Saturday, August 25, 2012

Kinesthetic Learning at Its Finest

This year the PBA is covering anatomy...not so much in the sense I covered it with my 11yo just a couple days ago in An Open Letter to My Eldest Son but detailed nonetheless.

The first week we listed the different systems within the body and I gave a general overview of each. For the rest of the year, we will talk about one system at a time, taking 2-3 weeks for each so we can be more in-depth.
Over the past couple of weeks we have been studying the skeletal system. We even have Boney Tony who helps us learn the names of some of the bones. Tony has taken up residence on our back door, with his bones labeled by Post-It Notes. Notice the one on the pelvic bone; the PBA decided he needed to be covered up (the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree).

He is a Halloween decoration which is older than I, to the best of my knowledge (although I suppose we could be the same age…regardless, I think I look better than he does). I remember my parents hanging him on our front door when I was a child. Then when I was in college, my roommates and I had him on our front door…for the entire year. We dressed him up in different outfits. Sometimes we even took him off the door and put him on the furniture. Ah, those crazy college days…we were really wild, I swear.

No, that's not me but my roommate Jodi...
who, I'm certain, would be thrilled to know that this photo has been posted on the Web
In addition to using Tony for review, we also “invented” (I use the term loosely because the word seems to carry with it the impression of some high-level thinking… which this did not) our own game to help learn the bone names. It requires tickling one another, so it’s probably not a game which will find its way inside public schools. Basically, you can tickle someone else, but you have to name the bone on that part of the body. (Does that tickle your funny bone? Which, BTW, is at the end of your humerus…) This is hours of entertainment at the PBA, for sure.
Also in the midst of our studies, we talked about the number of bones in an adult body vs. the number in a newborn baby’s body. (BTW, the information I had said an average adult has 208 bones and an a newborn has approximately 350 bones…anyone else think that sounds like a LOT for a baby; I mean, I understand WHY a baby has more but that is considerably more than I had anticipated. Look at me learning new things too.)

I asked the boys if they knew what happened to the “extra bones” in a baby’s body. The 9yo, always quick with an answer but not always a well-thought-out one, assumed that they have them removed. Well, it’s a plausible guess, I suppose, but I did tell him that was incorrect.

In the spirit of the boys’ penchant for kinesthetic learning, I pulled out a plastic model of a skull. I showed them where the bones within it had “grown together”.  Then I explained that newborn babies have a couple “soft spots” on their heads, where the bones haven’t grown together yet. (I did NOT go into why babies would have that…I did have that much filter going for me at this point).

This information about the skull then helped them to figure out why adults have fewer bones than newborns. Ahh…you’ve got to love it when they seem to be developing those critical thinking skills.
And then I mistakenly kept on talking…I went on to say that sometimes you can see a baby’s pulse (depending on vein positioning) in those spots. Seeming to take us wildly off-track, the 9yo said, “Hey, can you have another baby?”

“What?!? You want us to have another baby?  I’m not having another baby! Why are you asking me that?”

“So I can see a baby’s soft spots! Can you have another baby so I can see a baby’s soft spots?”

“You want me to have another baby just so you can see a baby’s soft spots?”
“Yeah. And then I guess we could just keep it after that.”

Perhaps the PBA has gone a little too far into the hands-on learning approach.

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