Circumference" and "Actual Circumference"

  • Procedures: 1. Divide students into pairs and ask them to think of a way that we could measure the amount of air our lungs can hold. (If they are having trouble, hold up a balloon and let them make the connection.) 

    2. Explain that they will be measuring their lung capacity (amount something can hold) using balloons. To show the size of one person's lung capacity in comparison with another's you will be measuring how big around the balloon gets. 

    3. Demonstrate how to measure the circumference of a balloon that you've blown up with the string and then how you measure the amount of string used with a ruler. (It's best to pick a partner to demonstrate this so that the children understand the role of both people on a team.) 

    4. Go over the recording sheet with them explaining that in each of the 5 tries they will make a guess or estimate first and then actually blow up the balloon with one breath and measure it. Partners will take turns helping the other. 

    5. Take a poll of how many students think that their guesses will get better with every try. 

    6. Discussion: Give each student an opportunity to tell his/her lung capacity. Follow up pre-measuring poll by asking students how close their guesses were in the beginning and how close they were on try #5. 

    Assessment: Students write letters to another class giving directions on how to find your lung capacity. They should include problems they may have had and the solutions they came up with to help! 

    Bulletin Board: Tie off each balloon and tack it to the bulletin board with a label stating the child's name and lung capacity. 


    Musical Breathing   (Music Activity)  

  • to relate their study of the lungs to everyday life
  • to compare "normal" breathing with that required to play a musical instrument

  • Materials: 
  • pictures of wood and brass instruments (French horn, trumpet, tuba, trombone, flute, bassoon, oboe, clarinet, etc.)
  • harmonicas, penny whistles, recorders, and kazoos

  • Procedures: 
    Student Information:
    1.  Display pictures of wood and brass instruments (French horn, trumpet, tuba, trombone, flute, bassoon, oboe, clarinet, etc.).  

    2.  Invite older students to demonstrate how they breathe when playing the instruments.  

    3.  Provide harmonicas, penny whistles, recorders, and kazoos and challenge students to perform a tune. 

    Assessment: Students describe orally what differences they noticed between regular breathing and breathing to play a tune.

    To Breathe or Not to Breathe   (Art and Social Studies Activity)  

    Objective: to identify things that aid or hinder breathing 
  • magazines to cut pictures from
  • glue

  • Procedures: 
    Student Information:
    Have students cut out pictures and ads from magazines to make a scrapbook. Pictures and ads can have anything to do with lungs and oxygen, including cold and cough remedies, air pollution, smoking, and so on. 
    Assessment: Students meet in small groups to compare the things that they found to aid or hinder breathing.  

    Journal Entry: Students propose solutions to the things that they found that hinder breathing. 


    Mystery Riddles   (Language Arts Activity)  

    Objective: to recall knowledge about the heart, lungs, oxygen, blood vessels, carbon dioxide 
    Student Information:
    Have students make up riddles about the heart, lungs, oxygen, blood vessels, carbon dioxide or any other body concept that's been covered. You may wish to provide a model, such as: 
  • I am part of the air. 
  • I enter your lungs when you breathe in. 
  • Your body needs me.
  • What am I? (Oxygen)

  • Assessment: Have students present the riddles to a small group or to the class. Give other students the opportunity to guess and tell why they chose their answer. 

    Aerobics   (Physical Education Activity)  

    Objective: to identify the difference between aerobic and anaerobic exercise 
  • television
  • videocassette recorder
  • aerobics video 

  • Procedures: 
    Student Information:
    1. Talk to the students about how different exercises feel when you do them. Elicit the response that some make you breathe harder than others and make your heart beat faster. Tell them that those exercises are aerobic and those that don't require faster intake of oxygen are anaerobic. 

    2. As a class, brainstorm things that are anaerobic activities. Try some of them as a group. 

    3. Have the students write down how they felt doing those activities. 

    4. Play the aerobics video and follow along as a group. 

    5. Students should write again, this time explaining how they feel different after that type of exercise. 

    Assessment: students' written responses
    Remember to add the lungs to your paper bodies!
    My Body Unit Index
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    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