Let’s Make Poop

We all eat food and we all have to poop! Poop is just the leftovers from what we eat after nutrients and some water are removed by our digestive system. But how does our food actually become poop?

Objectives
-Describe the process of digestion
-Model what happens to food in the intestines

Key Vocabulary
-Absorb, bile, gastric, acid, rectum

Background:

  • The digestive system is a series of organs that processes all the food we eat.
  • Digestion is all about breaking food down into smaller and smaller pieces so that we can extract nutrients.
  • Digestion starts in the mouth where teeth and tongue work to chomp the food and make it small and swallowable.
  • The food goes through the esophagus into the stomach, which makes gastric juices, which are very acidic and help break down all the food
  • The food then enters the small intestines to be broken down further by digestive enzymes from the liver, pancreas and gallbladder so the body can get all the nutrients into the blood
  • After that, it goes through the large intestine. The job of the large intestine is to remove water from undigested matter and form solid waste that can be excreted
  • Bacteria in the colon help to digest the remaining food products
  • The rectum is where feces are stored until they leave the digestive system through the anus as a bowel movement.

Nutrition:

  • Fiber is an important part of maintaining a healthy digestive system. There are two kinds of fiber:
    • Soluble fiber dissolves in water. It helps lower cholesterol and improve blood sugar control.
    • Insoluble fiber does not dissolve in water. It helps with constipation.
  • Insoluble fibers are needed so the intestines have something to grab onto and push through
  • If it is difficult to push the food waste through, you can become constipated, which can lead to lots of health problems or issues later in life
  • Foods with lots of fiber include whole grains (in breads, pastas etc.), fruits and vegetables, and beans.

Kid-Friendly Language:

  • The digestive system is made up of lots of organs in our body and a lot of ‘buddies in our bellies’, single cell micro-organisms (teeny, tiny but very hard-working bacteria) which all work together to break down the foods we eat and get all the healthy things your body needs from it.
  • Whenever you eat something, the food starts to be digested in your mouth where your teeth crush it up into small pieces.
  • Then it travels down into your stomach, where there are lots of acidic juices and some bacteria waiting to help break the food down even more!
  • After that, everything goes through the small intestine, where lots of good nutrients get pulled out, and the large intestine where the bacteria really get to work breaking down plant fiber and sending healthy chemicals our way. This is also where most of the water gets removed and put back in the body, leaving just the waste to poop!

Materials:

  • 1 knee-high stocking
  • One packet of instant oatmeal (about 1/3 cup), any flavor
  • 1 tablespoon cocoa powder
  • water
  • bowl
  • plate

Activity Plan

  1. Add the cocoa and oatmeal to a bowl and stir to combine
  2. Slowly add water 1tsp at a time, stirring until the mixture becomes a semi-solid mass that is slightly watery
  3. Using a spoon, transfer the mixture into the knee-high stocking
  4. With your hands, squeeze the knee-high (from the top down) so the mixture goes to the end of the stocking
  5. Once the cocoa mixture is at the end of the stocking, squeeze the mixture so that the “water” drips out into the bowl
  6. Turn what’s left in the stocking out onto the plate
  7. Discuss how squeezing the water represented what our large intestine does to our food waste to get it ready to be eliminated as feces.

As with all activities, adult supervision may be required.

Follow-Up Questions

  • What happens when you eat something?
  • What is the job of the large intestine?

Extension Activities

  • Oatmeal has lots of fiber so it is a great way to show what a healthy poop might look like. Try the experiment with other foods to see the results.

Check it Out!

Books:

The Lucky Escape by Dr. Heather Manley, ND (Ages 6-10)

Follow Merrin and Pearl as they try to find a penny their brother just swallowed!

The Truth About Poop by Susan E. Goodman and Elwood H. Smith

Did you know poop is used for so many things? Explore how different animals poop, how poop is used in different jobs,

Websites:



Apps:

Science Heroes – Digestive System for Kids – a fun game that engages kids with the digestive system (free in the App store)