The Nitty Gritty on my Poopsock Model

Last week, on my first day of student teaching at this placement I taught my students about the digestive system. I used Ceb’s idea from STARS and created a model of the digestive system, through which my students would teach themselves about each organ in your digestive system. This ended up fitting really well with my school’s philosophy of the students constructing their own knowledge and allowed me to do something really hands on for my first day.

Unfortunately I wasn’t able to take any pictures because I was so preoccupied with all of my other demands but I do have all my materials that I used to share with you all.

Before we started the lesson I had students complete a bridge that asked them to chew an unsalted saltine cracker for three minutes while taking observations every 30 seconds. By this I was trying to start the discussion of digestion, specifically that digestion is both a chemical and a mechanical process.

From here my students were responsible for coming up for a class definition for the responsibility of the digestive system in our bodies and labeling all of the organs that make up the system. After this I introduced the levels of organization for the human body (cells, tissues, organs, organ systems, human body).

After the background knowledge was formed we moved into the digestive system model. During this piece of my lesson I would first describe the actual mechanics of the model; for example, ripping the bread or adding the vinegar, and then the students (in their table groups) would actually do that “organ” in the model. I expected that after they had physically completed that section of the model they would come up with what that organ did to the food that a person actually digests.

I did each organ individually, where each table group would perform the actions needed to model that organ, after which we would come together as a class to combine our explanations so everyone was on the same page. Breaking it up this way seemed to work really well because it gave the students time to investigate the model on their own but didn’t give them too much time to get lost or overwhelmed in the process. At the conclusion of the model we came up with definitions for chemical and mechanical digestion that each student was responsible for recording in his packet.

I’ve attached my 4.1 Digestive System Workshop packet and can email you my SmartNotebook pages if you want (the blog won’t let me upload them). Below is the materials and explanations to create the model for a single group. I had my students digest a single slice of white bread, which did (admittedly) make my room smell like Elmer’s glue by the end of the day for some reason but was simple and not as gross as it could have been.


Materials for each organ:

  • Mouth
    • Quart size ZipLock
    • Water
  • Esophagus
    • Balloon (animal balloon style)
    • Plastic beads
  • Stomach
    • Gallon size ZipLock
    • White Vinegar
    • Baking Soda
  • Small Intestine
    • Knee high stocking
  • Large Intestine
    • Mid-calf tube sock


If you have any questions I’ll answer them below or in person.

2 responses to “The Nitty Gritty on my Poopsock Model

  1. I love this idea! I hadn’t realized you’d split them up into groups with different body parts like that, and I love that idea! Was it like an assembly line, where the mouth gets the bread, then the esophagus? (Don’t answer that if its available in your document. I can’t open it from this computer and will next time I’m at Warner.) I’d like to try this.

    • I actually had each table do the entire model but as a class we need one organ at a time. So, we all did the mouth, then stopped and talked about it to define its function, then all moved to the esophagus … and so on. It worked well having everyone involved during all parts of the model but still chunking it so that no one got lost in the process. It was a really fun lesson and I got even the least engaged kids involved!

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