April 2, 2008

Jeff is outside. His coat is zipped up to his chin, his gloves are pulled on tight, and his pant legs are tucked inside his snow boots. In his hand he holds the weapon of the day — a snow shovel. Armed and ready to face the snowdrifts across the driveway, he marches to the front of the pile, takes a deep breath, and digs in.

Snow starts flying. A shovelful is flung to the right and buries the cat. Another shovelful is tossed to the left and buries the dog. Three shovelfuls are flipped backward, and little brother becomes a snowman.

He’s on a roll now. Pretty soon it looks like a blizzard has hit the front yard. Jeff puts all his effort into clearing the driveway because he knows his mother is waiting inside with a steaming cup of hot cocoa and a chocolate chip cookie with his name on it.

But what’s this? It looks like Jeff has slowed down a bit. His hat comes off, and steam curls above his head. Sweat glistens on his forehead. The shovel becomes a little heavier in his hands and the snow doesn’t fly quite so far. Before long he’s unzipped his coat, and he pauses to take several deep breaths before continuing.

Eventually the driveway is cleared. Jeff stumbles across the yard, dragging the snow shovel behind him. He staggers into the house, leaves his coat and boots in a melting puddle in the entry, and falls to the floor in utter exhaustion. Even his baby sister banging her rattle against his head doesn’t rouse him.

But wait. He’s stirring. Yes! He’s alive! The aroma of hot cocoa and warm cookies fresh from the oven has revived him. He forces himself to his hands and knees, crawls across the floor to the kitchen, and pulls himself into a chair.

His mouth starts watering. He wraps one shaking hand around a warm cup and another around a soft cookie. With a grateful smile to his mother, he opens his mouth and lets his taste buds jump into action. Mmmmmm. Nothing ever tasted so good. A few more bites of cookie, a few gulps of cocoa, and Jeff can feel life returning to his body. Within minutes he is leaning back in his chair with a satisfied, albeit chocolaty, smile smeared across his face.

Jeff has put his body through something we call exercise. Exercising is one of the most important things we can do for our bodies. Whether we get our exercise from shoveling snow, running, playing, climbing stairs, or chasing our brother across the yard, the act of getting our muscles moving, our blood racing, and our heart pumping is necessary for a healthy lifestyle.

God designed our bodies to move and to get exercise. How do we know that? Let’s find out together.

Bible Study

Let’s see what God says about our bodies. Older children can copy and study these verses. Many of them mention the body, but the context is referring to something else and simply using the body as an illustration. I use them below to show the importance God places on our bodies.

Younger children can copy the verses or memorize them.

     •   Read 1 Corinthians 6:19-20 and memorize it. “What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own? For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s. Paul is very clear that we are to take care of our bodies.

     •   Read 1 Corinthians 12:18. “But now hath God set the members every one of them in the body, as it hath pleased him.” If you read this verse in its context, you will see that Paul is referring to the parts of the body as parts of the church, that there are many members and each with his own task. I do not want to take this verse out of its context, but I want you to see that God made the parts of the body with specific tasks. We will learn about those further on.

     •   Copy 2 Corinthians 7:1 in your neatest handwriting. “Having therefore these promises, dearly beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God.” In this verse, God wants us to not only take care of our earthly bodies, but our spiritual bodies.

Science

Let’s discover some interesting facts about how our bodies move.

     •   When we exercise, our bodies move in hundreds of different ways. How many muscles are in our bodies? What holds our muscles onto our bones? How many bones are in our bodies?

     •   What are the muscles we can control called? What are the muscles we can’t control called? Can you name the three categories of muscles and give three examples from each category?

     •   What muscle acts like a pump for your entire body? Explain how this muscle works and why it’s so important.

     •   Now we know how our bodies move when we exercise, but why is exercise good for us? What does a good exercise program include? How can exercise protect our bodies?

Math

     •   Set aside a six-week period. On the first day, decide on several exercises you would like to do. Some examples are jumping rope, lifting weights, jumping on the trampoline, or bike riding. Make a chart listing each exercise and each week. For Week One, decide how long or how many of each exercise you will do.

Do your exercises every day for the week. When Week Two begins, add a few more reps or a few more minutes to each exercise and write it on your chart. In Week Three, add a few more, and keep adding more until you complete Week Six.

At the end of Week Six, look at your chart and figure out how much you’ve increased your workouts. Did you find that you were able to do more each week without becoming winded as quickly? What is your favorite kind of exercise?

     •   Check your pulse after exercising and multiply the number of beats within 10 seconds by six to determine your heart rate. (You can add a column to your chart and note this at the beginning of each week. Did your heart rate change after the six-week period was over?)

Vocabulary

myocardium, ligament, tendons, rectus abdominus, flexibility, aerobic, oxygen, circulatory system, valves, vessels, diaphragm, musculoskeletal system, striated, heart, bones, skeleton.

Activities

     •   Draw or copy a diagram of the heart. Label all the parts.

     •   You will need: Pencil, paper, stopwatch, or watch with a second hand. Watch the clock and count how many times you breathe in one minute. Write it down. Now run in place for 30 seconds. Watch the clock and again count how many times you breathe in one minute. Did you breathe more or less times after you ran in place? Why?

     •   You will need: Pencil, paper, stopwatch, or watch with a second hand. Count the number of times you feel your pulse in one minute. Write the number down. Now count a friend or sibling’s pulse and write it down. Now count the pulse of an adult and a baby. Does everyone’s heart beat the same amount of times per minute? Why or why not?

     •   Game: Blob Tag

You will need: A group of kids to play!

How game is played: When the tagger tags someone, they join hands to form a tagging pair. The pair becomes the taggers and gives chase while holding hands, moving as a “blob.” When they tag someone else, that person becomes part of the tagging blob.

     •   What games can you think of that would be good exercise? Go ahead and play them.

Writing

     •   Write a report describing the function of the heart, how it works, and how to maintain a healthy heart.

     •   Write two different stories about a man. Choose a name for him, an age, and where he lives. In the first story, make your character a man who exercises regularly. What does he look like? What kinds of exercising or activities does he do to stay fit? What kinds of hobbies does he have? What kinds of foods does he eat? When he goes to his doctor, what kind of report is he given?

In your second story, have the same character be a man who does not exercise regularly. Answer the same questions about him.

Reading

     •   Why Must... I Exercise? by Jackie Gaff (ages 4-8)

     •   My Amazing Body: A First Look at Health and Fitness by Pat Thomas (ages 4-8). Kids discover that our bodies have special abilities to protect us and restore our health.

     •   Get Moving: Tips on Exercise by Kathy Feeney (ages 4-8). Simply written. Explains why exercise and getting enough sleep are important for children.

     •   Hamster Camp: How Harry Got Fit by Teresa Bateman (ages 4-8). “Harry craved his candy. / He adored his pop and fries.” Bob the hamster is worried about his owner, Harry, so he takes him to Hamster Camp.

     •   Why Should I Get Off the Couch?: And Other Questions About Health and Exercise by Louise Spilsbury (ages 9-12)

     •   Five Kids & A Monkey Solve the Great Cupcake Caper: A Learning Adventure About Nutrition and Exercise by Nina Riccio (ages 9-12)

     •   Physical Fitness (My Health Series) by Alvin Silverstein (ages 9-12) 


Paula Miller is a children’s author, freelance writer, and homeschooling mom. She and her husband Travis live in south central Minnesota with their 4 sons. You can read more about Paula’s Faces in History Series for children 7 and up by visiting http://www.paulajmiller.com/

This article was originally published in the Jan/Feb ’08 issue of Home School Enrichment Magazine. For more information, visit http://homeschoolenrichment.com/