How to Make a Heart Model

Teaching kids how to make a heart model is a great way to show them how the hardest-working muscle in the human body works. Making an anatomical heart model requires a bit of effort. The complex system that is the human heart is not that easy to represent with clay or any other medium.

The most important thing is to work from a detailed image of the human heart when you're building heart models.

Building a Heart Model

  1. Decide on the size and materials for your heart model. A large, papier-mâché model will be more realistic and easy to craft. You can also make a very accurate heart using modeling clay.
  2. Create an armature, or sculpting framework, for the base of your heart model. A thick wooden dowel stuck into a thick, flat Styrofoam base works well.
  3. Start working from the top of the dowel. Wrap filler material tightly around the top of the dowel to create a dense base on which to build your model heart. Items that work well as filler are plastic wrap, screening mesh, chicken wire or a smaller section of Styrofoam. Your filler material should have the rough shape of a heart when you're done.
  4. Cover the armature with your choice of clay of papier-mâché. Refer to your detailed image of the human heart to get the right shape of the heart. Don't be afraid to use a knife or carving tool to refine the model. Don't forget to include the aorta and the vena cava, which should extend upward from the top of the heart. Add a few blood vessels on the surface of the heart as well. You can use straws or rolled pieces of clay to make the blood vessels.
  5. Dry the heart model on its armature. 
  6. Use paint to add more details, like veins and tiny arteries. Allow the paint to dry.
  7. Label the various parts of the heart, including the right and left ventricles, right and left atria, superior and inferior vena cavas, Pulmonary Artery, Aortic Arch and Valve, Septum, Myocardium, Coronary Sinus and Tricuspid and Mitral Valves.
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