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Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes: Four Body Parts Activities for Preschoolers

written by: Sylvia Cochran • edited by: Sarah Malburg • updated: 3/2/2012

When it comes to fun and educational preschool activities, body parts are a favorite! They lend themselves to a number of crafts but also active games that can have kids running around quite a bit. Read on for some great activities that make naming parts of the body fun in the preschool classroom.

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    The Leg Bone is Connected to the...

    This lesson lends itself to having a lot of fun. There is artwork associated with the recognition and placement of body parts. There are also running games. And, if your curriculum permits, you might even incorporate sign language! Moreover, if you teach in a multi-cultural classroom, you might consider adding a second language component to the lessons. Printable body parts flash cards are very useful in this setting.

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    Crafts, Games and Activties

    Body Outline

    Introduce the concept of the body by acquainting preschoolers with themselves as a whole. The body outline craft is an excellent way of starting down this road. You need a big roll of butcher paper, a black crayon, and a sturdy surface. Enlist the assistance of a helper to get through the work quickly. In quick succession, ask each child to lay down on a piece of butcher paper with their arms and legs outstretched.

    If needed, tape two pieces of butcher paper together to make room for the child’s entire shape. Draw around the child’s body with the crayon, and then cut out the outline. As the other children get their turns, ask the kids to decorate their body shapes by drawing faces, fingers, and so on. Your assistant can help to make it as realistic as possible. Once everyone has a body shape to work with, teach the words “head,” “shoulders,” “arms and hands,” “torso,” and “legs and feet.”

    It is said that repetition is the mother of all learning, and preschool activities involving body parts are no different. Repeat these terms over and over as the children are working on the shapes.

    Face Plate

    Once you are confident that your preschoolers know the names of the body parts thus far introduced, focus on a face craft. Use a paper plate for each child as well as crayons. Pair up the children and ask each child to draw the face of her or his partner. Ask them to pay special attention to the color of the mouth, the hair, the eyes, and also if there are freckles. At the end of the activity, instruct the children to exchange plates so that each child has their own face plate. Emphasize the words “head,” “forehead,” “nose,” “mouth,” “lips,” “cheeks,” “hair,” and also “neck.” Affix the face plates to the body shapes.

    Pin the Body Part on the Dummy

    Make a dummy by cutting out a piece of felt in the shape of a child. Have different colored felt that you now cut in the shape of the body parts you have discussed in class. Attach Velcro to the felt and also to the body parts. At the onset, this seems like a lot of prep work, but remember that you will be able to reuse this dummy throughout the course of the school year and perhaps even for years to come.

    When the children are ready to play a game, put up the dummy and place the body parts on a table at the other end of the room. Call on the kids one by one to “put the body part on the dummy.” For example, you could call out: “Kelly, put the mouth on the dummy!” The child will now run to the table, select the mouth shaped felt, run to the dummy, and affix it in the general vicinity of the face where the mouth would be located.

    Once the kids are old hands at this game, up the ante by teaching them how to say the words using American Sign Language; Signs for body parts in American Sign Language are easy to find. Then, you may sign the body part you want the child to pick up and put on the dummy while the rest of the game remains the same.

    Color Me Perfect

    There are a number of names and variations of this diversion. Preschoolers love this fast paced game, and, if you have already introduced numbers and counting, you may combine the two lessons here. Ask the children to touch a specific number of items of a certain color with a particular body part. For example, you might call out: “Touch three red things with one knee.” The children will now look for red items and then seek to apply their knees to the items. This is a wonderful game to play outside!

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    Learning Outcomes

    Preschool activities with body parts provide a number of learning experiences. Front and center, of course, is the ability to recognize and name the parts of the body. Secondly, these lessons are ideal for basic counting as well as an introduction to the concepts of left and right. The art component is instrumental in emphasizing small motor skills and especially the correct holding of a crayon with an eye on future pencil positioning for writing. Cutting out along outlines is another learning outcome that these lessons offer.

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