Data Science

Head, Shoulders, Knees, and Plantar Nerves

Iillustration of human blue skeleton and muscle

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This neuroscience twist on the classic nursery rhyme “Head, Shoulders, Knees, and Toes” will get your students out of their seats, signing, and learning neuroscience vocabulary.

As you sing the modified song, which lists nerves rather than the body parts from the original, have your students point to the parts of the body. Cranial is head, axillary is shoulders, tibial are knees, plantar are feet, occipital are eyes, auditory are ears, lingual is mouth, and olfactory is nose.

The human body has 12 cranial nerve pairs that originate in the brain and control hearing, taste, and smell, among other functions. The axillary nerve originates in the shoulder and descends into the upper arm. Damage to the axillary nerve can lead to lack of feeling or a “pins and needles” sensation in parts of the neck, shoulders, and upper arm. The tibial nerve runs down the length of the leg and into the soles of the feet, where it becomes the plantar nerve. These nerves send a message to the brain when you step on a Lego!

Occipital nerves help with vision, and auditory nerves carry sounds on their journey through the ear to the brainstem. The lingual nerve provides sensation to most of the tongue, while the olfactory nerves provide us with a sense of smell.

Integration into the Curriculum:

  • Health
  • Biology, AP Biology
  • Anatomy and Physiology

Activity:

Head, Shoulders, Knees, and Plantar Nerves

Lyrics:


Cranial,
Axillary,
Tibial and Plantar,
Tibial and Plantar.

Cranial,
Axillary,
Tibial and Plantar,
Tibial and Plantar.

Occipital,
Auditory,
Lingual,
And Olfactory.

Cranial,
Axillary,
Tibial and Plantar,
Tibial and Plantar.

Interested in more ways to teach your students about neuroscience through song? Encourage your students to watch and listen to Without Your Cerebellum by Taylor Joel Woodward or How the Nervous System Works by Flocabulary.


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