In this lesson plan, adaptable for grades 3-8, students use the drag-and-drop game Build-a-Body: Skeletal System to assemble a skeletal system from the major bones of the human body and discover how they connect. Case studies challenge students to put their new knowledge of the skeletal system to the test.  


Lesson Plan Common Core State Standards Alignments

Lesson Plan Next Generation Science Standards Alignments

Students will:

  1. Identify and learn about the major bones that make up the human skeletal system.
  2. Assemble a skeleton using an interactive simulation, and discover how the bones connect.
  3. Review case studies and identify the bones asked about in the studies.


  • Computers or other devices with Internet access
  • Interactive whiteboard
  • Small dry erase boards for each pair or small group, or sheets of paper


This lesson plan features the simulation Build-a-Body: Skeletal System developed by our partner,  Spongelab Interactive. This playful interactive challenges students to assemble a skeleton by dragging and dropping bones to the correct part of the human body. The interactive also challenges students to case studies in which they answer questions about the skeletal system by identifying the relevant bone.   

Preview and play Build-a-Body: Skeletal System to plan how you will adapt it to your students’ needs. Review tips on Setting Cooperative Gaming Expectations.

For more information about using interactive simulations effectively in the classroom, review our Educator’s Guide to Teaching with Digital Interactive Models and Teaching Strategies for Interactive Simulations.

Build background knowledge or reinforce topics with these BrainPOP movies: Skeleton, Vertebrates, Teeth, Broken Bones, Scoliosis, Joints

Lesson Procedure:

  1. Prompt students to share what they know about the human skeleton, such as the names of the major bones and which bone is connected to which bone.
  2. After everyone shares their ideas, play the BrainPOP movie Skeleton on the whiteboard or other display.  
  3. Project the Build-a-Body: Skeletal System interactive on the whiteboard. Explain that that today they will explore and assemble a human skeleton. After, they will review case studies in which they answer questions by identifying the correct bone.
  4. Read, or invite a volunteer to read, the information about the skeletal system on the left side of the screen. Then choose, but do NOT click, one of the bones listed in the the tray on the right. Now challenge pairs to come up with a definition for that bone and write it on paper or a small dry erase board. On your signal, instruct each pair to hold up their definitions.
  5. Now click the bone and read the definition that displays on the left side of the screen. Compare the definition to each pair’s definition and award points based on the accuracy of their definitions (e.g., 3 points for a correct and highly detailed definition, 2 points for a correct definition that may be less detailed; 1 point for a partially correct definition, and 0 for an incorrect definition). For more in-depth game play, display all the responses in the front of the room and have the class analyze them together. They can rank the responses in the same way and a volunteer can keep track of each team’s points on the board
  6. After analyzing answers, have pairs work at their own computers or devices to click the bone and drag it to the correct position on the screen.
  7. Model how they can use the arrows to the left of the illustration to move up and down and the plus/minus to zoom in and out.
  8. Repeat the process of defining, comparing definitions, ranking, and dragging/dropping for each bone until the skeleton is assembled.
  9. After pairs assemble their skeletal systems, challenge them to solve the case studies. Model the first one by clicking the Case Studies link on the top right side of the screen. Select the first case study and read, or have a volunteer read, the case study that displays on the left side. Then show them how to answer the question the case study presents by clicking the correct bone.
  10. Have partners complete the other case studies. Encourage them to discuss each case, and consider what they know, before clicking a bone. Circulate as students work, listening in on their discussions and strategies, providing support as needed.
  11. Bring the class together to reflect on the skeletal system and case studies they explored through the interactive. Have them share what new information they learned. You can return to the discussion questions from the beginning to assess what they’ve learned.

Extension Activities:

Invite students to further explore the topic of plants by watching the following BrainPOP movies: Skeleton, Vertebrates, Teeth, Broken Bones, Scoliosis, Joints

Students may also play other body system Spongelab games, including: Build-A-Body: Nervous System, Build-A-Body: Circulatory System, Build-A-Body: Excretory System, and Build-A-Body: Digestive System.