Imagine trying to build a house without a frame.  The frame -- the boards that outline each room -- gives the house its shape and allows you to connect things together like the roof, walls and floor.  Without the frame, the house would be a pile of paint, bricks, and windows.  Your body works the same way.  If it did not have a frame, you would be a pile of parts on the floor.

Just a few more nails and we'll have this frame all together.

Your body has many parts that work together, but they are made of a few simple things called tissues.  These are groups of cells -- the building blocks of life -- that work together.  There is one kind of tissue that makes up your bones, blood, fat, and the stretchy strings that hold your bones and muscles together.  This kind of tissue makes up more of your body than any other kind.  It forms your frame, just like boards frame a house.  Connective tissue is made of groups of cells that hold your body together, protect you, fill in spaces, and help to move things around your body.

Think about building a house without nails to keep the boards together; the house would fall down pretty fast!  Your body works just like this.  Picture your bones as boards, but instead of nails, your body uses ropes to hold bones together.  These ropes allow you to move around, but make sure that your bones stay held together while you move.  Ligaments are the stretchy ropes that hold one bone to another bone.  Have you ever sprained your ankle?  This has nothing to do with your bones as all, but happens when you tear or stretch the parts that hold the bones together.

A few more ropes and we can build a fence on the other side too.

Now that we know how bones stay together, we need to find out how those bones move around.  Your muscles make your bones move.  Picture your bicycle.  Your feet pushing the pedals makes the wheels turn.  The chain joins your muscle power to the wheels.  Your body also uses stretchy "chains" called tendons to join muscles to bones.  This allows your bones to move.

All I need now is some oil for my chain.

Houses must stand up to the pushing and pulling of strong winds and sometimes even earthquakes.  When building a house, you must make sure it can take all this shaking, pushing, and pulling without falling over.  In the same way, your body has to soak up the shock of running, jumping, playing, and falling.  Your body has its own cushioning found where bones meet bones and in other parts of the body, like between each of your back bones.  Cartilage is springy stuff that cushions and supports your organs and places where your bones come together.  Some parts of your body, like your ear and the tip of your nose, are made of this stuff, too.

No bones in this ear, just an earring.

Without connective tissue, your body would be as flat as a pancake.  It would be like a house without nails, walls, or a roof.  These cells work together to make your body's frame and give it shape.  They also connect bone to bone and bones to muscle, just like nails connect pieces of a house together.  Finally, it makes sure your body can take the shock of running, jumping, playing, and falling.  People who get hurt playing sports often have an injury to these parts that hold their body together.  So, be careful when you play and make sure you stretch before you go have fun


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"Cartilage." World of Anatomy and Physiology. Gale, 2007. Gale Science In Context. Web. 3 Dec. 2012.

"Connective Tissue." Biology. Ed. Richard Robinson. New York: Macmillan Reference USA, 2009. Gale Science In Context. Web. 3 Dec. 2012.

Hoffman, Matthew M.D. "The Seven Most Common Sports Injuries." 1 Jun. 2007. Web 4 Dec. 2012.

Jenkins, Steve. Bones. New York: Scholastic Press, 2010. Print.

Mayo Clinic staff. "Sprained Ankle: Definition." Diseases and Conditions. 20 Aug. 2011. Web. 4 Dec. 2012.

"Tendons and Tendon Reflex." World of Anatomy and Physiology. Gale, 2007. Gale Science In Context. Web. 3 Dec. 2012.

Walker, Richard. 
Human Body. DK Eyewitness Books. New York: Dorling Kindersley, 2009. Web. 3 Dec. 2012.