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P.E. Central Lesson Plan: Spinal Cord Cereal
Purpose of Activity:
The students will learn how the spinal cord is protected by the vertebrae and they will learn how the spine bends.
Suggested Grade Level:
Materials Needed:
Bowls of Toasted O's; Bowls of Fruit Rings (or another larger ring cereal); string licorice; picture book of the spinal cord and vertebrae or small model of a skeleton (optional; but it helps them to visualize);
Lesson Plan:
Description of Idea

Beginby describing the job of the spinal cord. Show pictures and explainthat the spinal cord is like a telephone wire sending messagesthrough the body. Next, talk about the vertebrae by explaining howthey enclose the spinal cord for protection. Each of the disksoffer cushioning between the vertebrae. May be helpful to use a little skeleton, and show how it moves andwhere the brain and spinal cord are held.

Next, hand out the bowls of cereal.Two students can share the bowls if you don't have enough. Then each student is given an 8-9inch piece of licorice with a knot at one end. Explain that fortoday Fruit Rings are vertebrae, Toasted O's are disks, and thelicorice is the spinal cord. Show them an example of how to threadfirst a vertebrae, then a disk, vertebrae, disk, etc. When theyget about two inches from the top, tie a knot at that end. Theycan see how the spine bends and moves. If they bend it too farthe cereal breaks.

As an alternative for older students, divide the colors of thecereal and build 7 cervical vertebrae, 12 thoracic and 5 lumbar.One color to represent each set. Use the same Toasted O's forthe disks. After they have completed it they can be packed in baggies.
Anee Solari who teaches at Mitchell Elementary School in Anne Arbor , MI . Posted on PEC: 5/18/2000.
This lesson plan was provided courtesy of P.E. Central (
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