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Body Basics for Preschoolers

As kids become more aware of their bodies  -- from hearing strange grumblings in their tummies to seeing blood from a cut  -- their fascination grows. And by 4, most are good at imagining things they can't see, so they're able to grasp that there's a whole world going on inside them, says Vir- ginia Shiller, Ph.D., a clinical psychologist with the Yale Child Study Center, in New Haven, CT. Try these hands-on anatomy lessons at home:

Listen to the beat. Place your child's hand over her heart, so she can feel it working. Then, have her run around outside for a few minutes and put her hand on her chest again so she can feel how much faster her heart beats when she's active.

Breathe deeply. Together, lie on your backs and place stuffed animals on your bellies. Watch them rise and fall with your breaths.

Bone up. Sit on the floor, curve your back, and hug your knees to your chest. Have your child feel the small bones in your spine and compare them with the long bones in your arms and legs. Help her feel her ribs curving around her chest.

Loosen up. Have her hold one end of a large rubber band while you pull the other end to explain that muscles stretch. Then, you can both reach for your toes and feel your muscles work.