Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Cardiovascular System Unit Study and Lesson Plan

This unit had a lot of content but very few pictures, for some reason. I do have a few other posts I will put up, but I'll link most of the videos and other content we used here.

Also, we combined a short treatment of the immune system with this unit, since the blood cells play such a big role. We talked about viruses and bacteria, and immune response. We may study that more fully in the future.

First and foremost, I MUST mention this group of videos that the children LOVED. At first they just thought the videos were silly. They kept saying things like, "Hey, the blood cells can't fly in little ships!" "Hey, germs don't say 'heh heh heh'!"—and so forth. But then the children caught the spirit of the thing and began to love the videos with a deep and abiding love. It seems like maybe the episodes are from a British TV program called "Once Upon a Time Life"? I'm not totally sure. There are other episodes that show other parts of the body, but we just focused on the applicable ones to this unit. We got to know and love all the characters quite a bit. The action is kind of slow but it's all part of the charm! As is the music. And the explanations are actually quite good.

Here are the episodes we watched (I'm just linking Part I of each episode, but parts 2 and 3 for each one should come up on the "other videos" menu at the right side of your screen. Or maybe you can just search online for "once upon a time life" and you'll find whole episodes somewhere. Each episode is about 30 minutes long).

Other than these gems, we also liked:
and this (annoying, but understandable) video about blood types

Here are instructions on how to make a simple stethoscope. This totally didn't work for us, but maybe it will for you! Luckily we had this stethoscope of our own and the children enjoyed listening to each others' hearts with it.

Here you can hear the sounds of various heart murmurs. It's amazing that doctors can hear and distinguish these!

Another thing that didn't work for us: this heart pump model with the four soda bottles. Maybe our bottles were too small? Anyway, there's a whole good lesson plan with it, so this page is definitely worth a look.

Another heart pump model we didn't try.

You can make this model of a drop of blood.

This interactive site helps you visualize the size of a red blood cell (among other things)

Of course it's always nice to compare healthy lungs to smokers' lungs:
and here

I've always thought it was fascinating how heart cells can beat all by themselves, and then sync when they get in proximity to one another. You can see a video here.

For a field trip during this unit, I called the Red Cross to see if the children could come watch me donate blood. We set it up during a less-busy time of day, and they were really great to work with me and allow the children to be close by. Our nurse was great—explaining stuff to them, letting them feel my bag of blood, etc. I'm not very squeamish about it and I like donating blood, so I didn't mind. Of course, most of all, the children liked getting pretzels and juice afterwards (the nurse kindly said they could have some, even though THEY weren't the ones who did the donating!). :) You can find a place to donate blood on the Red Cross website.

And here's my Cardiovascular System Unit Pinterest page.


  1. These plans you come up with are so amazing! I don't know how you do it! I wish I was smart enough to do something like this. I'd love to do school this way. My kids hate school and pretty much every subject and that was what I was trying to avoid when doing homeschool. An approach like you have seems like it would be a lot more fun and less drudgery for them. What a blessing for your kids to have parents who can provide such a neat education for them.

    1. Holly, thank you! That was such a nice comment and you totally made me smile. :) And I don't think it's that I'm that SMART, it's just that this is how my brain works and it's how unit planning works best for me! I'm sure you will be able to figure out the best way for you and your kids too! I agree with you that finding a way to capture the fun and joy of learning is a great goal. I feel less and less concerned, as time goes on, about learning certain things in certain years, and more eager just to learn ANYTHING that interests us. It seems like everything turns out to be connected anyway! Math and history and science and religion and all of it. It makes me excited. And I love that homeschool gives us a way to follow those sort of meandering paths of learning wherever they take us!
      Thanks again for leaving such a nice comment. I hope your homeschool planning goes well and that soon your kids can capture that excitement for learning again!


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