Even though there are lots of muscles in your body, did you know there are just three different kinds? Discover what each type does and why you wouldn't be able to move without them!
Make a Hand Model
Make a working model of your hand, using paper and string. You'll see how the muscles in your hands pull on your bones to help you move your fingers!
On your hand, you have three joints in each finger. Joints are formed by bones and tendons (tough, thick cords) and are covered by muscles. On the model hand, each of the joints is made with the piece of tape that connects the string to the cardboard. The string is like the muscles and tendons in your hand, because it can pull on the cardboard (which is like your bones), and make it bend. Unlike your hand though, this model is not very flexible. Joints in your hands can bend much more easily because there are separate bones between each joint. Pull on different parts of the different strings and see how the cardboard hand moves. Try moving your fingers in the same way. Can you move your fingers more than the cardboard hand can?
Muscles in Motion
Use your sense of touch to find out which muscles you use when doing different activities. For this project you may want a friend or family member to be your helper.
You use various muscles in your body throughout the day. Muscles are what allow you to move. Even very basic things that you do often require you to use your muscles - getting out of bed, eating, walking, and playing all use muscles! When you experimented, you probably found that certain parts of your arms and legs helped you do certain things, like throw or catch a ball, kick a ball, run, etc. Can you think of some other things you do that use those same muscles? How about jumping, skipping, doing cartwheels or summersaults, playing tag or leap-frog, helping set the table or wash the dishes, brushing your teeth, and putting away your toys?
To learn more about some of the different muscles in your body, check out this worksheet. See if you can name the muscles you used for the different activities you tried above.
Eye muscles are the busiest muscles in the body. Scientists estimate they may move more than 100,000 times a day!
Your face has over 30 muscles in it, which help you show emotions like happiness, surprise, fear, anger, or sadness.
The muscles of your heart are always working hard. In fact, when you are at rest, they are working twice as hard as the leg muscles of a person running.
What's the part of your body that can move the fastest? Your nose - it's always running.
Patient: Doctor, doctor, it hurts when I press my finger here, and here. What do you think is wrong?
Doctor: You have a broken finger!
What do you do for a pig with sore muscles? Rub him with oinkment.
Way Cool Websites
This interactive diagram shows how bones and muscles form joints to help you move.
Learn the names of major muscles with this webpage.
See how blood moves through your heart and find coloring pages from this site.
Can you label the parts of a human skeleton? Learn more about your bones with this game.
All About Muscles
Muscles are made of a special kind of body tissue that is very flexible. They are located between your bones and your skin. Some muscles are inside of your organs, like your heart and stomach. Muscles are able to contract, or pull, to help your body move. Muscles grow with you as you grow. Once you are fully grown, they can also grow stronger from exercise, such as lifting weights. Check out this website to see magnified pictures of muscle tissue.
Muscles turn energy into motion - they are like the engines or motors of your body. They are what allow you to move. Even though you have an amazing skeleton system (your bones), without muscles, you wouldn't be able to move your bones an inch! There are a total of about 630 muscles in your body and each one serves a special purpose. Lots of muscles work together to help you move or even just stay balanced. When you are standing still, your body needs 300 different muscles just to keep you from falling over! That's nearly half of the muscles in your whole body. Eating, running, jumping, kicking, catching, playing talking, and lots of other activities that we do every day require muscles.
Kinds of Muscles
There are three types of muscle in the human body: skeletal, cardiac, and smooth. All of the muscles in your body together are called the muscular system.
Skeletal muscles attach to bones, and are voluntary--you can control them with your brain, which sends signals through nerves telling the muscles to move. Most of the muscles in your body are skeletal muscles - they are the ones that allow you move your arms and legs, make funny faces, and wiggle your toes. Many skeletal muscles are connected to your bones through tendons. Being connected to bones is what makes it easy for your body to move when your muscles are working. Skeletal muscles usually come in pairs. When one muscles works, or contracts, it moves a part of your body in one direction. To move it back, the opposite muscle has to contract! For example, if you stretch your arm out in front of you and bend it at the elbow, your bicep muscle contracts. To straighten your arm back out, your triceps muscle contracts and the bicep relaxes back to normal!
Did you know that your heart is made mostly of muscle? The type of muscle in your heart is called cardiac (say: kar-dee-ak) muscle, and the heart is the only place in your body where it is found. This muscle is very durable and strong, but it is also a little bit flexible. This allows the heart to pump blood all through your body. The cardiac muscles move in and out, pumping blood through your veins, and allowing blood to move back into your heart, so it can keep circulating. Your heart beats about 100,000 times every day! In one day, the blood in your body travels a total of 12,000 miles - that's like traveling across the US from coast to coast four times! The muscles in your heart move in and out, so that your heart pumps without you even having to think about it. Muscles that move this way are called involuntary.
Smooth muscles cause movement inside your body in places you don't often notice. They help you digest food by pushing it down your esophagus and into your stomach and then on into your intestines. Your eyes also have smooth muscles that help you focus on things. Even your blood vessels have smooth muscles to help move blood through your body. These muscles can stretch a lot. They can also maintain the stretch for a long time without tearing. They are usually in layers. Smooth muscles are involuntary, too--they work automatically, whether you ever think about them or not!
Printable Worksheet and PDF
Teach kids about major muscles like biceps and quadriceps, where they are located, and actions they are used for with the labeled diagram on this worksheet. The bottom part provides space to draw pictures of activities that use the muscles shown. It also works well in conjunction with the Muscles in Motion science project above.
To view a printable version of this newsletter and the worksheet together, click here.