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Our backs

To think about our health that we so often take for granted, particularly in relation to our backbones.

by Jan Edmunds

Suitable for Whole School (Pri)


To think about our health that we so often take for granted, particularly in relation to our backbones.

Preparation and materials

  • If possible, have a model or large picture of the human skeleton, and a rag doll.
  • Music: ‘Dem bones, dem bones’.
  • Be sensitive to anyone who has mobility problems or is unable to stand.


  1. Begin by reminding everyone how lucky we are if we have strong healthy bodies (with appropriate support if some do not have full mobility). Choose a child to come and help you. Ask him/her to walk, bend over, stretch up, etc. Then ask him/her to come and stand by you.
  2. Continue by saying that we can perform all these movements without even having to think about it. This is because we have a backbone made of small bones called vertebrae that makes for a strong but flexible (bendy) support for our bodies. Ask if someone can give you another name for it. Once the name spine is established, compare your helper with the picture or model of the skeleton if you have one.

    Establish that this is what your helper and all of us look like inside our bodies. If we had no spine we would not be able to stand or perform any of the movements we have just seen. We would not be able to lift, carry things, bend, run or even play. All of us would be floppy, like a rag doll. Demonstrate by asking your helper to try to make your rag doll stand up. Allow for some hilarity! Ask your helper to sit down.
  3. Millions of years ago the mammals that developed into us human beings walked on all four limbs. As they became more intelligent and performed different tasks they began to walk more upright and their backs became stronger. (Demonstrating this change in posture might cause some amusement but helps to hold the interest!)
  4. Many people are able to do important jobs because they have strong healthy backs. You could ask the children to give you some examples: builders, firefighters, nurses, postal workers, to name but a few.
  5. If time allows you could tell the children the story of the woman who had a crooked back (from Luke 13.10-13). She was unable to stand up straight. One Sabbath day when Jesus was preaching in the synagogue he saw her and took pity on her. He said: ‘Woman, you are free from your illness.’ He put his hands on her and she was able to stand up straight for the first time in 18 years. She was so thrilled that she had been cured.
  6. If you have the music to ‘Dem bones, dem bones’ you could sing each line for the children to repeat, i.e.:

    ‘The head bone’s connected to the backbone, (repeat twice more)
    So hear the word of the Lord.’

Time for reflection


Sometimes people are told to ‘put their backs’ into something. What do you think is meant by this phrase?


It can mean putting in extra effort and trying harder in all we do.


Dear God,

We thank you for giving us strong, healthy backs
and we thank you for all those who use their strength to help others



‘One more step’ (Come and Praise, 47)

Publication date: June 2006   (Vol.8 No.6)    Published by SPCK, London, UK.
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