Human Skeleton


Human Skeleton introduces students to the functions of several major human bones. Students will learn about the four main parts that nearly all bones have. They will also discover a little about joints, cartilage, ligaments, and tendons.

In the “Options for Lesson” section of the classroom procedure page, you will find a list of additional ideas or suggestions. One idea is to have students pick a favorite bone to write about and explain why they would want to be that bone. Another idea is to make the practice worksheet an additional homework assignment.

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What our Human Skeleton lesson plan includes

Lesson Objectives and Overview: Human Skeleton teaches students about the functions of major bones and the skeletal structure overall. Students will discover why bones are so important and be able to identify some of the main human bones. They will also learn how to correctly assemble them together. 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. The only supplies you will need apart from the handouts are scissors and glue or tape. In addition, before you deliver the lesson, you should develop a list of movements for step 1 in the classroom procedure.

Options for Lesson

There are several ideas in the “Options for Lesson” section of the classroom procedure page that you might find useful or interesting and want to add to the lesson. One idea is to read the content pages as a class, individually, aloud, or silently depending on what you want to accomplish. Another option is to use the practice worksheet as an additional homework assignment. Students could write reports about a single bone, and you could assign each student a different bone to research and present. For the activity, you could require students to label each bone as they assemble the skeletons. One more idea that you could use as a creative writing assignment is to have students pick a favorite bone and explain why they would want to be that bone.

Teacher Notes

The teacher notes page provides an extra paragraph of information to help guide the lesson and remind you what to focus on. The paragraph explains some of the key content that you will teach students and mentions that the main objective is for them to be able to identify major bones in the human body. You can use the blank lines to write down any ideas or thoughts you have about the topic as you prepare.


Parts of the Bones

The Human Skeleton lesson plan contains four content pages. Students first learn a little about the skeletal system and the different parts that nearly all bones have. The skeleton protects our organs and other systems of the body. Without a skeleton, our bodies would simply collapse to the ground. Bones give the body structure and prevent us from flopping to the ground. A human adult has 206 bones total in their body.

Nearly every bone consists of four main parts: periosteum, compact bone, cancellous bone, and bone marrow. Periosteum is the outer membrane of a bone. It is thin and dense and contains the nerves and blood vessels that nourish the bone. Compact bone is smooth and hard. This is visible when you look at a skeleton.

The cancellous part of the bone is layered and sponge like. However, it is very strong, but not quite as durable as the compact bone. Finally, bone marrow is the innermost part of the bone. The cancellous bone protects bone marrow. The marrow of a bone is jelly like, and it also is responsible for creating blood cells.

When we are born, we have around 300 bones, but some of them fuse together as we grow up. By the time we are about 25 years old, we have 206 fully developed bones. Before joining together, some bones were made of cartilage, which is soft and flexible. This is the same material that composes the inside of our earlobes and other parts of the body.

Spine, Chest, and Head Bones

The lesson describes several significant bones that students should know about. To begin with, it discusses the spine and spinal cord. The spine runs down the center of the back. It protects the spinal cord, which contains the nerves that send information from the brain to the rest of the body. In total, there are 26 vertebrae bones that make up the spine. Between each vertebra is a disk made out of cartilage. These disks prevent the 26 vertebrae from rubbing against each other. They also act as a shock absorber for our body.

Moving to the front side, 24 bones make up the ribs or rib cage, which protects our heart, lungs, and liver. They come in 12 pairs, though some people are born with more or fewer. In the center of the chest is the sternum, a strong bone that holds seven of the 12 pairs of ribs together. Three of the other pairs connect by cartilage, and we call the last ones floating ribs because they are not connected in the front of the body.

All the ribs, however, attach to the spine in the back. In general, ribs are fairly easy to feel. Students will learn that if they damage or hurt one of their ribs, it can be very painful. This is because the ribs actually move every time we inhale and exhale. When we hurt other bones, at least it’s easier not to move them.

Next, students will discover facts about the skull and other bones in the face. The skull protects one the most important parts of the body: the brain. Different bones make up the skull. Some protect our faces while others protect our brains. And we can actually feel some of them by pushing on the back of our heads a few inches above the neck. By carefully pushing on the area just below our eyes, we can feel the ridge of a bone. The smallest bone in the body is in the head. It is the stirrup bone, which rests behind the eardrum.

Arms and Legs

The lesson then describes bones in the arms and legs. Only three bones make up the arm, which attaches to the scapula, or shoulder blade. The humerus is the bone above the elbow, and the radius and ulna bones are below it. The radius is the bone that attaches to the thumb. It may surprise students to learn that over a quarter of all their bones are in the wrist, hands, and fingers.

Eight different bones compose the wrist. The center of the hand has five bones, each finger has three bones, and the thumb has two. Without all of these, it would be pretty hard to do many of the things we need to with our hands every day. (You could take the opportunity here to ask students what activities or actions they would struggle with if they didn’t have as many bones. Examples include things like bending their fingers to pick things up or waving hello and goodbye.)

Our legs, ankles, and feet also contain quite a few bones. Starting in the hip region, legs connect to the pelvis, a bowl-shaped bone that supports the spine. There are two large hip bones in the front, and the lowest part of the spine is in the back. The pelvis helps protect parts of the urinary, digestive, and reproductive systems.

The bone that connects to the pelvis is the femur, which is the largest bone in the body. It is one of four bones that make up the leg. The other three include the patella, fibula, and tibia. The patella connects to the femur as well and is another name for the kneecap, which protects the knee joint. And the fibula and tibia run the length of the knee to the ankle. The tibia is larger than the fibula.

Those lower leg bones connect to the talus. At this point, the feet bones are very similar to those in the hands. There are five bones in the main part of the foot, three in each of the small toes, and two in the big toe. These bones work together to allow us to walk or stand. Without them, these and many more actions would be very hard.

Joints, Tendons, and Protecting the Human Skeleton

Every bone must join together with something. We refer to any place where two bones meet as a joint. And at every joint, ligaments hold the bones and joints together. Ligaments are like a tough rubber band that is both flexible and strong. Similar to ligaments are tendons. Tendons connect muscles to bones rather than bones to joints.

Some joints move while other remains stationary. One stationary joint in the skull is the parieto-temporal suture. It runs along the side of the skull. Among joints that move, there are two types: hinge joints and ball and socket joints. Hinge joints are just like hinges on a door and allow us to bend and straighten certain bones, such as elbows and knees. Ball and socket joints are the ones at the shoulders and hips. They allow plenty of movement in any direction. A fluid called synovial fluid helps joints move properly.

Just like with the rest of our body, it is important to take care of our bones and keep them healthy. One of the best ways to protect the skull, for example, is to wear a helmet when riding a bike or skateboard or participating in similar activities. Likewise, wearing protective coverings on the elbows and knees helps protect those areas. To strengthen our bones, we can drink milk and consume other calcium-rich foods and drinks to harden our bones. And, of course, exercising is not only good for the bones, but it also keeps the whole body healthy and strong.


The Human Skeleton lesson plan includes three worksheets: an activity worksheet, a practice worksheet, and a homework assignment. Each of these tasks helps solidify students’ comprehension of lesson concepts and allows them to demonstrate what they learned in different ways. The guidelines on the classroom procedure page outline when to distribute each worksheet throughout the lesson.


This worksheet displays a number of bones that students will cut out and assemble. If you want to put the skeletons on display, you may want to provide blank paper for students to glue or tape the bones onto. It may also be helpful to have a skeleton on display for reference as students complete the activity.


The practice worksheet requires students to first label 14 bones on the figure using the terms from the word box. Then students will respond to a few prompts that relate to the information from the content pages. You may or may not allow students to refer to the content pages for reference.


For the homework assignment, students will complete a crossword puzzle. There is a total of 37 clues to solve. As with the practice worksheet, you can choose whether or not to allow students to refer to the content pages for help to complete the assignment.

Worksheet Answer Keys

The last pages of the lesson plan PDF are answer keys for the worksheets. The correct answers are in red to make it easy to compare students’ responses to the answer keys. 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


Science, Video


4th Grade, 5th Grade, 6th Grade

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    United States United States

    Human Skeleton

    This was exactly what I needed to teach the skeletal system to sixth graders. The materials were easy to use and the kids loved it.

    United States United States

    The Human Skeleton

    I used this lesson for the Gifted Students I teach. It is rigor and fun for the students.

    Canada Canada

    Great Resource!

    Enjoyed using this resource with my 5th Grade Class.

    A Learn Bright Customer
    Taliya T.
    US US

    5th grader

    love building the skeleton

    A Learn Bright Customer
    Taliya T.
    US US

    human skeleton 5th grade

    It was a great way to learn about bones. My fifth grader loved the activity of putting the skeleton together. You can even make flashcards to to stick on the skeleton.