Inside the Human Body

Students study two important body systems, the digestive and urinary systems, through a variety of informational texts and hands-on projects.



Unit 5

2nd Grade

Unit Summary

In this unit, students study two important body systems in depth, the digestive and urinary systems. Students will be challenged to think about how the human body is a miraculous machine, in particular how the digestive and urinary systems are crucial for survival, by deeply analyzing and exploring the steps in both systems. After learning about how both systems function, students will learn about nutrition and how what we eat can either positively or negatively impact the way our body functions. Students will explore what it means to eat a well-balanced meal and how added sugars harm their bodies. It is our hope that this unit will help students build a deeper understanding of the human body and how the decisions we make daily, especially with food, can either help or harm us.

This unit builds onto skills learned in Units 1 through 4, and it is assumed that students are inquisitive consumers of text, asking and answering questions about the content they are learning as a way to deepen understanding of new material. The core text for this unit, The First Human Body Encyclopedia, was chosen because of its wide range of text features and content. While reading the encyclopedia, students should be challenged to think about how the different text features help them locate information and also how the images and diagrams help them clarify the information they are learning. Students should also be challenged to think about the connection between scientific ideas, using language that refers to cause and effect and sequence, particularly when explaining how different systems function. Finally, the study of a text or section’s main topic will continue to spiral throughout this unit. Students should constantly be stopping and asking themselves, “What was the main topic of this section and how do I know?”

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Texts and Materials

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Core Materials

Supporting Materials


This assessment accompanies this unit and should be given on the suggested assessment day or after completing the unit.

Unit Prep

Intellectual Prep

Unit Launch

To learn more about how to prepare a unit, internalize a lesson, and understand the different components of a Fishtank ELA lesson, visit our Preparing to Teach Fishtank ELA Teacher Tool.

Essential Questions

  • What makes the human body amazing?
    The human body is amazing because all of its systems work together to keep you healthy. Your digestive system helps you get all the important nutrients you need to keep your body full of energy. Then it gets rid of what it does not need. This happens automatically—you never even think about it! The urinary system also does this. It takes nutrients to your blood, and then sends excess chemicals and water out of your body through urine. You need to eat nutritious foods to keep your amazing body functioning well.
  • Why is the digestive system important?
    The digestive system is important because it is how you get important nutrients, vitamins, and minerals into your body. After swallowing food, it goes down your esophagus and into your stomach. Your stomach churns the food and protein gets absorbed into your body. The rest of the food travels to your intestines, where digested food gets absorbed into your blood and taken away. The excess food leaves your body as poop. The digestive system helps fuel your body and give you energy you need to play, grow, and sleep!
  • How does food keep our body healthy?
    Food gives us important nutrients, vitamins, and minerals that help our body stay healthy. Nutrients, like carbohydrates, protein, and fat give us the energy to breathe, move, fight germs, and stay warm. Carbohydrates are our main supply of energy. It is important to eat starchy foods, like bread and pasta, to give you long-lasting energy. Even though sweet foods have carbohydrates, the energy you get from them is used up really quickly! Protein gives you energy, too. It helps to build and repair your muscles, skin, brain, and blood. You can get protein from eggs, meat, or nuts. Fat is important to keep you warm and give you energy! Vitamins and minerals also keep your body healthy. Eating enough of them helps your skin to heal, helps you see in the dark, or helps your brain work well. Eating a balanced, nutritious meal—and drinking lots of water—will help you keep your body healthy!

Writing Focus Areas

Sentence-Level Focus Areas

  • Expanding sentences using question words

At this point in the year, students have learned how to determine what makes a sentence; correct run-on sentences; expand sentences using “because,” “but,” or “so”; combine simple sentences; and use subordinating conjunctions to introduce dependent clauses at the beginning of a sentence. Practicing sentence expansion activities allow students to anticipate what a reader needs to know and to provide that information, while also checking comprehension. Sentence expansion also helps students develop the ability to summarize and craft more complex sentences.

Paragraph-Level Focus Areas

  • Brainstorming and relating details; filling in an Single Paragraph Outline as a class

Though students have used the Single Paragraph Outline during their writing projects throughout the year, this is the first time students will be working on writing paragraphs to summarize what they have learned. Students will begin that work as a whole class, and then will shift to writing paragraphs independently, with a focus on generating topic sentences from given details.

Opinion Writing Focus Areas

  • Generate strong opinions

In Unit 3, students generated evidence and brainstormed strong topic sentences that are supported by this evidence. In this unit, students will continue to practice using strong evidence to support an opinion. This time, their opinion will be informed by a new nonfiction text related to the content knowledge they have accumulated during the unit.

Foundational Skills

Phonics and Word Recognition Focus Areas

  • Use known spelling-sound correspondences when reading one-syllable and two-syllable words
  • Use known spelling-sound correspondences when reading multisyllabic words

The core texts in this unit include many domain-specific words that students will need to decode (e.g., nutrients, digestion, intestine, enzymes, etc.). At this point, students should be fluid in identifying known spelling-sound correspondences in one-syllable and two-syllable words; however, they may struggle to decode longer multisyllabic words. When prepping for a lesson and internalizing the text complexity of a particular text, we suggest identifying multisyllabic words that may be challenging for students. Look at all of the words to see if there are any patterns. Are most of the words closed syllables? Open syllables? R-controlled? If so, include a quick teaching point to focus on strategies students can use to tackle the multisyllabic words in the text. If there are no patterns, pick a few words to model with students and review how to use syllabication to tackle challenging words. During reading, circulate and provide additional teaching and guidance on syllabication.

Fluency Focus Areas

  • Readers read with expression and volume to match interpretation of the passage
  • Readers use proper intonation to show interpretation of the passage
  • Readers reread in order to confirm or self-correct word recognition and understanding

Like prior units, the main fluency focus of this unit is on reading an informational text with the right expression and intonation to show interpretation of the passage. This includes knowing how to read different text features to highlight the feature's purpose and rereading and self-correcting in order to figure out the meaning of domain-specific, multisyllabic, or tricky words. This unit includes both Read Aloud and shared reading texts; therefore, students will have a chance to hear multiple examples of fluent reading while also having ample time to practice reading fluently on their own.



absorb automatically chemical contract digestive enzymes energy encyclopedia excess label nutrients nutritious physical saliva swallow thirst urine villi vomit waste


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To see all the vocabulary for Unit 5, view our 2nd Grade Vocabulary Glossary.

Content Knowledge and Connections

  • Explain that many important systems in the human body work together to help your body function.
  • Identify important components of the digestive system and their function.
  • Describe the process of nourishing the body from the time food is taken into the mouth until waste is removed from the body.
  • Identify different components of the excretory system and their functions.
  • Explain the importance of vitamins and minerals to the body.

Supporting All Students

In order to ensure that all students are able to access the texts and tasks in this unit, it is incredibly important to intellectually prepare to teach the unit prior to launching the unit. Use the intellectual preparation protocol and the Unit Launch to determine which support students will need. To learn more, visit the Supporting all Students teacher tool.

Lesson Map

Common Core Standards

Core Standards


Supporting Standards

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