Thursday, August 28, 2008

Body Movies--Yes!

My daughter's fascination with how snails poop has moved on to bigger and better anatomical concepts.

Not long ago, she asked me how we talk. I had to dig to figure out what she meant, which boiled down to:

How do our bodies actually make the sounds of speech?

I tried to explain about vocal chords, how our tongues form sounds, but that wasn't enough for her. So we went to computer, where I searched for videos of vocal chords in action, including the famous clip of Steve Perry's wonder chords banging together at an insane rate as he belts out that falsetto note he's famous for. (It took me forever to find the clip before; I'm not searching for it again or I'd link to it!)

Fascinated by the video, she stroked her neck in wonder. "Mine look like that when I talk?"

A few days later, she asked how our bodies move. A simple explanation about muscles wasn't enough for her. She wanted more. (I mean, really. She's in kindergarten. It's not like she's little.)

Before she was satisfied, we'd gone through discussions of ligaments, tendons, and signals from the brain.

At one point, I casually mentioned that if she had other questions about her body, we could probably find more answers and more videos online to answer them.

"Yes! Body movies!" she exclaimed, and jumped.

For the next two days, she hounded me. Several times a day it was, "When can I watch more body movies?!"

One morning on my way to the shower she begged again, so I gave in to keep her happy. I found a site with several (on the Discovery Channel site, I think.) It had about half a dozen video clips about the human body. As I showered, she watched them. And she re-watched the one about a brain bank several times, fascinated.

When I emerged from the bathroom, she told me all about what a healthy brain looks like versus a diseased brain and how the brain bank people were cutting up the brains for study. Her eyes sparkled with excitement.

Her older siblings looked ready to wretch from disgust.

"Can I watch more body movies?" she begged. "I want to know how hair grows. And how food goes through my body. And how my heart works."

The next day we sat at the computer and searched out one answer at a time. One medical site had clips about all kinds of things. I read through them, and she'd light up when I hit on a topic she found interesting.

We watched several bits about digestion. Another about the heart. We viewed a colonoscopy. She leaned forward in absolute fascination during the tape of an actual brain surgery while the patient was awake. (That one made me flinch.) An hour later, I had to put a stop to it so we could get on with the rest of the day.

At our next trip to the library, she asked if she could check out a movie. Sure, I said, expecting her to trot over to the kids' section and look over the Arthur tapes.

Oh, no.

"Body movies!" she demanded with a hop.

You'd be surprised at how few they had. I searched the entire video collection and found two. (They had plenty of educational videos, but most were about geography, history, or animals, not the human body specifically, which was a prerequisite.) We left the library with those videos, and she watched them right away.

The next time we visited the library, she didn't care so much about finding new Berenstain Bears books like she usually does. Instead, she wanted (what else?) body books. We ended up with an armful that explained everything from how hair grows (we never did find a good video clip she understood about that) to how our ears work, why we sneeze, and what happens when you hiccup.

Thanks to a book about bones, she can now point to her patella, scapula, and femur.

"Maybe you'll be a doctor when you grow up," Dad suggested.

"No," she said with a shake of her head, laughing (as if Dad were being truly silly). "I'm going to be an artist."

"Artists need to know how the body works and moves," I told her.

"Really? Yes!!!" She pumped her arm.

I was with Dad, thinking that this body fascination would go beyond perspective and shading.

But then the other day, she showed me a picture she drew and explained that it looked just like lungs. Scary thing? It did. She looked so proud of herself that she knew what lungs looked like and what they did.

So for now, no matter what she ends up doing in the future, we'll try to feed her curiosity. While her siblings continue to think that body movies are just gross.

("A brain? Ewww!")


Kimberly Vanderhorst said...

Wow. What an amazingly intelligent kid. Good for you for feeding the curiousity instead of wrinkling your nose and telling her to go play with her dolls or something. What a great mom you are!

Heffalump said...

Sounds like she needs to watch the whole series of Bill Nye the Science guy shows! Then she could learn it without grossing out her sibs.
Good for you for taking the time to feed her mind!

Sandra said...

Oh I wish we had had the internet and videos when I was her age. I just absolutely loved learning about these things. I still do. You would find me, as a child, with the "A" encyclopedia- the one that had the overlays in the anatomy section, studying and learning all about how the body works. In fact, that is still my favorite volume in the set, but I can find so many cooler things with the 'net.

And as a mom and working in the school system, and being a first responder in the school the knowledge has served me well. But the one thing I still have not found a satisfactory answer to? How does hair grow?

Anonymous said...

Little scientist, so cute! :) And I suppose Mom has been learning a lot of new things as well. I admire you for finding books, videos and other information for her and not just saying "I don't know".

Annette Lyon said...

She's a riot, for sure.

Update: This morning, she had a new question. "Why don't eyeballs fall out of our heads?"

I had to try not to laugh at that one.

Then she jumped into my lap by the computer and demanded, "Body movies!"

We didn't watch any. I insisted she, oh, eat breakfast and get out of her pajamas.

Jewel Allen said...

What a great mom you are! And good for your daughter for being inquisitive!

Karlene said...

Curiosity is such a wonderful thing! :)

Luisa Perkins said...

Oh, how I love this post.

Oh, how I've missed you!

Alison Wonderland said...

I should bring her to work with me. Brain surgery, sure. Heart surgery, no problem. And I'm with her. That stuff is not gross, it's cool!

Jami said...

Yeah, three of my six are fascinated by all things anatomical. I went to the Bodies Revealed exhibit with two of them. (The future dentist and the future surgeon.) It was great.

Last night at dinner, my son began discussing the muscle structure of the chicken thigh he was dissecting/eating. There are no manners in my monkeys. The anatomy protesters in the family all groaned and pushed their meals away. The anatomy fans pulled theirs closer and said "hmmm, interesting!"

Since we have dial-up the online videos don't help much. Luckily, our library is very well stocked. Body movies galore!

Ines said...

She's one smart little cookie with quite the personality. I bet she keeps you on your toes!

Elisa said...

I love this post! You are a great mom to feed her mind like this! Good job Mamma!

I would have tossed my cookies for sure!

Janette Rallison said...

You've got yourself one smart kid. (You should probably start preparing yourself now for the teenage years. . .)

Josi said...

Wow, she is one smart girl! And what a great mom you are, I'm not sure I'd be as supportive. I have to tell you though that 'body movies' made me instantly think of porn--I'm sure that's got more to do with me then the actual title :-) Also, my dad is an artist and his knowledge of anatomy is amazing. I always went to him for lessons on muscles, joints, movement, etc.

Danyelle Ferguson said...


That's awesome. My kids are hooked on How It's Made from the Discovery Channel. We've started recording it on our DVR & they watch the episodes over and over and over . . . I think it's cool that they'd rather what science instead of Sponge Bob. :)

Julie Wright said...

That is simply adorable that she is searching for answers for her questions and excited about them. YOu are such a good mom!


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