Putting Mr Bones together

I broke a bone in my foot recently and, as a result of having an x-ray and spending a lot of time stopping my sons standing on the broken bone, my son has taken an interest in bones and x-rays.  We've previously played with pretend x-rays and soft toys, but I thought we could do something to learn a bit more about the whole skeleton, in addition to watching the x-ray episode of Maddie Moate's 'Do You Know'.

Pieces of Mr Bones

I could have drawn a skeleton for this activity, but Twinkl are currently offering a month's free subscription due to the coronavirus pandemic so I saved time and effort and printed off their file for a large paper skeleton and cut out bones.  It's somewhat simplified (including the feet, so the actual bone I've broken isn't obvious) but groups of bones are together so it makes a nice puzzle to put together without having 200+ pieces.

Fixing Mr Bones' neck

I told my son that there had been an unfortunate accident involving Mr Bones, the skeleton, and he needed our help to put him back together.  My son was keen to help once he saw Mr Bones' pieces, and immediately picked out (and correctly named) the skull.  He then wasn't sure what to do next, although he thought the head and the bit I explained was called the rib cage fitted together somehow.  We found the neck together and joined the rib cage to the skull.  He then wanted to put the hands on, but we needed to work out which were arm bones and which were leg bones.  We talked about whether arms or legs were longer and he decided my leg bones must be longer than my arm bones.  He also wasn't sure what the kneecap (patella, although I called it a kneecap as it's easier to remember and he's got plenty of time to learn the correct anatomical names when he's older) was on a couple of the long bones, so I explained that, and he felt his own - it seemed to be the first time he'd realised there was a bone there in his leg (I'm painfully familiar with it, having dislocated mine a couple of times as a teenager...).

Putting the hips together

I helped him put the arm bones in the right order (humerus is the single one at the top and the radius and ulna together form the lower arm) and he placed the hands.  I didn't attempt to teach him the names for these bones.  We then went back and found the collarbones (clavicles) and shoulder blades (scapulas) and he had a poke at my collarbone and shoulder blade to feel where they go.  We talked about how bones are hard and give our body shape, but we have joints where they meet which mean our bodies can move, for example at the elbow or shoulder.

We then moved onto Mr Bones' lower body.  He wasn't quite sure about the butterfly-shaped bone, and I explained that it was called his pelvis and he poked his hips to check whether it seemed the right shape.  He thought it should be connected to the rest of Mr Bones and tried to use one of the leg bones for the purpose then decided it wasn't right.  I helped him position the spine, and we discussed how it's the bone he can feel up his back (and indeed which we sing about in a rhyme about shivers up his spine).  He then put the upper leg bones (femurs) in the right place and added the lower legs (tibias and fibulas).  He put the feet on the wrong way round, decided they didn't look right and swapped them over.

The complete skeleton
He seemed very happy to have fixed Mr Bones and decided he wanted him stuck together so he could put him on his bedroom wall (along with the planets and constellation pictures we've made together previously).  We glued him together and I lay the skeleton on the floor so my son could lie next to him and find out who was tallest (my son, but not by much).  I observed that Mr Bones has a much smaller head than my son, and we talked briefly about how children have large heads compared to their other bones and Mr Bones must therefore be a small adult skeleton - my son had a close look at his 1 year old brother's head compared to the length of his legs and decided that he did indeed have a proportionately large head compared to me! He asked again later about having him on the wall in his room, so stuck him on his wardrobe door where there was space, and now he affectionately talks to him whenever he goes in his room!