Digestive System


Digestive System teaches students all about the components that contribute the body’s ability to digest food. Students will learn about the functions of those parts and be able to trace the movement of food through the system. They will also get to design a creative presentation that explains the body system to others.

The “Options for Lesson” section contains a few suggestions for additional ideas or activities to add to the lesson if there is extra time or you’d like to extend the lesson. One idea is to have students vote on each others’ presentations.

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What our Digestive System lesson plan includes

Lesson Objectives and Overview: Digestive System explores the parts and functions that make up this important body system. Students will learn about and be able to identify each of these parts and explain their functions. They will also discover the path by which food moves through the body. This lesson is for students in 4th grade, 5th grade, and 6th grade.

Classroom Procedure

Every lesson plan provides you with a classroom procedure page that outlines a step-by-step guide to follow. You do not have to follow the guide exactly. The guide helps you organize the lesson and details when to hand out worksheets. It also lists information in the yellow box that you might find useful. You will find the lesson objectives, state standards, and number of class sessions the lesson should take to complete in this area.

In addition, it describes the supplies you will need as well as what and how you need to prepare beforehand. You should make sure to provide pieces of food for each student to use throughout the lesson. If possible, gather the materials that students will need depending on which activity they choose to do. It may be beneficial to ask students which activity they want to do before giving the lesson so that you can gather any supplies that may be hard to find.

Options for Lesson

There are several suggestions in the “Options for Lesson” section of the classroom procedure page that you could incorporate into the activity portion of the lesson plan. One idea is to have students work in pairs. You could also give them the opportunity to complete a second option for extra credit. Another suggestion is to allow students to use the internet to find additional information to include for the activity. They could vote for best story, game, drawing, presentation, and more. A final idea is to create a rubric to grade the various activity options.

Teacher Notes

The teacher notes page provides an extra paragraph of information to help guide the lesson. It reminds you that this lesson provides a general overview and is not intended to cover every aspect of this body system. The main objective is that students learn about the digestive system and its role in the human body. You can use the blank lines to write down any other ideas or thoughts you have about the topic as you prepare.


Start of Digestive System

The Digestive System lesson plan contains a total of three content pages. The lesson explains how the body is hard at work taking all the food we eat throughout the day and turning it into nutrients and energy. Students will learn that the digestive system is the process by which the body breaks down food. Digestion allows our bodies to receive nutrients and energy from the food we eat.

It may surprise students to learn that the process actually begins when we see or smell food. Our mouths tend to produce more saliva around meal times. This phenomenon happens in other animals as well. Dogs, for instance, will usually drool most often when it is time to eat, or close to it. When we eat food, the saliva begins to break down the chemicals in the food, turning it into a mushy paste that is easy to swallow.

The tongue helps move the food to the back of the mouth and into the esophagus. The esophagus then transports the food toward the stomach using specific muscles. A small flap, the epiglottis, blocks the trachea or windpipe so that food doesn’t go down that way. If that happens, we tend to cough or choke. This often happens when we eat too quickly or try to talk with a mouths full of food.

Stomach and Intestines

Students will discover that their stomach has three responsibilities. It stores food, breaks it down into a liquid mixture, and empties the mixture slowly into the small intestine. While food is still inside the stomach, gastric juices help break down the food and kill any bad bacteria that might be present. The small intestine, which would be around 22 feet long if stretched out, rests below the stomach. Its job is to break down the food further so that the body can better absorb all the vitamins, minerals, proteins, and so on from the food.

There are a few organs that assist the small intestine in doing its job: the pancreas, liver, and gall bladder. The pancreas produces the juices that help the body digest fats and proteins in our food. The liver produces bile that helps us absorb fat into the bloodstream. It also filters out anything that might harm the body and stores vitamins and sugars. The gall bladder stores the bile from the liver until our body needs it again.

After food passes through the small intestine, it enters the large intestine, which is thicker and shorter than the small intestine. The large intestine receives all the waste products that the body doesn’t need and moves it through the colon. At this point, it’s the body’s last chance to absorb any nutrients or minerals before the waste leaves.

End of the Digestive System

Students will discover that the appendix is a part of this system, but it doesn’t seem to serve a purpose anymore. Experts believe it used to be important to people in the past who experienced different environments. Today, the stomach works better and food is cleaner that it used to be. While the appendix doesn’t serve a purpose, it can be problematic if it gets infected.

Once waste leaves the colon, it becomes a solid again and pushes out through the rectum. The rectum is located at the end of the large intestine. After leaving the rectum, waste leaves the body through the anus. This is the final step of the journey food takes through the digestive system. The lesson explains that there are certain ways to help improve our digestion. One way is to drink water and stay hydrated. Another is to eat a healthy diet that consists of foods rich in fiber, such as fruits, vegetables, and whole grains.

Key Terms

Here is a list of the vocabulary words students will learn in this lesson plan:

  • Digestion—the process of breaking down food to allow the body to receive nutrients and energy
  • Saliva—a substance that forms in the mouth
  • Oral cavity—the mouth, teeth, and tongue
  • Tongue—a part of the mouth that helps move food to the back of the mouth and into the opening of the esophagus
  • Esophagus—a 10-inch-long pipe that moves food from the back of the throat to the stomach
  • Trachea—another name for the windpipe that runs alongside the esophagus
  • Epiglottis—a special flap that blocks the windpipe to ensure food does not go down the trachea
  • Stomach—an organ responsible for storing food, breaking it down into a liquid mixture, and slowly emptying it into the small intestine
  • Gastric juices—substances that help break down food and kill any bacteria that the food might contain
  • Small intestine—an organ beneath the stomach that is responsible for further breakdown of food so that the body can absorb any vitamins, minerals, proteins, and so on
  • Pancreas—an organ that makes juices that help the body digest fats and proteins from food
  • Liver—an organ that filters out harmful substances and stores vitamins and sugars for the body
  • Bile—the juice within the liver that helps absorb fats into the bloodstream
  • Gall bladder—an organ that stores bile from the liver until the body needs it again
  • Large intestine—an organ that is thicker and shorter than the small intestine and receives all the waste products that the body does not need
  • Colon—a part of the large intestine that waste product goes through
  • Appendix—an organ that does not seem to serve a particular purpose for the digestive system but that can be problematic if infected
  • Rectum—the end of the large intestine through which solid waste pushes through
  • Anus—the part of the body through which waste exits the body


The Digestive System lesson plan includes three worksheets: an activity worksheet, a practice worksheet, and a homework assignment. The activity worksheet provides four options to choose from. Each one will help students solidify their grasp of the material they learned throughout the lesson. You can refer to the classroom procedure guidelines to know when to hand out each worksheet.


Students will write a creative story with imaginary characters traveling through the digestive system. The characters must travel through each part of the system, so the story must include information about each part’s function(s). The worksheet provides an example and explains why one option is wrong and the other is right. Students’ final stories should clearly explain the digestive system and its functions.


The second activity option is for students to draw a picture or cartoon strip. It should not simply be a drawing of the digestive system from the content pages. Instead, their drawings should be creative and include characters and possibly word bubbles. They should clearly show and explain how the digestive system works. It is possible that a single picture would not include every part of the digestive system. You may want to give students the option to draw a picture or cartoon of a general section, such as the mouth or the stomach area rather than the entire system.


The third option is for students to create a slideshow. If students choose to do a slideshow presentation, they will need to include words, diagrams, pictures, and so on. Their presentation can also include narration, embedded links, and any other information that will help viewers fully and clearly understand the digestive system.


For the last option, students can choose to create a board game of some kind. The game must have clear instructions on how to play. It should provide a learning opportunity for the players just as the other options do. It should also last more than just a couple minutes. The physical construction of the game needs to be sturdy and include images and pictures related to the digestive system. Parts that students could incorporate into the game include die, a spinner, cards, game pieces, and so on.


The practice worksheet lists 16 descriptions and provides a word bank with 16 terms. Students must match the descriptions to the correct term. At the bottom of the worksheet, they will respond to a prompt asking them which kinds of food or drink are best for helping the digestive system work properly.


For the homework assignment, students will review the parts of the digestive system listed in the word bank on the left side of the worksheet. In the blank space on the page, they will show the path food takes using a diagram similar to the example given. They should list the parts in order with arrows representing the proper pathway.

Worksheet Answer Keys

The last two pages of the PDF are answer keys for the practice and homework worksheets. The correct answers are in red to make it easy for you to compare them to your students’ work. For the most part, students answers’ should exactly reflect those on the answer keys, but there may be some variation. If you choose to administer the lesson pages to your students via PDF, you will need to save a new file that omits these pages. Otherwise, you can simply print out the applicable pages and keep these as reference for yourself when grading assignments.

Additional information


4th Grade, 5th Grade, 6th Grade


Science, Video

State Educational Standards

CSS.ELA-Literacy.RI.4.2, LB.ELA-Literacy.RI.4.3, LB.ELA-Literacy.RI.4.4, LB.ELA-Literacy.RI.5.2, LB.ELA-Literacy.RI.5.3, LB.ELA-Literacy.RI.5.4, LB.ELA-Literacy.RST.6.2, LB.ELA-Literacy.RST.6.4

Lessons are aligned to meet the education objectives and goals of most states. For more information on your state objectives, contact your local Board of Education or Department of Education in your state.

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sanjay m.

Great resource

Very helpful in preparing elementary students for a science competition.

Philippines Philippines

Digestive System

The content was very understandable.. The activities were good. I love this one.

United States United States

I loved the packet it was very informative

Robin C.

Excellent lesson plan

Wonderful little unit with great worksheets, project ideas, and supportive links. We’ve done many of these and been completely satisfied every time.

Andrea E.

Great resource

This site is a great resource for our students and has helped me with ideas for my own classroom.