Skeletal System Bone Lab

John Here:

Now that Thanksgiving is over we can talk about some bones that are different from turkey bones.   My Anatomy/Physiology classes are in the midst of the Skeletal System Unit  and we are just completing the Skeletal Long Bone Lab


This lab has several different parts and takes the students through the parts of a long bone and the different parts of the skeletal system. Before beginning the lab we complete a Cognitive Content Dictionary using terms from the lab that will help them understand some of the questions they will be answering (this is included in the lab).

The first part is an identification exercise with a cow femur. I buy cow femurs from a local butcher and have them cut longitudinally. This gives two halves. I get about 5 or 6 depending on the size of my classes (complete guidelines are included in my Skeletal Bone Lab highlight) Cow femurs are just like human femurs except they are A LOT bigger!


The identification part of this lab is unique and is truly a cooperative/group learning experience. Here’s how it works:

  • The students will use their textbook to identify the 10 parts listed and write down the functions in the proper spaces
  • Then after the students have practiced in their lab groups, the teacher will ask a student at random in the group to identify a part of the bone. After the student has answered, the teacher then chooses another term and asks the next student to identify it. This is done as a group so the students must know all the terms but will only be asked a few of them depending on the size of their lab group (2-4 students). Therefore they will have to make sure everyone in the group knows all the terms.
    • Example:
      • Teacher: “Where is the yellow marrow?”
      • Student 1: points to the yellow marrow
      • Teacher: “Where is the spongy bone?”
      • Student 2: points to the spongy bone
      • This continues until the list is finished



  • This can also be done individually if students are absent.
  • For this part of the lab the students are graded together so if a student answers a question incorrectly the whole group gets it wrong. This gives them a strong incentive to teach each other the parts of the long bone.

The next part of the lab involves answering questions based on the skeleton model in my room.


Numbers are placed on the skeleton that correspond to questions on the lab sheet. For example, question #1 asks “What are these joints called?” This pushes them farther than just basic recall questions.



Finally there are some general knowledge and application questions to answer. A writing assignment can be added to this lab if desired. The students really enjoy this type of class experience and it’s a good introduction to the identification form of assessment that will be used in future labs.

Thanks for looking, let me know what you think!




2 Comments|Add your own comment below

  1. This lab looks really great, love the chance for them to get to see the inside of a real bone. I’m going to try this with my A&P students in January. How far in advance do you get the bones and how long will they last? Thanks!

    1. Hey that sounds great, students always like this better than boring old book work! I get the bones a week or two in advance and keep them in a freezer. I am fortunate to have a refrigerator and freezer in our science back area work room. They will last quite a while if they are kept frozen, if not they are like anything else and will go bad rather quickly. Good luck and let us know how it turns out!

      The Teacher Team

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