How Many Bones Can You Count?

Have students count their bones, draw the structure of their skeletons, and compare the results with other students and encyclopedias.
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Lesson (926)

Activity (2,892)



  • Students will count and draw the bones in their bodies, comparing results with each other and with encyclopedias entries.
  • Students will work on the following skills:
    • Observing
    • Inferring
    • Classifying
    • Measuring
    • Predicting
    • Communicating
    • Researching

Materials Needed

  • Paper and pencil
  • Encyclopedia or other appropriate reference books


  1. Ask the students to feel the bones in the fingers of one hand with their other hand.
  2. Have them count the bones and record the number of bones they counted in their hand.
  3. Tell them to continue counting the bones in their wrist up to their shoulder and write down that number.
  4. Direct them to begin with their toes and count all the bones they can find in their foot, leg, back, and so on. As they count have them record the numbers.
  5. Using this procedure, have them count the bones in their entire body and record their findings.
  6. Instruct the students to draw a picture of the human skeleton, showing the bones they found.
  7. Encourage them to compare notes and drawings with others in their group. If their numbers differ for some parts of the body, have them count again and try to determine where the differences occurred.
  8. When they have counted and drawn all the bones they could find in their bodies, have them go to the encyclopedia and see if they can find out how many bones are in the human skeleton.
  9. Ask them if their count was accurate, and have them identify the bones they missed, if any.


  • Ask the students which of their bones are similar to those of a cat or dog, a bird, or other animals. Ask them to decide how they can find out, and have them study the answer to the question for the animals of their choice. Encourage them to share the information with their group.

Teacher Information

  • The human body has at least 206 bones. A textbook that has this information could be substituted for the encyclopedia suggested in the materials list. The process of counting andsearching the text or encyclopedia will provide a worthwhile and interesting research experience for students.
  • Lower grades can count, talk about, compare, and draw the bones they think they feel.The use of reference books can be eliminated for students who are not able to use them.

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