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PE: Love your heart

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By British Heart Foundation

Encourage being active and eating a balanced diet to help promote a healthy heart – with activities and FREE online resources!

Girl with a paper heart

Encourage children to take part in physical activity to help promote healthy heart

British Heart Foundation logo

During a PE lesson or breaktimes, when children are running around and letting off steam, the heart works hard to keep the blood pumping to get oxygen to the muscles. Although children might feel the effects of exercise on the body, in the form of perspiration, breathlessness and racing hearts, they might not properly understand what’s going on inside.

In its ongoing campaign to reduce heart disease, the British Heart Foundation (BHF) has produced a fantastic teaching resource, The Big Heart Exploration (see, to help children learn the importance of exercise and a good diet for a healthy, happy heart. The CD-ROM, which is packed with activities, as well as teachers’ notes, a library of images, PowerPoint® presentations, activity sheets and supporting BHF material, takes children on an interactive journey inside the body, explaining how their heart works and how to keep it healthy.

Free resources

Don’t forget to download the fantastic free resources from the British Heart Foundation.

Exploring the heart

Making his debut appearance on the CD-ROM is Dr A Leon, an alien curious about the human body, who takes children on ‘The Big Heart Exploration’ – asking them to help him find out more about the heart. There are six different activities for children to complete individually, in small groups or as a whole class:

  • Mission Inside: Introduces the topic.
  • Heart Parts: Challenges children to label different parts of the heart.
  • Pulse Points: Shows the effects of exercise on the heart.
  • Food = Energy: Explains the importance of a healthy diet.
  • Quiz! Body: A fun quiz to test children’s knowledge of the body.
  • Quiz! Healthy: Another quiz to text children’s understanding of how to keep the heart healthy.

Each activity provides information on the heart, its structure, function and what it needs to stay healthy.


Mission inside

1. How much blood?

You will need: 1 litre jugs/plastic bottles; large bucket; bathroom scales and the PowerPoint®, “BHF – The Heart and Keeping Healthy”

  • Introduce the heart and key vocabulary using the PowerPoint® presentation”
  • Explain to the children that they will be finding out how much blood their hearts pump around their bodies.
  • Ask each child to weigh themselves in kilos and then to multiply their weight by 70ml. The answer needs to be divided by 1000 to become litres. For example, 35kg x 70ml = 2450ml (2.5l). To help children visualise the volume of blood inside their bodies, ask them to fill the bucket with the number of litres they have calculated. Although blood and water do not weigh the same, ask the children to weigh the bucket of water (note: place the bucket on the scales and set to zero first) to get a rough estimate of how much of their total weight may be attributed to blood.

2. The heart is a pump

You will need: A bucket of water; plastic tubing; an empty washing-up liquid bottle and some insulating tape.

  • Tell the children that they are going to make a simple pump to demonstrate how the heart works.
  • Step 1: Make a hole in the bottle near the bottom.
  • Step 2: Put one piece of tubing into the hole and seal it with tape. (Make sure it doesn’t let any water in or the experiment won’t work.) Attach another piece of tube into the neck of the bottle.
  • Step 3: Fill the bottle and bucket with water. Hold the bottle and the bottom tube under water in the bucket.
  • Step 4: Squeeze the bottle in the bucket. Keep the bottle under the water and the top tube above the water. Make sure the top tube points towards the water.
  • Challenge the children to make their own simple pump designs. Provide children with opportunities to discuss predictions, findings and explanations. Ineffective pumps will show the impact heart disease can sometimes cause.

Heart parts

The Interactive resource , ‘BHF – Heart parts’ helps children to learn the different parts of a heart and is differentiated into two levels – for ages 7-9 and 9-11. In both levels, an onscreen timer helps to make this activity a fun challenge. There are three activity sheets to support the games:

1. Position of the heart and lungs
  • Ask the children to complete the first of the ‘BHF — Love your heart’ activity sheets, ‘BHF – Position of the heart and lungs’. Explain that the left lung is smaller than the right to make room for the heart.
  • Encourage the children to create a thought shower on the activity sheet to help explain the function of our heart and lungs.
  • Invite the children to feel their ribcages and try to feel their heart beating. They might find this easier after PE or breaktime.
2. Heart parts
  • Use the second of the ‘BHF — Love your heart’ activity sheets, ‘BHF – Heart parts’ to help explain the simple anatomy of a heart and what happens when a heart beats.

3. Label the heart

The third of the ‘BHF — Love your heart’ activity sheets, ‘BHF – Label the heart!’ is similar to the Interactive resource , ‘BHF – Heart parts’ which asks children to label parts of the heart. The activity sheet assumes prior knowledge of oxygenation of the blood by asking the children to colour in the different sections red or blue, depending on whether blood is oxygenated or de-oxygenated.

Pulse points

You will need: Stop watches and space to run around.

  • Tell the children to find their pulse, and with a friend to help, count the beats for a minute. Ask: What do you think will happen to your pulse rate when you exercise?
  • In groups, invite the children to investigate what happens to a person’s pulse rate when sitting, walking and running. What conclusion do they reach?

The Big Heart Exploration CD-ROM, includes three animated film clips that demonstrate the relationship between exercise and heart rate. Children will see the likely difference in pulse rate between a footballer, skateboarder and someone watching TV.

Information about the resource can be found on the BHF website The resource is listed in the Science ‘7-11 year olds’ category. The BHF ask for a donation of £10 for the CD-ROM. You can place an order for the resource online, by calling 0870 600 6566 or by emailing: – in all cases quoting G404.