Bone Cells Lesson for Kids

Instructor: Rebecca Gillaspy

Dr. Gillaspy has taught health science at University of Phoenix and Ashford University and has a degree from Palmer College of Chiropractic.

Your bones may look boring, but they are active, living body parts that are constantly being built up and broken down. Read on to learn about the three main types of bone cells: osteoclasts, osteoblasts, and osteocytes.

Bone Cells

Think about one of the bones in your body. Are you imagining a long, white stick-like structure that doesn't do much more than give your body its shape. Well, it might surprise you to learn that your bones lead very active lives!

Your bones are constantly being broken down and built back up to meet the needs of your body. This remodeling work is done by three main bone cells: osteoclasts, osteoblasts and osteocytes. Do you see the prefix osteo in each of these words? That's the Greek word for bone.

Bone cells
Bone Cells

Now, let's explore these three types of bone cells.

Osteoclasts

Osteoclasts make up the demolition crew of your bones. Their job is to break down bone. You might wonder why your body would have a cell that breaks down bone--after all, adults are always saying how important it is to have strong bones.

There are times when breaking down bone is a good thing. For instance, your bones work as storage closets for certain minerals needed by your body, like calcium. Calcium helps make your bones strong, but it's also needed to make your muscles and nerves work correctly. If your body needs to free up some calcium, osteoclasts break down bone to release the mineral.

Osteoblasts

Do you have a blast when you build something? If you do, then you have something in common with your osteoblasts. Osteoblasts have a blast building bone!

Osteoblasts are very active when you're a kid because your bones are growing bigger, but that doesn't mean they stop working when you become an adult. When you increase your activity with exercise, osteoblasts also increase their activity to make your bones stronger. If you break a bone, osteoblasts get to work making new bone to repair the damage.

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