Friday, July 30, 2010

Biology for Kids

I love 'The Magic School Bus' books.  We are not ready for the chapter books, so I don't know how good they are. But we love the picture books.

We found a copy of 'The Magic School Bus, Inside Ralphie, A Book About Germs' a few years ago and we read it over and over as you do with young children.

I had no idea how good that was going to be for us.  I was just learning about nutrition and the body and how it all worked together.  And the visual of what is going on inside a body when it's sick was really good for me.  And I played off it when the kids got sick or just didn't feel well.  And for the last 2 years, I've been doing that and only recently have come to appreciate how much it has helped us to visualize and understand the body.

My kids are 5 and 7 and their knowledge and understanding of biology is impressive already!  They know more of what is going on inside their bodies then most adults.

Now, I don't nearly understand it all, or even a decent percentage I'm sure.  But what I have learned over the years, I have translated into 'kid talk' and discussed it with the kids.  Much of it in relation to what we learned and saw in the Ralphie book.  It's fun to see it more cumulatively.

I also bought DK's Encyclopedia of the Human Body.  And we refer to that whenever the kids are interested in something going on inside of them.  Yesterday Samuel was showing us his rib cage (I swear I feed the boy!) and so we got out the Human Body Encyclopedia and read about our rib cages and what they do and how they are formed.  Which, of course, led to looking at other pictures about red blood cells and DNA and germs and vaccines.  It was great!  I learned as much as he did!  

The biology talk started out more as a way to get the kids to not want to eat junk. And I felt guilty at first. But the more I came to see the real connection between what we put into our bodies and how they feel, I became more confident in talking about it with the kids.

We started out mostly talking about the 'good guys' verse the 'bad guys'.  At 3 and 5, that was about perfect for them.  They ate junk and I explained to them that the food they were eating was feeding the bad guys in them, but killing the good guys. To my surprise, the kids were fascinated by the concept.  And it got so that every time they ate, they'd ask if they were feeding the good or the bad guys.  And when they got sick, I'd talk about what they had eaten that might have fed the bad guys.  My son loves to get graphic with swords and guns and bad guys falling left and right and the good guys doing heroic deeds. It's cute. 

As I have learned and expanded my knowledge, I have been able to do the same with them.  Even going into more detail as to why sugar and refined foods feed the bad guys.  When we eat broth, meats, fats, veggies, raw milk, yogurt, kefir, eggs, etc. they know that the food they are eating is giving the 'good guys' strength so they can fight the bad guys.  But when they eat the processed foods, it feeds the bad guys who then get stronger.  Some foods seem to feed both, like soaked grains, fruits and some sweeteners.  

They understand the concept of fats and how they are necessary to take all of the vitamins and minerals to the cells in their bodies.  We talk about how people have been told things that are not true and how it has hurt so many people. 

We talk about how our foods are supposed to be full of vitamins and minerals, but instead are full of chemicals, because farmers don't farm the way God intended.  They have a pretty good idea of what minerals are (ground rocks), and how things like broth, celtic salt, molasses and bitters are full of minerals that we don't get enough of. 

We often discuss why we eat yogurt and eat kombucha, kefir and fermented veggies.  They understand that guts have bacteria in them and some is good, some is bad.  And most of us have messed up guts, so they can't break down the food as well.  And eating foods high in enzymes helps their bellies to break the food down and send it where it belongs.

Sometimes my husband thinks I'm a bit nuts for going into the detail I do, but it helps me understand it better.  And I love watching the kids 'get it'. It's so fun!  I love that I am building a foundation for the kids as they get older.  If they make bad choices in their food, they will be fully aware of the consequences they will have to face.  Which, for me, makes it easier to make good choices.

And, of course, as they get into the higher sciences, they will understand it so much better, as it will make sense to them.

Plus, I can rectify any bad biology in books and videos by explaining that they don't really understand some parts of it, and then going into details of how I believe it actually is. :)

A few weeks ago, we were at the beach (we love the Jersey Shore!), and the kids were eating cookies and other 'junk' that we don't keep around ourselves.  I warned them that they were still going to have to behave themselves the next few days, no matter how hard it was.  And it could make them sick.  But I allowed them to choose.  Well, Myia ended up with a painful ear ache before we left for home and she was crying and miserable.  It was no fun for her, but it was a great biology lesson!  I explained that her body was already fighting a minor cold and the affects of a bad sunburn from the week before.  And then she goes and eats the junk, and her 'bad guys' won out because of it.  It may have been more complicated then that, but it was a great lesson.  And hopefully helpful in making her want to make good food choices.  :)

I look forward to better understanding the body and passing that info on to my kids.  One more tool in my mansion building toolbox.

Who knew that Deuteronomy 6 is the best way to teach kids biology as well?  We talk about our bodies (and always in awe of God creating them with a word) when we sit, walk and lie down.   

Deuteronomy 6:6-7   These commandments that I give you today are to be upon your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.

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