Coming from a family of educators, Brad knows both the joys and challenges of teaching well. Through teaching experience of his own, he’s experienced both firsthand. As a writer for AES, Brad’s goal is to help teachers empower their students through listening to educators’ concerns and creating content that answers their most pressing questions about career and technical education.
Anatomy and physiology can be one of the most challenging topics to teach in CTE health science classes. Between having students learn body systems, memorize tricky terminology, and prepare for exams, your course can quickly become dull and cumbersome.
Thankfully, there are many fun anatomy and physiology games you can play to keep your students excited and engaged. Games provide a break from lectures and can make it easy for students to master the terms they’ll need to know to work in healthcare.
In this article, you’ll find five anatomy and physiology games for your CTE health science classes:
Do the Hokey Pokey
Play in the Anatomy Arcade
Schedule a Candy Dissection
Hold a Kinesiology Dance Party
Play Simon Says
After reading, you’ll have the activities you need to make learning anatomy and physiology enjoyable and rewarding for your students.
1. Do the Hokey Pokey
The Hokey Pokey is best known as a popular children’s song and dance. But as CTE health science teacher Kathy Regan discovered, it’s a fantastic tool for teaching students to memorize essential anatomy and physiology terminology.
“I play Hokey Pokey with names of bones,” Kathy shares. “It’s really silly. I’ll say a bone like ‘coccyx,’ and they put their backside in and out and shake. It’s kind of juvenile, but at the end of a long day, the students get a chuckle out of it.”
To do the Hokey Pokey in your classroom, arrange the furniture so there is plenty of space for your students to move around.
To start, you can choose any bone name you like to see if your students remember their location. It’s good to start with some of the most well-known bone names before progressing into the trickier ones. Then, check and make sure students are sticking the correct bone in to shake it all about!
If your students really enjoy this activity, consider using it as a way to end your class period on a regular basis (such as every Friday). To mix it up, designate a different student to lead each time. This adds a bit of extra fun as the student leader tries to think of bone names on the fly!
Overall, if you want an interactive activity that you can use to reinforce information on any given day, Hokey Pokey is a great way to do just that.
Her favorite website is Anatomy Arcade, which includes dozens of games and activities related to:
General anatomy and physiology
Each game has a difficulty rating that indicates how much knowledge a student needs to complete it successfully. This rating system is great for helping you decide when to include these activities in your syllabus.
Of all of the activities on the site, Donna has two favorites: Whack-a-Bone and Poke-a-Muscle.
The Whack-a-Bone Game
The Whack-a-Bone game focuses on the major bones of the body and is a great way to reinforce what your students have previously learned.
The game is easy to learn and involves searching for and clicking the correct location of each bone named in the level.
The Poke-a-Muscle Game
Poke-a-Muscle helps students learn about the major superficial muscles of the body.
It involves using an “x-ray scanner” to locate the correct muscle and then ‘poke’ it by clicking your mouse.
Though the instructions are simple, this game will thoroughly test your students’ knowledge of the muscular system!
Overall, the Anatomy Arcade games provide flexibility and variety and are easy to add to your existing lessons.
3. Schedule a Candy Dissection
In the proper context, using candy in the classroom can be as educational as it is motivating. Consider hosting a candy dissection in your classroom to help your students master their anatomical terms, directions, body planes, and cavities.
Students will have fun literally playing with their food while mastering important terminology that will help them in the medical field.
While you can have your students dissect any candy they would like, gummy candies that look like people or animals often work best.
Some examples of candies students can easily dissect include:
Sour Patch Kids
Gummy Pet Rat
As students take apart their candy, they’ll have to identify proper medical terms to demonstrate their understanding.
If you prefer materials you can reuse, you can complete the same exercise using modeling clay or Play-Doh. Either way, your students will have a colorful and memorable learning experience that will help them come exam time.
4. Hold a Kinesiology Dance Party
Few activities encompass movement and fun like dancing, so allow your students to get creative with a kinesiology dance party!
The dance party game works best when you divide your class into groups. Consider placing between three and five students in each group, depending on how many students are in your class. Then, assign each group to create their own choreographed dance using defined criteria.
Each dance should require students to incorporate and identify different anatomy and physiology terms. For example, you might ask your students to include:
3 Body planes
12 Anatomical directions
Have created and correctly identified each movement in their dance. Then, hold a dance party where each group performs in front of the class.
After the party, you can have students vote on the best group and hand out a prize to the winners. All in all, a dance party can be a fun change of pace in your anatomy and physiology curriculum.
Vicki Lyle, a health science teacher from Alabama, uses Simon Says with her students to reinforce range of motion (ROM) and muscle movements. You can use this activity to conclude a muscular system unit and prepare for an exam.
To implement this activity, compile a list of the ROM movements and muscular system vocabulary you want to reinforce. This should include types of body movements made by skeletal muscles and the names of body parts students will move.
Before starting this activity, make sure everyone understands how to play.
Here are a few pointers:
This competitive game ends with one student left standing (or when time is up).
If you give a command and say “Simon Says” before it, everyone should follow your instructions.
If you don’t say “Simon Says,” but students complete the action, they are ‘out’ and should sit down for the remainder of the game.
You may want to do a few examples before officially starting to ensure everyone understands. Then it’s time to start calling out directions from your list!
Be sure to vary the ROM movements and include each one in combination with different muscles and body parts. Continue to throw out combinations until one student is left standing–the winner!
Make Anatomy and Physiology Engaging For Your Students
Studying anatomy and physiology can be daunting for your students. And when they don’t participate in your classes, they risk not learning the essential knowledge and skills they’ll need to succeed in health science.
Thankfully, it’s easy to spice up your lessons with anatomy and physiology games. Depending on what A&P topics you are emphasizing, any of these activities could make an impact and better engage your students.
But sometimes, a few games and activities aren’t enough to ensure your students have mastered the material and are ready for exams.
One way to ensure your students succeed with anatomy and physiology is to use a comprehensive curriculum system like HealthCenter21. HealthCenter21 includes 200 hours of A&P curriculum and provides a variety of activities, lessons, and projects to mix things up and engage students.