Last year we made a trip to our dentist and sadly, my son had to have a tooth removed as it was badly decayed. Since that visit, my children have been very focused on learning about their teeth and how to keep them healthy. They have had lots of questions about why we have teeth, why do teeth fall out, how come there are different size teeth, what happens when you break your adult teeth, what are braces? So here are some of the interest-led ways we have learned about our teeth over the last few months.
I put together a little basket of all the “teeth” related items we had. Our dentist was kind enough to give us teeth molds for my kids to explore and I found some of my old plates (yes, I used to wear braces), some baby teeth that had fallen out and my sons newly extract molar. I left these items on our learning shelf to encourage an interest and to provoke curiosity and further questions.
Keeping Our Teeth Clean
Our dentist had talked with our children about how to brush their teeth so each tooth is cleaned preventing plaque build up and decay. To help my children remember how to brush effectively I found these sequence of teeth brushing visual prompts that we hung up in front of our bathroom sink. In doing this, my children are reminded on how to brush ALL of these teeth and what sequence they could do it in.
As the interest in teeth continued to grow, I purchased a Science Time Dentistry Deluxe kit from Big W and the kit came with some fantastic hands-on resources, including this permanent teeth model. We used our teeth model to practice brushing teeth making sure we got all the teeth especially at the back. We also watched How To Bush Your Teeth on You Tube and looked at how to floss our teeth as well.
Types of Teeth
My son lost one of his deciduous (baby) teeth and this sparked a curiosity about the different types of teeth and why we have them. So we used the manual that came with our Dentistry Deluxe kit to read about the names of the different teeth, to look at their sizes and what their main jobs are. We looked at molars, premolars, canines and incisors and removed these teeth from our model to see their different shape.
I also downloaded these FREE teeth development nomenclature cards from The Pinay Homeschooler. Because we had already talked about the name of each tooth and what they do, I simply placed the cards in a basket on our learning shelf. This approach works well with my children as it gives them the opportunity to select the activity independently and when they are curious about it rather then me having to direct them.
Parts of Teeth
The dentist had talked about tooth decay with us and this was something that my son (9 years old) wanted to know more about. He started by looking at Tooth Decay on You Tube and searched through some of our human body books. He found a diagram of a tooth and constructed it with play dough noting each part of the tooth and how decay attacks the enamel.
Miss 5 took particular interest in tooth decay as well. She used our Tooth Model from Modern Teaching Aids and her understanding of tooth decay to draw a diagram of decay attaching a tooth. She easily explained to me how tooth decay works and what she needs to do to avoid getting holes in her teeth.
Books about Teeth
Books are always a fantastic resource for introducing children to different topics. The Jenny Evolution blog has put together a list of 10 Picture Books about Brushing Teeth for Kids that are perfect to help children learn all about teeth.
Healthy Eating, Healthy Teeth
As well as having good teeth cleaning habits, we have talked about and practiced having a healthy diet. You can read more about our 10 ways to encourage healthy eating.
You can find more hands-on ideas and resources for learning about teeth and other human body related subjects on my Human Body pinterest board.