Respiratory System Lesson Plans

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The Respiratory System

Begin this lesson plan by providing the students with a brief description of the respiratory system as provided below.

The body needs oxygen to survive. The respiratory system provides this oxygen to the body through breathing and using our lungs. Humans can only breathe air, while other species derive their oxygen from air, water, or both.

Record the results of the following activity and place them in the “time capsule.”

Respiratory System Activity

This activity demonstrates lung capacity. To complete this activity, you will need the materials listed below:

  • Empty aquarium
  • 3 flat items such as rocks
  • 20 inches of rubber tubing per student
  • Permanent marker
  • 1 gallon glass jar
  • 1 quart glass jar
  • Ruler


  1. Fill the gallon jar with water using the quart jar. Make a mark on the gallon jar to indicate the quart line each time you put a quart in.
  2. Fill the aquarium about 3/4 full.
  3. Place the rocks on the bottom of the aquarium so that the gallon jar will be able to rest on top of them.
  4. Turn the gallon jar over and set it open end down on the flat rocks. It’s okay if some water spills out.
  5. Make a mark on the gallon jug to show where the water level is outside the jar in the aquarium.
  6. Place one end of the tube in the gallon jar and allow the other end to hang outside of the aquarium.
  7. Ask a student to blow in the tube and measure where the water level rises to by marking it with the marker. Measure the distance between the two lines. Record student’s lung capacity.
  8. Repeat the steps 6-8 for each student.

Explain to students that this is a way of measuring lung capacity. Exercise of the respiratory system can increase this capacity. Ask students to place their measurements in their time capsules. You will repeat this experiment in the winter, and at the end of the school year to see if there were any changes in lung capacity.

This post is part of the series: Back to School Science: Build a Time Capsule

This series was created so students could see the changes they go through in one school year. This is a fun back to school science lesson plan series that students and teachers alike will enjoy!

  1. Back to School Lesson: Track How Your Students Change Throughout the Year
  2. Measuring Growth in the Human Skeleton
  3. A Muscular System Lesson
  4. Measuring Human Growth and Development
  5. Measuring Lung Performance in Your Students