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P'once a little time there was a girl. This girl grew up to be a Mamma to three little girls all very much like herself. And this little Mamma knew she just had to have a place of her own to keep all things home school right at her fingertips.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

The Way We Work by David Macaulay

I really love David Macauley's books. I love his illustrations and his perspective. When I discovered this book of his on the human body I decided we should have this in our home library. We will be studying the human body this spring. In doing a little research I have also discovered in the archives of The Ellen Noel Art Museum in Odessa, Texas. Back in 2009 they had what sounds like a wonderfully fascinating Child's play display up featuring David Macaulay's The Way we Work. I would like to paste their work here for further reference. Over the next several weeks as we begin learning about the human body through Macaulay's illustrations I will be posting different lesson ideas for the week to help us to use our creative thinking skills while discovering the wonders inside this book.

Vocabulary Words: David Macaulay: The Way We Work

1.   Biology: Noun
1 : a branch of knowledge that deals with living organisms and life processes
2 a : the plant and animal life of a region or environment b : the life processes of an organism or group

2.   Organism: Noun
1 : something having many related parts that function together as a whole
2 : an individual living thing that carries on the activities of life by means of organs which have separate functions but are dependent on each other : a living person, plant, or animal

3.   Cell: Noun
one of the tiny units that are the basic building blocks of living things, that carry on the basic functions of life either alone or in groups, and that include a nucleus and are surrounded by a membrane

4.   Vein: Noun
a: one of the blood vessels that carry blood from the capillaries back to the heart b : one of the vascular bundles forming the framework of a leaf c : one of the thickened ribs that stiffen the wings of an insect

5.   Artery: Noun
one of the tube-shaped branching muscular-walled and elastic-walled vessels that carry blood from the heart to all parts of the body

6.   Organ: Noun
a part (as a kidney or leaf) of a person, plant, or animal that consists of cells and tissues and is specialized to do a particular task

7.   Tissue:  Noun
a mass or layer of cells usually of one kind together with the uniting or enclosing substance around and between them that form the basic structural materials of a plant or an animal

8.   Muscle: Noun
1 a: a body tissue consisting of long cells that can contract and produce motion b: an organ that is a mass of muscle tissue attached at either end to a fixed point (as to bones) and that by contracting moves or stops the movement of a body part

Word History People today are perhaps unlikely to think of their muscles as resembling mice. The ancient Romans, however, saw a likeness, especially in the major muscles of the arms and legs. For that reason the Latin word musculus, which originally meant "little mouse," came to be used to mean "muscle."

9.   Plasma: Noun
the watery part of blood, lymph, or milk

10. Lymph: Noun
      a usually clear fluid that circulates in lymphatic vessels,
      bathes  the cells of the body, and consists of white blood
      cells and a liquid portion resembling blood plasma

      11. Skeleton: Noun
            1. the hard framework of bones that supports and protects
            the organs and muscles of the body
            2. the essential  framework of any structure

       12. Illustration: Noun
             a picture or diagram used to explain or decorate a text

David Macaulay: The Way We Work  (Nelda Lee Gallery)


List of biology related lesson plans for elementary age students.

List of biology lessons categorized by grade level.

Lesson plans that integrate art, science and math.

Explore large structures and what it takes to build them with BUILDING BIG™, a five-part PBS television series and web site.

Lesson plan for introducing scientific illustration.

Interviews with Macaulay and discussion about his books. 


·      Have available x-rays of various images such as dental, hand, feet, arms, and head for students to observe. Have students draw with pencil what they see.

·      Discuss the structure of the hand and foot.  What purpose do the bones, muscles, nerves and blood vessels have?  Have students divide their paper into four sections.  The student will take either their hand or their foot and draw it as they see it in one section.   They will then draw the bones as they imagine them to be in the next section.  Then they will draw the muscles as they imagine them to be.  Then they will draw the blood vessels and nerves as they imagine them to be in the last section.  Have the students write in first person describing what the hand or foot might be feeling as they function on the body. 

·      Provide an item that can be taken apart easily for display.  This could be a flashlight, pen, block puzzle, toy, lamp, toaster, etc.  Have students closely observe each piece and what functions the piece provides to the entire object.  Place the pieces of the items on the table and have the students make a pencil drawing of each piece.  Have students label each piece on their drawing.  Encourage students to draw the pieces in the order they would go back together. 

·      Have the David Macaulay books available for students to read and explore the illustrations.   Learn more about Macaulay’s life and inspirations for his books on his website.


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