The Digestive System for children
The latest topic to be added to The Virtual Explorers Club membership site is all about our Digestive System, and what more fun and practical a way to explore the digestive system for children than making our very own poo?! This has created disgust and delight in equal measure, so I’m told- thank you to everyone for sending photos of their Explorers enjoying the process (or otherwise!)
For me activities like this one are the best kind of learning, they’re fun, simple and memorable- whether your Explorer is 4 or more there’s lots of enjoyment to be had.
Here’s how I explain the way the digestive system works for children.
You will need
- Jug of water
- Rolling pin
- Sandwich Bag with a small amount of water in the bottom
- One leg from a pair of old tights
- Place your Weetabix* into a bowl (your mouth) use your rolling pin (teeth) to bash up the Weetabix- the more you use the larger the poo you’ll make! Add 45ml water (saliva) to make it mushy and stir with your spoon (tongue)
- Pour the Weetabix mixture into the sandwich bag (stomach) and begin to gently squeeze with your hands. Notice the small amount of water in the bottom, this is your gastric acids.
- Now cut a small corner off your bag (sphincter), and pour your liquid into the tights (intestines). Use a food clip to seal the open end of your tights.
- Place the tights onto a tray and squeeze them, watching as the water and smaller pieces of the Weetabix mixture pass through, this is the nutrients being absorbed into your bloodstream. Continue squeezing until the Weetabix mixture becomes more solid and most of the water has been squeezed out.
- Now tip your tights over, squeezing the solid lump along towards the food clip- this is the waste products travelling through your large intestine towards the rectum. Now open the foodclip over a bowl and squeeze out your poo!
*If you don’t have Weetabix to hand, fear not, you can use anything really- bread, crackers, cereal….so there’s no excuses!
What’s the science?
The journey begins when you first place food in your mouth, our teeth are responsible for ripping, tearing, grinding and chewing up our food. As we begin to chew, so saliva is also added into our mouths, this helps make our food easier to swallow but it also helps us to taste our food and adds enzymes (chemicals) which begin to process the food we eat.
As we swallow the muscles that line our Oesophagus are responsible for pushing and squeezing our food down into our stomachs. When our food enters it it will stay here for up to five hours being squeezed in waves by the outer wall. Once our food has turned into a slimy soup like liquid it is ready to travel into the small intestine, where all the nutrients we need are directly absorbed into our bloodstream.
The undigested leftovers are squeezed along into the large intestines, a short wide organ, where water and some vitamins are absorbed. The waste products our bodies can’t use are stored as poo in the final part of the intestine, known as the Rectum, until we are ready to release it through the anus