The Digestive System and Students with Moderate to Severe Disabilities

As teachers, our goal is to assist the students in whatever manner needed to understand the content. When teaching more complex topics, this can prove to be difficult. Learning is fun! Science is fun! Now, let’s learn about the digestive system in a fun way.

During science class, we do as many hands-on activities as possible. This helps my students to better understand the concept, and who am I kidding. I love the experiments, too!

One of the first things I do for each lesson is to create a communication board for the unit. This allows my students with more complex needs to participate. In addition to the communication board, I also create a vocabulary adapted book. Most of my students have communication goals and vocabulary goals. With the book and board, I am able to monitor IEP goals and assist students in understanding the concept being taught.

For this unit, Christina drew two different items to help teach the digestive system. I enlarged these to poster size and laminated them. Add a little velcro and here’s an activity for everyone. The digestive system that includes labeling the organs was hung on the wall outside my classroom door. This allowed my students and their peers to label the parts while in the hallway. This was great! I loved watching and assisting students in labeling the organs correctly. The other poster was more of a matching activity. It was on the bulletin board in my classroom. We would discuss the organ. Then, one of my students would match it to the organ on the poster.

The experiments were so much fun and very educational! In one of the experiments, students added food and liquid items to a baggie. This was the stomach. The liquids represented saliva and gastric juices. The food items were squished in the baggie, which was digestion by the stomach. The food was placed in pantyhose, which was food entering the small intestine. It was over a tray, which was the body. The food substances were squeezed through the ‘small intestine.’ The liquids that was left on the tray represented vitamins and minerals the body can use. The food remaining in the ‘small intestine’ was waste. The waste was dumped into a paper cup, which was the ‘large intestine.’ Students, then, pushed the waste out of the cup through a hole in the bottom to represent having a bowel movement.

Are you interested in teaching fun science activities? Check out our website for lots of units. To find out additional information about this unit, visit this link.


*Digestive System picture at the top is from SymbolStix