This activity is best begun after children have been sitting quietly and working for at least 30 minutes. Results will be adversely affected if the lesson begins after physical education, recess or a noisy transition when their pulses are elevated. It teaches children how to find a pulse, use the pulse to track heart rate, record heart rate data for three different situations, and compare results. During this lesson children will also practice two healthy activities: aerobic exercise and a simple meditation.
After children have practiced
Relaxation Response Exercise: Deep Breathing
for a few days in a row, they are ready to measure their heart rates and compare results that occur in their own bodies during a similar relaxation activity with an aerobic activity.
Step One: Open lesson with whole group direct instruction by asking students some general questions about heart rate, heart beats, pulse, and other related questions to start them thinking about heart rate and to get a general idea of their background knowledge. Keep track of their answers on chart paper or, a computer-based interactive white board.
Some Example Questions:
Has a doctor ever used a stethoscope to listen to your chest?
What was the doctor listening for?
Have you ever heard your own heart beat?
Have you ever listened to or felt someone else's heart beat?
How often does your heart beat?
How many times in a minute does your heart beat?
How does someone take a pulse?
Has anyone ever taken your pulse?
Have you ever taken your own pulse?
What is a heart rate?
What is a healthy heart rate?
How do different activities affect your heart rate?
While reviewing the questions and answers distribute the
Pulse Rate Data Collection Chart
(see Appendix A) to each student and have a whiteboard or chart paper version ready for sample results.
Step Two: Show children how to check their own pulse by placing a thumb on their chin and feeling for the
in the neck with their forefingers and middle fingers together (see www.health.com for an image). Rotate around to students to make sure that they are finding the pulse correctly. Have them try both right hand and left hand to determine preference for finding the pulse.
Step Three: When they all have located the pulse, have them count their own beats for six seconds, and record this number on the chart. Multiply the recorded number by ten. Repeat three times. Teacher can record his or her own pulse on the sample chart or choose a student as an example.
Step Four: Have students stand up and move to an area of the room where they have space for movement, or rearrange desks to make adequate space. Lead students in some aerobic calisthenics or dancing for about five to seven minutes. Then, while standing or walking slowly repeat Step Three and record results.
Step Five: Cool down by returning to normal seating arrangements. When they are settled into their seats lead students in the Relaxation Response Exercise for about five to seven minutes. Immediately afterward repeat Step Three and record results.
Step Six: Return to whole group instruction and compare results on sample data chart. Students may wish to share their individual data as well. Model for students how to formulate questions for further study based on the data recorded. Encourage them to ask questions and record for use in future lessons.
Some Modeled questions may include:
Why does your heart rate increase when you exercise?
Was your heart rate different at rest than it was five minutes after exercising? Why do think that happened?
What might happen to you if your heart rate was always as high as it was right after exercise?
What might happen to you if your heart rate was the same all the time?
Is your heart rate always the same when you are sitting? Why or Why not?
Have students attach recorded data into an interactive science notebook for use during future lessons.