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Mind and Muscle Activities

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Matt Dykstra from Omaha, Nebraska submitted these nice activities for grades 3-6.

Background: We recently tried these two new “mind & muscle” activities with our upper elementary students with great success. The first one deals with anatomy (learning the different bones of the body) and the second one is an inventive way to warm-up your brain and your body!

“DEM BONES”: 4 Ways to Enthuse Your Students to the Bone!

1.) Velcro Bones: Create a large 3-4′ skeleton and place it on a wall. Draw arrows pointing out the bones you will be teaching. At the end of each arrow place a small piece of velcro. Type out the names of the bones in large print on card stock, laminate them and put the other small piece of velcro onto the back of each laminated bone.

Now you are ready to teach the bones! Explain the bone and have the students come up to the skeleton and place it where it belongs. We slowly introduce one bone per class period and add one every time we meet. This is good repetition for the students and we give them the more difficult bones first so that they will have the most repetition with them.

2.) Bone Poems: We have created a poem for each bone for the students to learn. These poems contain the location of the bone, usually a funny story to go with the bone, and a rhyme so they might associate the bone with its more common term. This is usually how I introduce the bones to the kids. They love ‘em!


The mandible likes to munch,
And bite on things that go “crunch.”
It”s your jaw bone as you know.
Eat healthy food to help you grow!

3.) Clothespin Bones: We hang a plastic skeleton from a hook at the front of the gym. As the students come into the gym, I distribute 12-15 clothespins to the students. On one side of the clothespin is the location of the bone and the other side is its anatomical name. Each child with a clothespin raises his hand and gives the location on his pin.

The other students raise their hands if they know the name of the bone. If the answer is correct, the pin holder clips the pin to our skeleton. This game is more successful after a majority of the bones have been learned.

4.) Bone Puzzles: We have made laminated cardstock skeletons for the students to put together. We also use these during relays where the students must put the skeleton together piece by piece (I have also bought a poly skeleton that works wonderfully). The bones are challenging to locate correctly. We have labeled the bones on the bottom side to assist the students who may need some help.

“THE MYSTERY RUN”: An Inventive Way to Warm up the Body and Brain!

Background: This is a simple warm-up activity with a twist. The students complete laps around the gym and solve a sport, history, or fitness “mystery” simultaneously.


  • 3 x 5 index cards
  • Colored markers

How We Do It: Have the students space themselves around the perimeter of the gym. Assign a number of laps they must complete and the locomotor skills they need to use. For example: “Gallop the first two laps and finish up by jogging three laps.”

Following the laps, the students will walk one cool-down lap and then get a card from you. On this card will be (1) a colored dot which represents the group they must work with, (2) their order for reading their clue to the group, and (3) the actual clue. Once the clues are read and the group comes to a consensus as to the answer, one spokesperson raises her hand to signal completion. Allow all of the spokespeople to share their final answer. Examples:

Card #1: Turkey Game
Card #2: Thanksgiving Catch
Card #3: Indians Run
Card #4: Mayflower Swing
Card #5: Plymouth Rock Slide
Answer: Pilgrims Baseball
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