DIY Mobile Backbone

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The backbone, or the spine, is an essential part of our body. It serves many functions that make everyday living possible. We just started our Human Anatomy Unit in school and so far we are LOVING it! This activity is just a small portion of all that we learned about the skeletal system. The lesson is much more detailed, but I loved this activity so much I wanted to share it with you. If you are wanting the entire lesson you can visit and buy a PDF download or have it shipped to your home. Her science units are affordable and full of great stuff. 


Items you will need for 1 mobile backbone

  • Yarn
  • 13 Hex Nuts or Wheel shaped pasta (I bought a pasta called Radiatore that worked good. You just have to make sure it will threat onto yarn. If it is just half of the radiatore (like this one), it wont work. 
  • 13 Gummy Lifesavers (This bag had about 49 gummy lifesavers in them. We had 7 kids make them so we needed 3 bags.) OR you can use foam sheets, felt, or something soft (You will need to cut these into the shape of a lifesaver.)

Step 1 – Talk about how important the spine is and why.

Because of our backbone we are able to stand up, bend over, and walk. Our spine is made of 33 bones called vertebrae. In between each vertebrae is cartilage that connects each bone together and also acts as a cushion.

Step 2 – Give each child 13 hex nuts or wheel shaped pasta, 13 gummy lifesavers (or other alternative) and a piece of yarn about 2 feet long. 

Make your own model backbone activity

I had these separated beforehand to eliminate wasted time, and grabby hands. HA HA. It also made sure each child received the same amount.

Step 3 – Take the yarn and one noodle/hex nut. Thread it and tie a knot near the end of the yarn so the noodle does not slide off.  

Make your own model backbone activity

With younger kids you may have to help with this part to get them started. 

Step 4 – Continue threading by alternating the lifesaver and noodle until all 13 are on.

Make your own model backbone activity

The Radiatore noodles are easier if you just slide the yarn into the swirl, instead of through the middle hole. 

Step 5 – Tie a knot on the end and show how it is similar to your back bone. 

Make your own model backbone activity

Explain that the yarn in the spinal cord that is very protected. The pasta is the bones in your back and the lifesavers are the cartilage that connects and cushions in between each vertebrae. This is not to scale! HA HA The cushion should be smaller than the vertebrae, but your child should get the basic understanding of how your backbone works. 

Make your own model backbone activity

Here is a tutorial you can watch on how to make one:

Mobile Backbone