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A Four-Year-Old Discovers Body Mapping

David Nesmith

As an Andover Educator I have many visual aids for teaching around my apartment. Recently, my four-year-old nephew, Ryne, was spending the night. As is his habit he likes to explore my home for the unusual or exotic. At one point I noticed him looking at my life-size photograph of a human skeleton hanging on the wall. 

“Uncle David, are there really rocks in my body?”

“Where do you see rocks in the picture, Ryne?”

“Here . . . ,” he responded, pointing to a wrist.

“Well, Ryne, those aren’t rocks, those are eight bones that just look like stones.”

“Oh . . . ,” as he began to palpate one of his own wrists.

Then he pointed to the iliac crest of the pelvis in the photograph, “I can feel THESE on me, too!”

I decided to prompt him a little further by pointing to the ribs in the photo. I showed him how he could explore his own ribs with his fingers. Then I invited him to feel for my ribs. Next, we looked at my 18-inch model skeleton. We explored the sternum and xiphoid process on the model, then on ourselves following the angling down of the rib cartilage and moving around to our sides.

This special moment showed me how easily encouraging the exploration and discovery of accurate body knowledge can be, especially at such an early age.

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