877-542-5504 877-542-5504

Want to Help Fellow Teachers?

Please help us grow this free resource by submitting your favorite lesson plans.

Lesson Plan #: AELP-SRF0201
Submitted by: Gail O’Neal
Email: oneal@pennswoods.net
School/University/Affiliation: University of Pittsburgh at Johnstown Date: September 29, 2000

Grade Level: 4


  • Physical Education/Skill-Related Fitness
  • Health/Body Systems and Senses

Duration: 45 minutes Description: In this activity, students will discover that heart beat rate will increase as a direct result of physical activity.

Goals: Students will demonstrate a knowledge of the body, its systems, and how they work together.


  • Students will be able to measure their heart rate.
  • Students will be able to state several reasons why heart rate increases.
  • Students will be able to explain ways to help keep their heart healthy.
  • Teacher Materials:

    • stethoscope
    • tape player and tape for dancing (or any other form of exercise)
    • watch

    Student Materials:

    • paper and pencil
    • one toilet paper roll for each student (to be used as a stethoscope)
    • computers with Internet access, if available (student-computer ratio 4:1)

    Lesson Introduction:
    Write the word pulse on the board. Ask students to define the term. Explain to students that a pulse can be found on parts of the body where arteries lie close to the surface. A pulse beats at the same rate as the heart. Hold up the stethoscope and ask students if they have seen the object before. Explain that medical personnel use a stethoscope to listen to a patient’s heart. Ask students, Have you ever felt changes in your heart beat? Why do you think your heart beat changes?  Inform students that today they will find their pulse and listen to each other’s heart beat. Lesson Focus:
    Ask students, How can you use your pulse to determine your heart rate? Help students locate their pulse (have them try their wrist or neck). Ask, How can you determine the number of times your heart beats in one minute? Explain to students that if they can count the number of beats for 15 seconds and then multiply by four, the number of heart beats per minute can be found. Have each student time his/her pulse for 15 seconds to determine the number of beats per minute. Students should record their results on a piece of paper.

    Next, have students listen to each other’s heart beat. Pass out one toilet paper roll to each pair of students. Inform students that the paper rolls can be used as stethoscopes. Allow students time to listen to each other’s heart beat. Ask, What do you think happens to your heart rate when you exercise? To verify students’ predictions, have students dance to music.

    [Call attention to the need for safety while dancing. Some students will need to move to open areas of the room. If students do not feel well or have a health condition that prevents exercising, they can observe or assist with timing.]

    After students dance for a few minutes, stop the music and have students check their pulses. After students record their pulse rates, have them listen to each other’s heart beat again. Remind students to compare the before and after exercise heart beat. Ask students to share their before and after pulse rates. Record students’ responses on the board and discuss the results.

    Lesson Closure:
    Besides exercise, can you think of any other times when your heart rate increases? (examples: stress, fear, excitement) Discuss why hearts need exercise (keeps the muscles strong and allows the heart to pump blood to the body).

    Lesson Extensions:
    Invite a nurse or physical trainer to talk to the class about the importance of being heart healthy. Plan a field trip to a health club to see different cardio-exercise equipment. Have students access the WebMD web site. Students can research information about the heart and the importance of physical activity.

    Assessment: For a week, have each student record his/her heart rates in a log. Students should describe what they were doing when they checked their heart rates. Each student should have several entries. Have students write a paragraph (from their heart’s point of view) explaining why it is important to exercise and to take good care of the heart.

    Special Comments: Adaptations for Special Needs: If only one student cannot participate in the exercise, have the student assist with timing or allow him/her to operate the tape recorder. The student will still be able to feel his/her pulse and listen to other students’ heart beats. If more than one student cannot participate in the exercise, then have half the class exercise and the other half be recorders (so the special needs students will not feel left out).