This unit was designed to serve as an introduction to puberty or not. Your choice.
Lesson 1: Cell It
Lesson 1 looks at what is common to all living things. It’s not as easy a question as you might think. A reasonable answer is that all living things feed, grow, reproduce, respire, excrete, and are sensitive to their environment.
Use Student Booklet pages 2 and 3 to learn about the cell as the basic unit of life. Be sure to point out that cells exhibit all the characteristics of a living thing.
Next, students learn about algae. Use the algae reading to introduce students to review the characteristics of a living thing whether it’s a cell or a collection of specialized cells. Algae are a great thing to use to teach these ideas since there are examples of algae in both categories.
Make sure students get to glue the color pictures in their Student Booklets. The algae are particularly interesting in color.
Lesson 2: Uniquely Me
Lesson 2 introduces reproduction. If you’re doing this as an introduction to puberty unit, you will want to insert additional human reproduction information here.
The lesson walks students through some simple heredity concepts including dominant and recessive genes as they move from what was thought before Mendel’s work was discovered to what we know now.
Use the Characteristic Cards to talk about those traits that are inherited and those that are learned. And don’t feel bad if you’ve been teaching that tongue rolling is an inherited trait. You’re not alone even though the definitive study showing that it is not inherited was done in 1975.
Send home the Trait Trials sheets for fun. Be sure to stress that humans have around 3 billion DNA base pairs. That means that even though it looks like having a widow’s peak is due to one gene, it’s not known for sure.
The wording on the sheet is purposefully vague to make sure that blended families or adopted children can still have fun looking at the traits.
Lesson 3: All the Parts
Lesson 3 is a collection of activities for each of the systems. The activities are straightforward and shouldn’t be too tough. If there are some that you’d like more info on, please let us know at firstname.lastname@example.org.
At the end of Lesson 3, assign groups a piece of the Body Systems poster. If you are doing this unit as an introduction to puberty, use the Endocrine System/Reproductive System piece. If you aren’t, use the piece with just the Endocrine System on it.
Have students research the cells, tissues, and organs that are in that system. The Teacher’s Guide has some ideas to get students started.
Lesson 4: Make the Whole
Lesson 4 has two parts. After students have completed their research and filled in their puzzle piece, they should present their findings to the class.
When the puzzle is complete, it will create a giant circle and will give you a great chance to talk about the amazing ways the systems interact.
After discussing the organization of a living thing from the cell to the whole organism, explain that the environment also has an effect on an organism.
Use the environment arcs to talk about the influences that affect their behavior. This is a great opportunity to bring in a substance abuse prevention program. Helping fifth graders identify the positive and negative influences on their behavior is a good place to begin talking about bad decisions.
Have students work together to complete the Environment arcs that encircle the Body Puzzle. When groups are finished, assemble the entire puzzle that takes the students from a single cell to their place in the world.
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