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Kids, Giraffes, and Neck Bones

By Marsha Jones
Curriculum Developer

Giraffe

How many bones are in a giraffe’s neck? Challenge students’ thinking about the skeletal system by comparing the bones in a human neck to those in a giraffe’s neck. Teacher directions, simple research connections, Internet suggestions, and a student activity sheet are provided.

Activity overview

Students complete an activity sheet and use the Internet to answer the following question: How many bones are in a giraffe’s neck?

Recommended Web site: http://www.sandiegozoo.org/animalbytes/t-giraffe.html

Materials (per team of 2 students)

Teacher directions

  1. Distribute the Student Activity Sheet. Guide students to complete it. Consider grouping students in teams of 2.
  2. Encourage students to use research tools available at the school to answer the question, How many bones does a giraffe have in its neck? (This or a similar student-generated question works well as an Internet search.)
  3. Guide students to find out the number of bones in the neck of the giraffe as well as the general size of each bone. (Giraffes have 7 bones [vertebrae] in their necks just as humans do. Each giraffe neck bone can be more than 10" [25.4 cm] long.)
  4. As a class, visit 1 or 2 of the Web sites found by students.
  5. Guide students to complete the Student Activity Sheet.
  6. Distribute graph paper, scissors, and tape. Students use graph paper strips to compare the number and size of the neck bones in giraffes and humans.
  7. Encourage an active class discussion as students share their models and findings. Encourage “now I wonder” questions and record students’ questions on a class chart. Help students determine which questions could be answered with additional research. Where applicable, guide students to research answers to those questions.

Curriculum connections
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