Jonathan and His Mommy


After listening to a story summary that describes an aerobic walk through a city neighborhood, children explore how one of the exercise movements described in the story affects their heart—one of the body's most important organs. They then visit several Web sites to learn more about some of the major muscle groups. They conclude with a pantomime guessing game that focuses on exercise.


Analyze which muscles are being used while a child performs various exercises.

Conclude that exercise works the muscles.

Child Jumping



  1. Have children read the story summary or share the story with them. Talk about the different movements that Jonathan and his mom make during their walk. Invite children to demonstrate some of the movements, such as zigzag steps, giant steps, baby steps, slow-motion steps, and dancer twirls. Explore how energetic walking works the body and provides good exercise. Invite children to talk about why exercise is important.
  2. Distribute the Jonathan and His Mommy Activity worksheet. Read the directions to children. Then time them for two minutes as they sit very quietly at their desks. Demonstrate how to place a hand over the heart and have them tell what they feel. Have children record their observations on the activity page. (Note: Some children may not feel their heart beat when they are resting; if this is the case, tell them to record this observation.)
  3. Use the same procedure to have children check their heart rate after they jump in place for two minutes. Make sure children have enough room to exercise safely. Based on these two sets of observations, have them draw conclusions about what happens to their heart rate while exercising. Have them record these conclusions on the activity page. As an alternative, children can discuss their observations orally. You can then lead the group in cooperatively recording them.
  4. As a group, take children online to the KidsHealth Web site: “Your Multi-Talented Muscles” at Explore what muscles are made of, the different types, and more. Then have children pantomime different activities such as climbing stairs to demonstrate the movements. Encourage them to talk about the different muscles they are using.

Home Connection

Children and their families can whip up some healthful snacks using simple recipes on Web sites that focus on health consciousness: the KidsHealth Web site at and HealthyFridge at


For a more in-depth look at how the muscular system functions, play the animation "The Muscles" found at How the Body Works at As a follow-up, have children take turns pantomiming activities that use arm and leg muscles. Invite others in the group to identify these activities and tell which body parts are being exercised.


Take your children on an Internet Field Trip to learn more about muscles. Visit Houghton Mifflin Science Discovery Works and find out about keeping fit and healthy.

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