How Do Muscles Work?

how do muscles work

Nicholas has been learning about the muscles in his body.  He’s learned about the tree types of muscles – smooth, skeletal, and cardiac.  He is working on learning the names and locations of some of the major skeletal muscles in his body.

How Do Muscles Work?

We have read about how a muscle works through contracting and extending but there is nothing like a hands-on project to bring learning to life.

So my son made a model of his arm, complete with bicep and tricep muscles, so he could learn first hand how these muscles work.

He first had to build the bones that the muscles attach to.  For this, he used a cardboard tube from a roll of wrapping paper and cut out a piece the length of his humerus bone.

Then he measured his forearm and cut out another piece of cardboard to match. He cut this forearm piece in half lengthwise and taped them together to form 2 more narrow bones – his radius and ulna bones.

making bones for muscle model

He labeled his bone model carefully. He straightened out a paper clip and punched it through the ends of his pieces of bones to connect them, just like a joint would do. He attached the forearm bones together with a rubber band in place of a wrist.

making a muscle model

Make a Muscle

To make the muscles for his model, Nicholas used two long red balloons – the skinny ones you use to make balloon animals.  He blew them up  just slightly and pressed the air to the center of the balloon, leaving lots of unused balloon on either end.  Next he tied each of the ends of the balloons to his bones to form the bicep and tricep muscles of his model.

Now he has his own model of a muscle that he can use to demonstrate how the bicep muscle extends when the arm is straight and how the muscle contracts when the forearm is pulled up.

muscle model collage

The human body is a fascinating wonder of science.  The Quirky Mommas love using fun hands-on projects to teach their kids about their own bodies.  Here are just a few of their ideas:

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About Kim

Kim is a homeschooling mom of two children. When she isn't on a nature hike with her kids, she can be found scrapbooking about their adventures and possibly sneaking a bite of chocolate. She writes about motherhood and family fun at Savor the Days.