Make a life-size paper skeleton for kids to study anatomy the hands-on way with life-size printable organs!
Skeletons are fascinating! Especially when you are seven or eight… First of all, kids at that age have some insatiable curiosity about how their bodies work, and if they can find information about this interesting subject presented in the right way, they’ll devour it with pleasure. Second, skeletons in particular are a source of great interest in kids. At least, my son definitely thinks that they’re the most worthwhile of our body systems. They’re kind of spooky, just enough to spike his interest! But at the same time, they’re very real. You see, as far as most of the other organs go, he has to believe they’re there (making the life-size anatomy model here helped!). But he can definitely feel the bones inside his body, which makes studying the skeleton a very personal experience.
Here is my son, hugging his skeleton buddy!
Do you know a kid who would also like a skeleton buddy? Or are you studying anatomy with kids? Making a life-size paper skeleton really helps them to connect the concept with themselves, and with the printable paper bones, building a life-size skeleton will be a very quick project.
The printable organs are scaled so that their size would be right for an average seven-year-old child. A few years older or a few years younger should be fine as well. If you have a child who is significantly smaller, just print the pages at a reduced scale. When we were making an anatomy model of my two-year-old daughter, we printed the pages at 80% scale.
All of the bones come in two versions – with their names written on them (cranium, mandible, humerus, etc) and without any text. There is also a reference card that has keys to building a skeleton and an information sheet that describes how our skeletal systems work. If you want more information, take a look at our list of 10 best anatomy books for kids, where we have selected our favourites for different ages and levels of interest!
How to Make a Life-Size Skeleton
First, you’ll need a big sheet of paper (about 24″ x 52″). You can glue/tape two sheets of poster paper together or use the backside of wrapping paper. Brown kraft paper would also work! We chose black, so that the bones would show up best.
Next, you’ll need to make an outline of the child’s body. On the picture below, my son (5) is finishing the outline of his sister’s (2) body. She loves feeling included and enjoyed making “paper Faye”!
If you also decide to use black paper, Sakura Gelly Roll white pens produce a nice bright line on black.
Now, you can work with the outline on the floor and arrange all the bones without gluing them onto paper…
…or you can cut the outline out, attach it to the wall and attach the bones with sticky tac or double-sided tape.
My son is finishing the skeletal model of his little sister. I think he enjoyed working on a vertical surface more because it gave a certain anthropomorphic character to the paper model.
And here is his sister, next to the finished model.
A few years later, she made her own skeletal model too!
Moreover, we built a life-size muscular system over her skeletal one. The two of them integrate together and showcase the interconnectivity of layers.
Want more anatomy activities? Try our bundles – Anatomy for Kids: Basic Systems and Anatomy for Kids: Advanced Systems. Following this hands-on anatomy unit study, children get to build life-size anatomy models of themselves, play with anatomy dress-up dolls, complete anatomy puzzles, build organs from play-dough, colour, draw and play games! The anatomy bundle is full of creative activities for young scientists.