Skeleton Exploration Project

This week we’re heading back into the land of art projects to explore our bodies, or more specifically how our bones create our skeletons. You may already be familiar with this project, but I wanted to highlight it because it’s a great way to start the conversation about bones and x-rays. In addition, we’ll be having double the fun as I feature 2 different ways you can try this activity. Check them out and see which one you like!

When I do this activity, I always begin by asking if participants know what bones are. We talk about how bones give shape and support. I found the app by Tinybop called “The Human Body” lets users take all the bones out of the body and then the body falls down! It was a great way to demonstrate the importance of bones. If I can, I’ll bring out some x-ray pictures and discuss what part of the body is shown, what do the bones look like, and so forth.

Then I get to the art project. I give everyone a piece of black paper and tell them we’re going to make our own x-rays. Using chalk, I have them trace their hand and arm. Then I give them q-tips, telling them that we will pretend the q-tips are the bones. To make the different sizes of bones we cut the q-tips into pieces. A note of caution though, if you use scissors, the q-tips can go flying. I found it easier to just break the q-tips with my hands. Here’s mine:

Art Skeleton X-Ray Hand

As you are doing this project, have the kids feel their own hands to find the bones. Talk with them about how many bones they think are in their hands, and where one ends and another begins. You can take this project any way you like depending on your needs.

If you want to continue this discussion further, you can go on to make a whole human skeleton. You can use q-tips for the bones if you want, or you can try a different medium. I used dried noodles for I like how I can use different noodles for different bones in the body. If you want, you can start by making an outline of the human body, or you can just let the kids make their own skeletons without the guideline. I do recommend you get a picture of a skeleton to let the kids work off, especially if skeletons are a new concept. Here’s my finished example:

Art Skeleton X-Ray Body

I’ll admit, I took a bit of expressive liberty in this picture just because my noodles weren’t all exactly “bone-shaped”. Since I didn’t really have a great way to represent a skull I just did a normal face, and the “ribs” extend a little too far. But for this activity I was focusing more on the expressive side then the scientific side.

So, there you have it. Two different ways to do art projects on the subject of the human skeleton. I hope that this has sparked some ideas for you! If you have other examples to share in your own work/practice, please comment below! Also if you have questions or want to share how it went for you, let me know!

Skeleton Art Activity Notes

Ages: 5 and up (younger children will need assistance)

Materials: Black paper, white chalk, Q-tips, glue, assorted noodles, and any pictures of bones

Therapeutic Value:
Medical Play/Exploration
Health Education
Legacy Building

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