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  • Kelly H.

Model Lungs

Have you ever wondered why you need to breathe? Or why you have to take a big breath before going underwater? Your body needs oxygen and your lungs work to bring in that oxygen and get rid of something called carbon dioxide. You can use this model to learn how lungs work to support every part of your body, and see what they do when you take a deep breath in and a deep breath out. This is a great learning activity for children of all ages but school-age children will enjoy it the most as they are learning more about how the human body works. You can use your model lungs to teach your friends about how their lungs work.


  • 2 paper bags

  • 2 straws

  • Tape

  • Marker

Activity Steps:

Before we begin, make sure your workspace is ready with all of your supplies and plenty of space to work. You can work on this sitting at a table, sitting on the floor, or standing at a counter. If you need help with any of the supplies, make sure to have an adult nearby!

Step 1: First, you are going to begin by using your marker to draw bronchi (pronounced: brong-ky) and bronchioles (pronounced: BRONG-kee-owlz) on one of the paper bags. The bronchi and bronchioles are a part of the lung, and like tubes the air travels through to go in and out of your lungs. To draw them, draw a line from the top of the bag to the middle. Once you draw the first line, draw another long line coming from the right side of the first line you drew. Then, draw another long line coming from the left side of the first line you drew. It should begin to look like a tree branch or like lightning.

Now draw another line coming from the right side of the 2nd line you drew in Step 1. Next, draw a line coming from the left side of the 2nd line you drew in Step 1.

You should now have 7 lines drawn in total. You may use my example as a guide.

Step 2: Now that you have drawn one lung, set that one aside and grab the other paper bag to draw the second. You are using 2 paper bags because you have 2 lungs! One lung is on the right side of your chest and the other is on the left. Repeat Step 1 to draw the bronchi and bronchioles on the second paper bag.

Step 3: Next you are going to open both paper bags one at a time. To open the bag, hold the bag by the top. The top is the side with ridges that look like little triangles going across the top. Hold the bag by the top and gently open it by separating it at the top. Once open, use one hand to hold the bag and the other to stick your hand inside of the bag to open it fully. If you need an extra hand, you can ask an adult for help.

Step 4: Now you want to grab your tape and tear off 2 pieces long enough to wrap around the straw. You won’t use the tape until Step 5. You can stick the tape pieces to the edge of the table you are working on to grab them easily during the next step.

Step 5: Once you have opened both bags, set one aside to use later then grab one straw. Place the straw about 2-3 inches into the bag. You can use your thumb to measure 2-3 inches, by holding it next to the straw. You can use the marker to make a mark on the straw.

Now gather the top of the bag around the straw.

Step 6: Keep holding the top of the bag around the straw in one hand and grab one piece of tape in the other. Wrap the piece of tape around the very top edge of the bag tightly around the straw. Be sure the tape is sticking to the bag and the straw. If you need two hands to hold the bag, ask someone to help you with this step.

Step 7: Next grab the other straw and bag then repeat Steps 5 & 6, using the second piece of tape.

Step 8: Finally, pick up both lungs by the straw and hold them together (side by side). Use another piece of tape to wrap around the two straws, taping them together. You have now finished making your lungs!

Step 9: It’s now time to use the lungs to explore how lungs work. Squeeze the bags gently to make sure they are completely deflated. Place the straws in your mouth and blow slowly until the bags fill with air. As you blow into the bags, they should get bigger as they fill with air. Like the bags, when you take a deep breath, your lungs fill with air and expand. After filling the bags with air, squeeze the bags gently. Be careful squeezing the bag, as you don’t want to squeeze it so hard that it pops or tears. As you squeeze, the air is being blown out of the bags. This is what happens when you blow out a deep breath; your lungs contract or get smaller.

Another way to imagine your lungs expanding (getting larger) and contracting (getting smaller) is to place your hand on your chest and take a deep breath in through your nose or mouth. Did you feel your chest rise? If so, that’s because your lungs expanded as you were inhaling. Now, blow a deep breath out with your hand still on your chest. Did you feel your chest fall that time? If so, that is due to your lungs getting smaller as you exhaled.

Now that you’ve completed your lungs model, you can help your friends or family make their own. You can also use this lung model to teach your family and friends about how their lungs work and what their lungs are doing each time they inhale and exhale!

~ Made By: Kelly Harris

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