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Learn How Your Lungs Work

Explore how your lungs work with this STEAM-approved DIY! 

One of my favorite STEAM topics is the human body! Kids are always fascinated to learn about the different parts that make up their bodies. Organ models are a great way to introduce this topic to kids! Read below to learn how to make this life-sized lung model with inflatable balloons!


Materials Needed:

  • Cardboard
  • Scissors or a box cutter
  • Kid Made Modern Washable Paint

  • Paint brushes

  • Bendable straws

  • Balloons (we used pink!)

  • Tiny rubber bands

  • Clear tape

  • Blue and pink fuzzy sticks (from your Kid Made Modern Arts and Crafts Library)

  • Hot glue gun (always have a parent supervise this!)

How To:

Step 1: Draw the shape of your lungs onto a piece of cardboard and ask a parent to help you cut them out. You will want to draw two lungs and the tube between them that connects them. This tube is called the trachea. Paint the lungs pink with your washable paint.

Step 2: Next, use your white blue paint to add details. Begin by painting the trachea (the tube between the lungs) blue. Next, paint the bronchi and bronchioles. These tubes in each lung branch out like tree branches to get smaller and smaller. At the end of each branch paint a little blue dot to represent the alveoli, tiny air sacs where your lungs transfer oxygen and carbon dioxide with your blood.

Step 3: Next, you will take your straws and bend the ends at an angle. You can use two or 4 straws for this. I used 4 because I knew my kids would be really excited about blowing up the balloons! Line up the straws so that the bent sections point in opposite directions, toward each of the two lungs. If you are using 4 straws, two will need to be longer than the others. Trim two of the straws to make this work. Once they are all lined up, tape them together with clear tape.

Step 4: Gently attach a balloon to the bent end of each straw with a tiny rubber band. Be sure not to make the rubber band too tight or air won’t be able to get into the balloons!

Step 5: Tape your straws to your cardboard lungs so that a little bit of the straws sticks up above the end of the cardboard. You will want to bend the straws so that the balloons are over the lung sections of your model. Use some blue fuzzy sticks to add decoration around the straws by wrapping them and then twisting the ends in the back. This also represents the ridges that are in our real trachea! As an optional final step, you can glue pink fuzzy sticks around the edges of each lung with hot glue (be sure to ask an adult for help!).

Add a Little STEAM

You can inflate the balloons in your lung model by blowing through the straws! Blow gently and you will see the balloons fill with air, just like our lungs when we breathe in. When you stop blowing into the straws the lungs will deflate as the air rushes out, back up the trachea. 

Ask an adult to help you look online for more information about how lungs work! Compare the model you built to the real thing: what is similar and what is different about the way that our real lungs work compared to the model? 

Next, challenge yourself to create a model of another organ using your Kid Made Modern supplies! Can you create a brain? A heart? A stomach? Use an adult’s help and books or the computer to research about another organ and design your own model!