This page contains information to support educators and families in teaching K-3 students about muscles. The information is designed to complement the BrainPOP Jr. movie Muscles. 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.
Help children understand how their bodies work and how they can stay healthy and strong. This movie will explore muscles and how they play an active role in everything we do. It will also explain how to build strong and healthy muscles by exercising and maintaining a balanced diet.
Have children move around and feel their muscles working. Encourage them to be creative. They can hop, jump, run in place, do jumping jacks, twist, or dance. Remind them that muscles are the parts of the body that help us move. Many muscles attach to bone and joints and they all work together to move. Muscles are made of a special tissue that can contract and relax. Remind children that when a muscle contracts, it gets shorter or smaller. To help us move, muscles contract and relax, much like an elastic band. There are over six hundred muscles in the human body. Review with children that voluntary muscles are muscles that can be controlled by will. For example, you can control the voluntary muscles in your legs and feet to run and kick. Involuntary muscles are muscles that work automatically, without thought. The involuntary muscles in the digestive tract push food through the body without your having to think about it.
Review major muscles with children. Have them point to the muscles on their body and touch them as they move to feel how the muscles contract and relax. The muscles in the front of the thighs are the quadriceps. Have children place their hands on their quadriceps as they squat down and stand up. Then have them do the same with the muscles in the back of their thighs, the hamstrings. Have children place a hand on their shoulders and move their arm around gently. Remind them that the deltoids are the muscles that go over the shoulder joint. The biceps and triceps are muscles in the upper arm and they help us do everything from lift books to open doors. The pectoral muscles are the ones that go across the chest. What activities or movements would require the pectoral muscles? Have children demonstrate different movements. The abdominal muscles are below the pectoral muscles, around the middle of the body below the chest. Together the abdominal and pectoral muscles help us stand up straight and sit up. You may want to identify other muscles together.
It is important for children to understand that muscles are everywhere, not just in their torsos, arms, and legs. Small muscles in the face help us make facial expressions and share emotions. The tongue and the muscles around the mouth help us talk. Muscles in our neck help us hold our heads up high. There are even muscles around the eyes that help us blink. Blinking is a special activity because it is both voluntary and involuntary.
Review with children that involuntary muscles are those that work without our having to think about it. The heart is a muscle that pumps blood through the entire body and it never stops contracting and relaxing. The muscle is involuntary and we cannot control it by will. Involuntary muscles along our digestive tract push food down and involuntary muscles inside our eyes help us focus and see without thinking about it. There are even tiny involuntary muscles inside our ears that help us hear. Help children understand that it takes a lot of muscles to make our bodies work!
Emphasize the importance of staying healthy and strong. Regular exercise helps build strong and healthy muscles. For the most part, the more you use a muscle, the stronger it gets. Cardiovascular exercise such as running, jump-roping, dancing, and swimming build strong muscles and help the heart stay healthy. Even lifting light weights can promote strong muscles. It is important to note that children should not lift heavy weights since that can harm and strain their growing bodies. A well-balanced diet is also a key to building strong muscles. Foods high in protein, such as lean meats, fish, tofu, nuts, and dairy products help the body grow and repair muscle. Fruits and vegetables contain energy that muscles use to function.
Help children lead healthy lives. Encourage them to make healthy choices and to care for their bodies. Exercising just a little everyday can promote well-being and instill good habits that children can carry well into adulthood.