Photograph of jigsaw puzzle pieces.

CareerStart lessons: Grade seven


LEARN NC is no longer supported by the UNC School of Education and has been permanently archived. On February 1st, 2018, you will only be able to access these resources through the Internet Archive’s Wayback Machine. We recommend that you print or download resources you may need before February 1st, 2018, after which, you will have to follow these instructions in order to access those resources.

Learning outcomes

Students will gain an understanding of how muscles and bones work together.

Teacher preparation

Time required for lesson

Two class periods (45-55 minutes each)

Materials needed

  • Sheets of butcher paper long enough for one student to lie down — enough for two sheets per group of 3-4 students
  • Markers
  • “Making Muscles Move” handout — one copy for each student
  • Two 2″x 6″ cardboard strips for each group (cereal boxes work well for this)
  • Two paper fasteners for each group
  • Tape
  • Hole puncher
  • One red balloon and one blue balloon for each group (any two different colors will work)


  1. Divide the class into groups of 3 to 4.
  2. Have one student in each group lie on the butcher paper and have the other students in the group trace the outline of the student’s body.
  3. Ask the students to draw the skeleton in the outline of the body. Instruct students to label the bones that they draw in. (You may decide to let the students use a visual aid such as a diagram or skeleton model, or you may ask the students to work from their own knowledge. If you have the students work from their own knowledge, prepare a class version students can use to compare with their work.)
  4. Ask students what holds bones together and helps them move.
  5. At the beginning of the second class period, introduce the “Making Muscles Move” activity and distribute the student handouts. Guide students through the activity, in which students use cardboard and balloons to make models of their arm muscles. Students then do a series of stretches and try to determine which muscles are being stretched.
  6. After students have completed this activity, ask them what careers would need to learn about bones and muscles. (Answers may include radiologists, fitness instructors, recreational therapists, radiation therapists, physicians, coroners, etc.)


Optional resources for more information on the topics covered in this lesson

The Virtual Body
In both English and Spanish, students can tour the human skeleton and learn about its function, build a skeleton, and get more details on bones.
Your Muscular System
This FAQ page about the muscular system gives students basic information about what muscles do.
Human Body Maps — Interactive Online Tool offers this website that allows students to mouse-over body areas, look inside different areas of the body, and rotate the body for a 360 degree view.
NASA: Why Do Workouts Work?
Because muscles atrophy in space, it is important for NASA scientists to explore how and why exercise causes muscles to grow to help astronauts.
Careers in Orthopaedics
The American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons provides information about the scope of orthopaedics, educational requirements, and options for practice.

North Carolina curriculum alignment

Science (2005)

Grade 7

  • Goal 4: The learner will conduct investigations, use models, simulations, and appropriate technologies and information systems to build an understanding of the complementary nature of the human body system.
    • Objective 4.01: Analyze how human body systems interact to provide for the needs of the human organism:
      • Musculoskeletal.
      • Cardiovascular.
      • Endocrine and Nervous.
      • Digestive and Circulatory.
      • Excretory.
      • Reproductive.
      • Respiratory.
      • Immune.
      • Nervous system.
    • Objective 4.02: Describe how systems within the human body are defined by the functions it performs.

  • North Carolina Essential Standards
    • Science (2010)
      • Grade 7

        • 7.L.1 Understand the processes, structures and functions of living organisms that enable them to survive, reproduce and carry out the basic functions of life. 7.L.1.1 Compare the structures and life functions of single-celled organisms that carry out all of...