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The Digestive System

Teacher Guide by Oliver Smith

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Student Activities for The Digestive System Include:

Digestion is the process by which the food we eat is broken down into useable nutrients in the body. We need these nutrients to carry out the essential functions of the body. Carbohydrates are broken down into sugars which can be used in respiration. Proteins are broken into amino acids which can be used for growth and repair in our bodies. The digestive system has a number of different well adapted parts that work together to take food from bite-size to useful molecules that your body can use.

By the end of this lesson your students will create amazing storyboards like the ones below!




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The digestive system has evolved to be a very efficient way to remove nutrients we need from the food and drink we consume. The alimentary canal is the passage that food takes from beginning to end. Food is broken down with the help of digestive enzymes in the body, providing fuel and nutrients that we need to live.

Enzymes are biological catalysts that are used in the body to speed up biological processes, like digestion. Different digestive enzymes work to break down different nutrients and pH and temperature affect how well enzymes work in the gut. Carbohydrates are broken down into more simple sugars using digestive enzymes such as carbohydrase and amylase. These simple sugars can then be used in respiration to give the body energy. Proteins are broken down into amino acids using digestive enzymes like protease. The amino acids can be used to make new proteins in the body. Fats and oils (also known as lipids) are broken down by enzymes, such as lipase, into glycerol and fatty acids.

Food enters the alimentary canal through the mouth where our food is chewed and mixed with saliva produced in our salivary glands. We have different shaped teeth that do different jobs in mechanically digesting our food. The incisors are used for biting and tearing food. The canines are there to hold and cut food. Premolar and molars are using for crushing and chewing food. As food is chewed, it is broken down into smaller pieces. Saliva contains a digestive enzyme that helps break down the food even more. Enzymes are a biological catalyst which work to speed up the rate by which food is broken down. The food then forms a ball called a bolus.

The bolus then moves through the esophagus (also known as the gullet) which is a fibromuscular tube which connects the mouth to the stomach. It sits behind the trachea and heart. It moves food down from the mouth to the stomach through a process known as peristalsis. Peristalsis is the involuntary contraction and relaxation of muscles along the canal which pushes the food through with wave like movements. Peristalsis also helps food move through your intestines

The food then passes from the esophagus through a muscular valve called called the esophageal sphincter. The stomach is a muscular sack of tissue where the partially digested food is mixed with gastric juice. This is made up of stomach acid which helps the food break down and also helps kills bacteria. As the food is broken down in the stomach, it produces a thick liquid called chyme. The chyme then passes through the pyloric sphincter into the small intestine.

The small intestine is made up of three parts known as the duodenum, the jejunum, and the ileum. In the small intestine, food is mixed with digestive enzymes and bile. Bile is produced in the liver and stored in the gallbladder. Bile helps emulsify lipids (fats and oils). This breaks down the large fat droplets into smaller droplets which provide a larger surface area for the enzyme lipase to break the lipids down. Bile also neutralizes some of the stomach acid. This increase in pH will provide a better environment for the enzymes to function.The small intestine is also where digested nutrients are passed into the bloodstream. This absorption mainly happens in the ileum which is the longest part of the small intestine. There are finger-like structures in the intestines called villi, which are there to increase the surface areas of the intestines. This increase in surface area means nutrients are passed into the bloodstream more efficiently by having a larger area for absorption.

The large intestine is shorter and wider than the small intestine and is made up of two parts: the colon and the rectum. In the large intestine, water is reabsorbed and feces are stored in the rectum. Feces are then ultimately passed through the anus, leaving the alimentary canal. When stretched out, the alimentary canal can be 10m in length!


Essential Questions for The Digestive System

  1. What does it mean to digest food?
  2. How is food digested?
  3. What role do digestive enzymes play in digestion?
  4. How is the body adapted for digestion?

The Digestive System Lesson Plans, Student Activities and Graphic Organizers

The Structure of the Digestive System


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In this activity students will produce a labeled model of the digestive system. Students will them add information to the diagram to describe what happens at each stage.


Digestive System Diagram Example

StageDescription
MouthFood enters the alimentary canal through the mouth. It is chewed by teeth which break food down into smaller pieces. The food is mixed with saliva that contains enzymes.
EsophagusThe fibromuscular tube connecting the mouth to the stomach is called the esophagus. Food is pushed down using a wave like muscular motion called peristalsis.
StomachThe stomach is the muscular organ where food is mixed with gastric juices. Gastric juice has a low pH, meaning it is acidic, and is used to help digest food and kill potentially harmful bacteria.
LiverIn the digestive system, the liver produces bile which helps with the digestion of fats and oils.
Gall BladderThe gallbladder is where bile is stored and concentrated.
PancreasThe pancreas is where biological catalysts called enzymes are produced. Digestive enzymes speed up the breaking down of large nutrient molecules.
Small IntestinesThe small intestines are made up of three parts: the duodenum, the jejunum, and the ileum. Here, food is mixed with digestive enzymes and bile. The enzymes speed up the digestion process. Nutrients are then absorbed into the bloodstream.
Large IntestinesThe large intestines are made up of two parts: the colon and the rectum. In the colon, water is reabsorbed from the food. Feces are stored in the rectum until they are ready to be passed.
AnusFeces leave the alimentary canal through the anus.
Digestive System

Example

(These instructions are completely customizable. After clicking "Copy Assignment", change the description of the assignment in your Dashboard.)


Student Instructions

You are going to produce a labeled model of the digestive system. You will identify the main parts and describe their function.


  1. Click "Use this Template" from the assignment.
  2. Search for "digestive system". Pull down the diagram into the cell.
  3. Label the parts of the digestive system using Textables and arrows.
  4. Describe the function of the different parts of the digestive system.
  5. Save and submit the assignment. Make sure to use the drop-down menu to save it under the assignment title.


Large Single Cell Diagram

Example

(Modify this basic rubric by clicking the link below. You can also create your own on Quick Rubric.)





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Vocabulary for The Digestive System


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Have your students put key vocabulary into practice. One of the things students can find really difficult is using scientific vocabulary correctly and in the appropriate context. Using a visual representation or visual examples as well as a written one can really help students understand abstract concepts.


Example Energy Resources Vocabulary


Villi

Villi are finger-like structures that can be found in the intestines that increase the surface area, and therefore, increase absorption.


Enzymes

Enzymes are biological catalysts, soluble protein molecules that speed up chemical reactions in the body.


Stomach Acid

Acid secreted into the stomach which aids digestion and kills bacteria is referred to as stomach acid. It normally has a pH between 1.5 and 3.5.


Digestion

Digestion is the process of breaking food down into molecules using both mechanical processes and chemical enzymes that will be used by the body.


Saliva

Saliva is a liquid produced in the salivary glands that contains enzymes to start food digestion in the mouth.


Other terms include:

  • absorption
  • alimentary canal
  • appendix
  • balanced diet
  • blood
  • body
  • bolus
  • calcium
  • carbohydrates
  • chewing
  • diet
  • digestion
  • energy
  • excretion
  • feces
  • fat
  • fibre
  • glucose
  • healthy
  • hydrochloric acid
  • intestine
  • lipids
  • molecules
  • mouth
  • nutrition
  • proteins
  • small intestine
  • soluble
  • starch
  • stomach
  • sugar
  • surface area
  • teeth
  • vitamins
  • water
Digestive System Vocabulary

Example

(These instructions are completely customizable. After clicking "Copy Assignment", change the description of the assignment in your Dashboard.)


Student Instructions

Demonstrate your understanding of key scientific vocabulary by creating visualizations.

  1. Choose five vocabulary words and type them in the title boxes.
  2. Find the definition in a print or online dictionary and write it under the cell.
  3. Illustrate the meaning of the word in the cell using a combination of scenes, characters, and items.
    • Alternatively, use Photos for Class to give examples of the words.
  4. Save and submit your storyboard. Make sure to use the drop-down menu to save it under the assignment title.


(Modify this basic rubric by clicking the link below. You can also create your own on Quick Rubric.)





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The Digestive System Discussion Storyboard


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Discussion storyboards are a great way to get your students talking about their ideas in Science. They allow students to critique and evaluate different viewpoints without upsetting other students. This activity can be used at the start of the topic to elicit any misconceptions students may have.

At first, show students a discussion storyboard like the one below. Ask them to look at the problem on the discussion storyboard. It shows four students who all have an idea about the problem in front of them. Students should think about who they think is the most correct and be prepared to explain why that person is correct.

Here are some other ideas to use these discussion storyboards in your lessons.

  1. Students add another cell on the end of the example you’ve given them to explain who they think is correct and why.
  2. Students create their own discussion storyboards to share with peers on the current topic.

Note that the template in this assignment is blank. After clicking "Copy Assignment", add your desired problem and solutions to match the needs of your students.
Discussion Storyboard - MS - Digestion

Example

(These instructions are completely customizable. After clicking "Copy Assignment", change the description of the assignment in your Dashboard.)


Student Instructions

Read the discussion storyboard that shows four students who all have an idea about the problem in front of them. You are going to give your opinion on who you think is correct and explain why.


  1. Click "Use this Template" from the assignment.
  2. Add another cell at the end of the row.
  3. Use text and images to explain who you think is correct and why.
  4. Save and submit the assignment. Make sure to use the drop-down menu to save it under the assignment title.


Discussion Storyboard - Blank

Example

(Modify this basic rubric by clicking the link below. You can also create your own on Quick Rubric.)





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Digestive Enzymes


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Storyboard That is a great and easy way to produce clear and accurate diagrams representing abstract scientific processes and ideas, requiring students to use creativity to create their diagrams. Students can represent the digestive enzymes and macronutrients using shapes that can easily be copied and manipulated.

Enzymes are biological catalysts that accelerate digestion. Digestion is the process by which food is broken down into useable molecules. Carbohydrates are broken down into simple sugars by digestive enzymes called carbohydrase or amylase. The long chain molecules are broken down into simple sugars.Protease is the enzyme which accelerates the digestion of proteins. Proteins are broken down into amino acids. Fats and oils, also known as lipids, are broken down into glycerol and fatty acids by enzymes such as lipase.

To challenge your more able students you could get students to describe the function of each nutrient.

Digestion

Example

(These instructions are completely customizable. After clicking "Copy Assignment", change the description of the assignment in your Dashboard.)


Student Instructions

You are going to describe how three different macronutrients are broken down using shapes on Storyboard That.


  1. Click "Use this Template" from the assignment.
  2. Use shapes and arrows to show how different nutrients are broken down into smaller molecules. Remember, you can select multiple objects by holding Shift or by highlighting a large area.
  3. Make sure to include the name of the macronutrient, the name of the enzyme, and the products after digestion.
  4. In the description box, write a sentence or two that describes the process.
  5. Save and submit the assignment. Make sure to use the drop-down menu to save it under the assignment title.


Blank Cell with Title-Description

Example

(Modify this basic rubric by clicking the link below. You can also create your own on Quick Rubric.)





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Digestion Storyboard


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Get your students to show off their creativity by making a narrative storyboard telling the story of how food is digested.

Alternatively, cut up the individual cells in the example storyboard and have students put them in order. Another option would be to give students the text and have them create the illustrations using Storyboard That.

Digestive System Example Narrative

Food enters the alimentary canal through the mouth. In the mouth food is mixed with saliva and chewed. Saliva contains enzymes which starts to break the food down.

The partially digested food known, as a bolus, passes through a tube called the esophagus. It is moved using a muscular wave-like motion called peristalsis.

The bolus then enters the stomach. In the stomach, the bolus is mixed gastric juices to make a thick liquid called chyme.

From the stomach, it then passes into the small intestines. In the small intestines, the chyme is mixed with enzymes to help further break down the food. As the food moves along the small intestines, some of the nutrients are absorbed into the blood.

After the small intestines, the bolus moves to the large intestines. In the large intestines, water is reabsorbed into the body from the bolus. Any food that cannot be digested is known as feces.

The undigested matter then leaves the alimentary canal through the anus.

Digestion Narrative

Example

(These instructions are completely customizable. After clicking "Copy Assignment", change the description of the assignment in your Dashboard.)


Student Instructions

Demonstrate your understanding of the the digestive by creating a narrative storyboard. Tell the story of a piece of food as it travels through the alimentary canal. Make sure you include all the different stages from the mouth the anus. You should use a series of scenes, shapes, objects and Textables to tell your story.


  1. Click "Use this Template" from the assignment.
  2. Create your narrative storyboard. Add cells as needed.
  3. Save and submit the assignment. Make sure to use the drop-down menu to save it under the assignment title.


Blank Cell with Description

Example

(Modify this basic rubric by clicking the link below. You can also create your own on Quick Rubric.)





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Parts of the Digestive System


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An alternative to the "Structure of the Digestive System" activity would be to have separate cells for each part of the digestive system, rather than one large diagram. Have your students bring together their ideas about the digestive system using this spider map.


Digestive System Diagram Example

StageDescription
MouthFood enters the alimentary canal through the mouth. It is chewed by teeth which break food down into smaller pieces. The food is mixed with saliva that contains enzymes.
EsophagusThe fibromuscular tube connecting the mouth to the stomach is called the esophagus. Food is pushed down using a wave like muscular motion called peristalsis.
StomachThe stomach is the muscular organ where food is mixed with gastric juices. Gastric juice has a low pH, meaning it is acidic, and is used to help digest food and kill potentially harmful bacteria.
Small IntestinesThe small intestines are made up of three parts: the duodenum, the jejunum, and the ilium. Here, food is mixed with enzymes and bile. The enzymes speed up the digestion process. Nutrients are then absorbed into the bloodstream.
Large IntestinesThe large intestines are made up of two parts: the colon and the rectum. In the colon, water is reabsorbed from the food. Feces are stored in the rectum until they are ready to be passed.
AnusFeces leave the alimentary canal through the anus.
The Digestive System

Example

(These instructions are completely customizable. After clicking "Copy Assignment", change the description of the assignment in your Dashboard.)


Student Instructions

In this activity you are going to create a spider map to identify and describe the different organs in the digestive system.

    Click "Use this Template" from the assignment.
  1. Search for "digestive system". Pull down the digestive system diagram into each cell.
  2. Type the name of organs into the title boxes: Mouth, Esophagus, Stomach, Small Intestines, Large Intestines, and Anus.
  3. Identify the parts of the digestive system. Each cell should have one part of the diagram colored a different color than the rest, matching the title box.
  4. Write the function of the of the part of the digestive system below the illustration.
  5. Save and submit the assignment. Make sure to use the drop-down menu to save it under the assignment title.


  6. Blank Cell with Description

    Example

(Modify this basic rubric by clicking the link below. You can also create your own on Quick Rubric.)





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Other Lesson Plan Ideas for the Digestive System

  1. Design a ‘digestion machine’ on Storyboard That. They should label their design and say how it is similar to the real life digestive system.
  2. Compare the human digestive system to the digestive system of another animal using a T-Chart.
  3. Create a timeline storyboard describing the major scientific discoveries of how the digestive system works.

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•   (English) The Digestive System   •   (Español) El Sistema Digestivo   •   (Français) Le Système Digestif   •   (Deutsch) Das Verdauungssystem   •   (Italiana) Il Sistema Digerente   •   (Nederlands) Het Spijsverteringsstelsel   •   (Português) O Sistema Digestivo   •   (עברית) מערכת העיכול   •   (العَرَبِيَّة) الجهاز الهضمي   •   (हिन्दी) पाचन तंत्र   •   (ру́сский язы́к) Пищеварительная Система   •   (Dansk) Fordøjelsessystemet   •   (Svenska) Matsmältningssystemet   •   (Suomi) Ruoansulatusjärjestelmä   •   (Norsk) Fordøyelsessystemet   •   (Türkçe) Sindirim Sistemi   •   (Polski) Układ Trawienny   •   (Româna) Sistemul Digestiv   •   (Ceština) Trávicí Systém   •   (Slovenský) Tráviaci Systém   •   (Magyar) Az Emésztőrendszer   •   (Hrvatski) Probavni Sustav   •   (български) Храносмилателната Система   •   (Lietuvos) Virškinimo Sistema   •   (Slovenščina) Prebavni Sistem   •   (Latvijas) Gremošanas Sistēma   •   (eesti) Seedetrakt