Funnybones: Them Bones, Them Bones…

For the past few weeks, our children have been reading our “spooky” books in preparation for Halloween. One of the favorites has been Funnybones by Janet and Allen Ahlberg.

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The book is an adorable and not so spooky tale of 3 skeletons and what they do for fun! After reading the book countless times, the children started developing an interest in skeletons. We printed off some drawings of skeletons and after studying them three of the children elected to create their own using recycled materials we had. The project spanned about 4 days.

The first part of the creation was the head. Several materials were discussed by the children including balloons, a bucket, and a ball, but ultimately they decided on the empty gallon jug we had. They created eyes. The jug did not have a piece suitable for the skeletons mouth so the children searched the recyclables and found a plastic tray that they cut in half and taped to the head. They drew lines for the teeth.

The finished skeleton head.

The finished skeleton head.

The children decided that our huge basket of cardboard tubes and cardboard would be best to create most of the bones on the skeleton. The neck was made from a short tube. There was difficulty attaching it to the mouth of the gallon jug, but once the ends were cut and flattened the masking tape seemed to hold much better. One child pulled the tape off the roll to the desired length and another cut the tape. Then one held the head and neck together while the other added tape all around. Despite a few unsuccessful attempts (the head was pretty top heavy and kept falling off of the neck), they finally added enough tape to make it stay.

The ribs and the spine were added next. The ribs took a long time because they decided to cut them from a thin piece of cardboard. Their hands kept getting tired so they kept swapping who would be the cutter. Once they were cut, they taped it all together.

Skeleton taking shape with a head, neck, spine and ribs.

Skeleton taking shape with a head, neck, spine and ribs.

The shoulders were added next. The children chose larger diameter tubes because “shoulders are big”. Makes sense to me!

Shoulders were added to the skeleton.

Shoulders were added to the skeleton.

They continued further down the spine, adding another section and a pelvis from cardboard. The pelvis was already conveniently cut on one side from another project that they had used it for so they were happy to avoid making lots of additional cuts. The skeleton also gained arms. The arms were a great debate on how to attach them properly. One child wanted to use the masking tape to make solid straight arms and another child wanted to use string. The child that wanted to use the tape thought that the tape would be easier and it was fun to cut it with scissors. The child that wanted to use string thought that the arms needed to be able to move. In the end, they were attached with string and the string was secured with tape. A win-win situation for both children.

The spine was lengthened, pelvis added and arms taking shape.

The spine was lengthened, pelvis added and arms taking shape.

When it was time to add the hands, one of the children volunteered to trace her own! Neat idea! She traced both hands and another child cut them out for her. She noted that it was very difficult to trace her dominant hand with her non-dominant.

Making a left hand for the skeleton.

Making a left hand for the skeleton.


Making a right hand for the skeleton.

Making a right hand for the skeleton.


The skeleton has hands!

The skeleton has hands!

The legs were created out of large tubes stuck inside one another to make them longer. They were taped with masking tape at the joint to create knees.

Putting the tubes together to make longer legs.

Putting the tubes together to make longer legs.

Finally, a student traced their feet to make the skeleton feet and they were also attached with strings.

The finished skeleton lovingly dubbed "Funnybones" by the children!

The finished skeleton lovingly dubbed “Funnybones” by the children!

We’ve had a request by a couple of other students to create a fish skeleton next! We have been studying many images and studying the fish in our tank in the classroom. I hope to be able to document this new branch of the study and post it soon!

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