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This lesson on Lungs is called the “Breathing Machine”


P.E. & Health, Science  


2, 3, 4, 5  

Title – The Breathing Machine

By – Rob Duncan

Primary Subject – Science

Secondary Subjects – Health / Physical Education

Grade Level – 2nd to 5th

Note from

Patrick D. Shannon felt that he could make some helpful revisions to this lesson. We have posted his version on our site as well:

We suggest that you review them both.

Objectives: (Grades 1-3)

    To become aware of the functions of the lungs in our bodies.

    To become aware that air is made up of gases.

    To become aware that in breathing an exchange of gases takes place in the lungs.

Materials Needed:

    (per person)

    1 clear plastic bottle

    1 large balloon

    2 small balloons

    clay or play dough

    1 plastic straw

    2 rubber bands


    Explain to the students that they will make a model of their lungs to help
    them demonstrate how the lungs and the diaphragm work.

    1. Cut the bottom off of the bottle, leaving a portion of the bottom edge on.

    2. Cut the top part of a large balloon and discard. Tie the stem of the balloon in a knot and slip the open end over the bottom of the bottle.

    3. Attach the small balloons to the straw with a rubber band and insert the straw, balloon-side down into the bottle.

    4. Seal the top around the straw with clay or play dough.

    5. Let the children experiment by pulling down on the knotted balloon. The
    small balloons will inflate the same as when you expand your chest and
    inhale air through the nose.

    6. After practicing with their models, the class will discuss and conclude:

      that breathing is a mechanical process by which there is an interaction
      between the organism and the surrounding air; the lungs and other parts
      of the respiratory system perform this mechanical process; that we
      breathe air (a mixture of gases composed of oxygen, nitrogen, and a
      minute amount of carbon dioxide); oxygen, the gas the body needs, comes
      from the air; the lungs and other parts of the respiratory system remove
      carbon dioxide from the blood as a waste product and that this excess
      carbon dioxide is exhaled.

Performance Assessment:

    The students must construct the model of the human lungs completely in the
    time allowed.

    The students will explain each step used to complete their model.

    They will name the gases that compose air.

    The students will name the gases we exhale.


Rob Duncan


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