Learning about the body in primary school

Anatomy for kids
At primary school children learn about the senses, the human skeleton, teeth and their function, the digestive system, puberty, the circulatory system and more. Find out what they'll be discussing in the classroom when and how you can support their learning at home.

What are children taught about the human body in primary school?

Humans are a type of animal (a mammal).

In primary school children learn about:

When are children taught about the body?

In Year 1 children will learn to identify and name basic body parts. They will explore the different senses.

Year 2 children learn about the importance of exercise and a healthy balanced diet. They also discuss personal hygiene (washing their hands, cleaning their teeth, etc.).

In Year 3 children are taught about the skeleton. The human skeleton is made up of over 200 bones. Your skeleton helps to hold you together and protect the rest of your body. 

In Year 4 children will learn about teeth and the digestive system. Human beings have two sets of teeth, milk teeth and adult teeth. There are four different types of teeth: molars, pre-molars, canines and incisors. A tooth is made up of different parts; enamel, dentin, pulp, root and crown. Digestion is how your body breaks down and processes food that you eat.

In Year 5 children learn about puberty and how the human body develops over time, including the changes children experience during puberty.

Year 6 children learn about the circulatory system and revisit the importance of exercise and healthy eating. As part of their study of the circulatory system they learn how the heart works and blood travels around the body. The heart is a muscle that pumps blood around your body; blood carries oxygen and nutrients to your brain and organs.

How are children taught about the body?

Children will learn about basic human anatomy and physiology though a wide range of activities.

  • They will draw and label diagrams of body parts, skeletons, teeth, digestive systems and circulatory systems and timelines of the human body.
  • Children will see videos, diagrams and models of the human body.
  • They will use their senses to compare and contrast tastes, sounds, smells and textures.
  • Schools may invite guest speakers such as doctors, dentists and nurses in to speak to the children.
  • Books and the internet will be used to research the different topics associated with the human body.
  • Children may plan and carry out scientific investigations to ask questions about the impact of exercise on their body and measure their heart rate or pulse. They will take part in physical education lessons and swimming lessons.
  • They may be asked to produce posters about personal hygiene such as washing hands and cleaning teeth.
  • When learning about healthy eating children may play interactive computer games to sort foods, plan a healthy meal or lunchbox, take part in cookery lessons, grow vegetables, compare and contrast information on food packaging and visit a supermarket.

Understanding-the-body activities to do at home:

  • Visit the library and look for books about the human body
  • Discuss how to care for your teeth with your child (and visit the dentist!)
  • With young children, sing songs about body parts.
  • Discuss puberty and changes to the human body with your child (read out guide to talking to your child about sex and relationships for useful pointers)
  • Enjoy exercise and sports together: go swimming, kick a ball at the park, go on a bike ride, dance to music or go for a walk
  • Discuss food and what makes a balanced diet; cook and grow food together
  • Look at the information on food packaging

TheSchoolRun offers worksheets and activity ideas for all the human body topics taught at primary school. Look through our human body worksheets to find year-group-appropriate ones for your child.

Children's books about the human body