This lesson on the heart was adapted from “How to Teach Nutrition to Kids” by Connie Liakos Evers, MS, RD.
* A healthy heart is a beating heart, but how many beats per minute? Have children take their pulse at rest and record. Then have them jump rope or run in place for 1-2 minutes, checking pulse immediately after they finish. What happens to the pulse rate?
* Ask students to keep a pulse rate chart, noting how their heart rate responds to different situations like waking up, after eating, when scared, before bed, during active play or exercise.
* Assign math problems that use their pulse data. How many times does the heart beat each day, week, month, etc.? Does the resting pulse vary between children in the class? Between boys and girls? Plot the results or show graphically.
* Will a heart made strong through regular exercise beat faster or slower at rest? (The resting heart beats slower because a strong heart can pump more blood with fewer beats. Many endurance athletes have resting pulse rates as low as 40 beats per minute.