When I published “From Chewing to Pooing: Food’s Journey Through Your Body to the Potty” about a year ago, I had no idea it would bring me into so many classrooms throughout California’s Bay Area. Since my primary motivation for writing the book was to help ease anxiety many little ones experience with going potty, the opportunity to expose children to science has been an unexpected surprise.
After offering a simple explanation of digestion to my chronically constipated child, I saw a significant reduction in anxiety and withholding. I was eager to share this information with other little ones experiencing bathroom anxiety, hoping it would ease their symptoms as well. However, a year’s worth of classroom visits taught me that virtually all kids are thirsty for knowledge about what’s going on inside their bodies, bathroom anxiety or not. I am thrilled the book has been embraced as an educational tool by teachers and students alike.
My first ever classroom read aloud was for my then 4 year old’s pre-school class. The delivery was stiff at best, but I was overjoyed when the book prompted giggles (at the intentionally silly parts, no-less!) and elated by the lengthy discussion that followed. In-depth conversation and many questions have followed every read aloud since.
Each time kids laugh during readings, and eagerly ask questions after, feels like a huge victory. It was crucial to me that the book convey details of digestion in a light-hearted, non-intimidating fashion. The digestive system can be a sterile, clinical topic for anyone and the last thing I want to do is make little ones feel uncomfortable or even bored while learning about their bodies.
Since that first read aloud, I have read to groups of kids as small as 4 and as large as 50, with ages ranging from 18 months to second graders. Settings have included: in-home daycare; many preschools; library story time; children’s museum; a sprawling book festival and a elementary school. While no two reading are the same, I have been blown away by the sustained attention, thoughtful questions, and excitement for the topic experienced at each and every reading. It has been such a joy to share the book with little ones. There is something so special about watching kids make connections and learn more about themselves in real-time, before my very eyes.
Young children are surrounded by so much they don’t yet understand, empowering them with knowledge about their bodies (their very selves) seems like an important place to start. Little ones’ emerging body awareness fuels a natural curiosity that lends itself so well to discussions about biology. The body is a tangible, non-abstract topic perfectly suited for an early introduction to science. In addition to leveraging children’s inherent self-interest to introduce human biology, it’s my hope that fostering an early appreciation for their bodies sets the groundwork for a wide range of healthy choices down the road.
Lesson’s to explore with this printable.
Colour in the Espohagus.
Draw a line through the digestive system from mouth to bottom.
Colour in the Stomach and point to your own stomach.
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