Illustrating the Human Body
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This year we’ve been studying biology with our tenth grader and life science with our 5th and 8th graders.
Part of our year has been spent taking a look at human systems.
Last summer I thought it would be fun to illustrate the human body and learn along the way. Here’s a glimpse of how we did it.
Why Illustrate the Human Body
With so many diagrams and pre-made pictures available, why take the time and effort to make your own illustrations?
- Appeals to your student’s creative side– I knew when we set out to do Biology I that I would have to include ways for our creative daughter to exercise her creativity.
- Changes things up in a standard biology course– Courses can be taught different ways even high school classes. To me, this was a fun way to accomplish the same requirements.
- Helps cement the parts and what they do– Writing often leads to better recall later and the process of drawing vs labeling helps to reinforce the items even more.
- Increases familiarity with textures and details– When you simply label a diagram, you miss the intricate details of the tissues that make up each organ.
Supplies Needed for Illustrating the Human Body
You can really use any materials you’d like or the ones you have on hand, but based on our experience I have a few recommendations.
- Colored Pencils– I think this a great medium for making colored drawings like those for biological illustrations. Try to avoid the cheap ones. Prismacolor pencils offer rich colors. If you haven’t seen this list of Must Have Art Supplies for a Project Based Homeschool, you’ll want to see what else we keep on hand.
- Blender Pencils– These are for blending layers of colored pencils as you draw.
- Drawing Paper– We used copy paper for its standard 8.5×11 size. This way you can bind the illustrations together easier.
- Clipboard– For working on the illustrations while I read about the human body.
References for Studying & Illustrating the Human Body
We used a variety of resources to study and make our drawings. You can use them for fact reference and diagram labeling as well.
- The Way We Work: Getting to Know the Human Body– A lovely story of how the body works in terms easy to understand. The best part are the illustrations by David Macauley which show a rich, detailed drawing of the different tissues.
- DK Encyclopedia of the Human Body– Nice reference material with information and diagrams.
- Body by Design– anatomy and physiology in the context of a Creator. Great drawings and discussion along with information on illness.
- Start Exploring: Gray’s Anatomy a Fact Filled Coloring Book– Great detailed drawings you can color and in our case used to draw in texture for the illustrations.
- Usborne Human Body (Internet Linked)– A great overview of human systems with lovely diagrams.
Notebooking Resources for Human Systems
Perhaps you are not interested in illustrating the human body, but you want to find resources for excellent notebooking. I always look for clear, easy to label diagrams and in my experience, the best ones are not free. Here are some of my favorites which some of our students used this year.
Anatomy Notebooking Pages– from Notebookingpages.com. A full set of human anatomy and physiology pages which work into a notebook easily. They also have lifetime memberships (which we have) that make it easy to grab and go!
My Body– from Teacher Created Resources. This is what we use to make life sized diagrams and models of the human body (pictured below).
Other Activities for Studying the Human Body
Of course, we did more than draw and label the human body. Here’s a sampling of other things we did.
- Read Aloud– from The Way We Work.
- Assigned Reading– from CK-12 texts and other reference material
- Illustrate & Diagram– each system and label
- Labs– We tried to do one lab for each system. For example, we determined lung capacity, pulse rates, and reaction time.
- Measuring Lung Capacity– a lab on how to measure lung capacity and what factors might effect lung capacity
Have you studied the human body? What was your favorite activity?