This page contains information to support educators and families in teaching K-3 students about digestion and the digestive system. The information is designed to complement the BrainPOP Jr. movie Digestive System. It explains the type of content covered in the movie, provides ideas for how teachers and parents can develop related understandings, and suggests how other BrainPOP Jr. resources can be used to scaffold and extend student learning.
Have your children list what they ate today. When did they eat it? What did they drink? Remind them that our bodies need food to get energy and grow strong and healthy. But, how do we turn food into energy? This movie will explore the digestive system and a few of its main parts, including the mouth, esophagus, stomach, and small and large intestines.
Remind your children that the mouth, esophagus, stomach, esophagus, small and large intestines make up the digestive system. Digestion is the process of turning food into a form the body can process and use for energy. Digestion starts at the mouth! Explain to your children that before they even start eating, the digestion process begins. They produce saliva, or spit inside their mouths. Chewing breaks down food while saliva softens it so it can be swallowed. It passes down the throat and through a stretchy tube called the esophagus. Then it enters the stomach. Some children may confuse the esophagus with the windpipe. The windpipe connects to the lungs, but the esophagus connects to the stomach.
Remind your children that an organ is a body part that does a special job. The heart, lungs, brain, and stomach are all organs. The stomach’s job is to store food and break it down. Muscles help churn and mix food and gastric juices are secreted to break the food down into a soupy mixture. Encourage children to touch their stomachs after they eat and feel their stomachs working. They may even want to put their ear up to a friend’s stomach to hear it work.
After the food is broken down, it passes to the small intestine. The small intestine is not small at all. It’s a very, very long tube extending down in tight coils from the stomach. In adults, the small intestine is about 22 feet long! Food is pushed along the small intestine and broken down further. Organs like the pancreas and liver send digestive juices to the small intestine to help break down food into vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients the body can absorb and use. Discuss different nutrients we get from food. For example, dairy products and dark leafy green vegetables are high in calcium, a mineral our bodies use to build strong bones. Protein from nuts, beans, and meat helps build and repair muscles. Inside the small intestines, these foods are broken down into nutrients that are transported through the blood throughout the body.
What is left from the small intestine gets passed into the large intestine, also known as the colon. Here, water and remaining minerals are absorbed and waste is left behind. Waste gets pushed and stored in the rectum and eventually passed through the anus as stool.
Remind your children that the digestive system performs a very important job, so it is important to care for it and eat nutritious foods. Foods that are high in fiber, such as fruits, vegetables, and whole grains make it easier for waste to pass through the body and help “clean” the digestive system. Water is used to produce gastric juices, so it is important for people to drink water when they’re thirsty, and not sugary sodas and juices. Regular exercise also helps things move through the digestive system and also stimulates muscles in the digestive tract. Encourage your children to be more aware of what they eat and drink and make healthy choices when they eat. Invite them to take an active part in their health.