All kids need to learn how their bodies work and how to take care of them. Perhaps no part is more important than the heart and circulatory system. Use these hands-on circulatory system activities to teach anatomy or during American Heart Month every February. They’ll help kids learn how important it is to take care of their one and only heart!
1. Reveal the circulatory system
This is such a cool way to introduce the circulatory system to kids! Make DIY invisible ink using supplies from your kitchen and draw a model of the system. Then, let kids reveal it like magic, helping them envision what lies beneath their skin.
Learn more: Taming Little Monsters
2. Mold a Play-Doh circulatory system
Draw an outline of the human body, then grab some red and blue Play-Doh to make arteries, veins, and the heart itself.
Learn more: The Pinay Homeschooler
3. Watch a kid-friendly circulatory system video
YouTube has lots of videos that can help kids understand their hearts, blood vessels, and more. We like this one from TED-Ed, which has free accompanying teacher materials.
4. Read a heart-healthy book
Check the library or buy one of these smart books for pre-K and elementary-age kids:
- The Heart by Seymour Simon (K-4)
- The Big Red Heart by Z.B. Tucker (K-5)
- Heart Your Heart by Paul Showers (Pre-K to Gr. 2)
- A Drop of Blood by Paul Showers (K-3)
5. Make a heart house
This cute printable compares the chambers of the heart to the rooms of a house. It’s an analogy little minds will easily understand.
Learn more: Spell Out Loud
6. Play the Circulatory System Game
This free printable PDF game from Ellen McHenry is one of the most popular circulatory system activities around. Create a life-sized body model, and spin your way around the system!
Learn more: The Fantastic Five
7. Turn a plastic bag into an inflatable heart
Make a simple heart model from a plastic bag, and use the straws to breathe into it and make it “beat” in rhythm.
Learn more: Kids Activities
8. Scoop water, and try to beat the clock
The heart pumps about 1.3 gallons of blood per minute. Think you can keep up? Fill a container with water, then set a timer. Use a small cup to scoop water into another container as fast as you can. Can you beat your own heart?
Learn more: Primary Theme Park
9. Craft a simple stethoscope
Kids know that doctors use stethoscopes to listen to their hearts. Make a simple version from a cardboard tube and plastic funnel so kids can try it on their own.
Learn more: Science Sparks
10. See your pulse using a marshmallow
Now that they’ve heard their heart, try this idea to see it in action. Push a toothpick into a marshmallow and set it on your upturned wrist. Hold very still and you should see the toothpick bounce up and down along with your pulse!
Learn more: SA ParksandRec/YouTube
11. Build a functioning heart pump
Now it’s time to learn how the heart does its job. Use plastic bottles and drinking straws to make a working model that actually pumps “blood” from one chamber to the next.
Learn more: STEAM Powered Family
12. Tie yarn to learn about veins and arteries
The heart works with the veins, arteries, and capillaries to move blood around the body. Tie different colors of yarn together to represent the three and see how they all function together.
Learn more: The Fantastic Five
13. Engineer a complete circulatory system
Put it all together with this functioning circulatory system model. Get step-by-step instructions at the link.
Learn more: Do Science
14. Fill a bottle with a blood model
Take a closer look at blood and learn about the different types of cells, platelets, and the plasma that they all float around in. Use your favorite candies to represent each in this easy model.
Learn more: My Joy-Filled Life
15. Explore different blood types with food coloring
Learning about blood types? This clever experiment with food coloring helps kids learn which types are compatible with each other. If the dyes stay the same color when mixed, the types are compatible. If they change color, then they’re not.
Learn more: Our Journey Westward
16. Test your blood type knowledge
In this interactive online game, kids “draw blood” from a patient, then run tests to find the blood type and perform a lifesaving transfusion. You can take a tutorial first to learn how it all works.
Learn more: The Blood Typing Game
17. Hold a stuffed animal “blood drive”
This might be the cutest of all the circulatory system activities! Gather up some stuffies, assign them “blood types,” then hold a blood drive! Kids learn about blood types and the importance of being willing to donate blood.
Learn more: Highhill Education
18. Learn about the danger of narrowed veins and arteries
We talk a lot about “healthy foods,” but what makes some foods bad for your heart? Learn about cholesterol and its effects on veins and arteries with this effective demo.
Learn more: Teach Engineering
19. Exercise to keep your heart healthy
A healthy heart needs exercise too. Create a tic-tac-toe board with the free printables at the link, then toss a bean bag (bonus points for making heart-shaped ones!) to see which exercise you’ll do next.
Learn more: Make and Takes
20. Host a Jump Rope for Heart event
The American Heart Association created Jump Rope for Heart and Hoops for Heart to raise awareness of the importance of heart health for kids. Students have a chance to earn money to support cardiovascular research too.
Learn more: The PE Specialist
21. Label and fill in a heart anatomy coloring page
Teacherplanet.com has many coloring sheets that include opportunities for students to label each part of the heart and the respiratory system. Give your students some crayons or markers and let their creativity flow while simultaneously teaching them the parts of the heart.
Learn more: Teacherplanet.com
22. Watch a Bill Nye video about blood and circulation
What better way to engage your students than by turning on Bill Nye the Science Guy?! This video is very efficient in explaining the heart, delivered by a character students will recognize and love.
23. Make a heart and circulatory system poster
Separate your students into groups and give them 30 minutes to create as accurate of a poster about the circulatory system as they can. Hang up the posters and keep them up while you finish your lesson plan, so your students can have a physical reference throughout the day.
Learn more: Homeschool Den
24. Play the Circulation Game
This game teaches students about circulation, including the “map” of the circulatory system in and out of the lungs. Ellenjmchenry.com has detailed instructions on how to set up this engaging game involving small teams, perfect for the classroom.
Learn more: Ellenjmchenry.com
Love these circulatory system activities? Check out 31 Interactive Ways To Teach Kids the Anatomy of the Human Body.
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