Skin Lesson Plans: Anatomy of Skin

Before moving on to the anatomy of the skin, make sure that students understand the regions of the skin by using one of the skin lesson plans in this series that covers this topic (see the rest of the articles below). Knowing the regions of the skin is vital to understanding the anatomy of the skin which is explored here.

Nail Activity

This is a fun activity that requires nothing more than the individuals own fingernails. Students will do this activity to learn more about the anatomy of the nail before moving on to the anatomy of the skin and the terms that go with it.

Ask students to place their middle finger of the right hand on the skin of their right hand index finger right behind the nail. Now students should use their left hand to press down on the very end of the index fingernail of the right hand. Make sure students press down on the very tip of the nail for maximum effect. As they press down, students should actually be able to feel the nail root move with their middle finger.

Explain to students that this is the nail root and is part of the Integumentary System. Next, define the anatomy of the nail as listed below.

  • Nail body – The part of the fingernail that is the largest and most exposed. This is usually the part that girls paint.
  • Nail root – The base of the nail where the nail actually begins to grow. Located under the skin behind the cuticle.
  • Cuticle – The fold of skin that hides the nail roots. Also the last piece of skin before the lunula.
  • Lunula – The whitish half-moon shape located at the base of the nail.
  • Nail bed – Located under the nail body.

The purpose of this simple activity is to demonstrate that every organ, even an accessory organ has its own anatomy. This is important for students to understand before moving on to the next portion of the lesson plan, which will discuss the anatomy of the skin.

Skin Anatomy Terms

Ask students to look up the terms listed below. Students should list the definition of the terms as well as their function. The location of the term is already listed below for them. Teachers may either provide this information for them or ask them to find it on their own.


  • hair shaft
  • free nerve endings


  • sensory receptor
  • hair follicle
  • oil gland
  • arrector pill muscle
  • sweat gland
  • hair root
  • capillaries
  • melanocytes

Subcutaneous layer

  • adipose tissue
  • nerve
  • artery


  • Student teaching experience.

This post is part of the series: Back to School Science with Skin

These are back to school science lesson plans meant to ease students back into learning by using interesting summer topics to reintroduce science into their lives.
  1. What is Skin? Elementary Lesson Plan
  2. What is the Integumentary System?
  3. Skin Regions Lesson Plan
  4. An Anatomy Lesson Plan on Skin