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The Respiratory System 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 respiratory system is what you use when you breathe in and out. In this lesson, you'll learn about the respiratory system, its parts and how breathing works.

What Is the Respiratory System?

Have you ever tried to laugh while holding your breath? It's impossible to do because, in order to laugh, you need to breathe. Breathing is when you pull air into your body and then let it out. The part of your body that handles breathing is called the respiratory system.

Your respiratory system allows you to do things like laugh, talk and sing. It's also necessary for you to live--the respiratory system brings oxygen into your body and gets rid of carbon dioxide. Your cells need oxygen to grow, work and keep your body functioning. When cells do their jobs, they give off carbon dioxide. Carbon dioxide is harmful to your body and must be removed, which is what happens when you breathe out.

Parts of the Respiratory System

Your respiratory system is made up of different parts. You bring air in through your nose or mouth. That air then passes through the throat and into your windpipe, which is called a trachea. Your trachea splits into two branches that go into each of your two lungs. These branches continue to split into smaller branches, like twigs on a tree.

The trachea at the center branches off into the lungs, then the branches continue to split further.
lungs with airways

The smallest branches end in thin air sacs called alveoli, which look kind of like clusters of grapes. These air sacs are covered with tiny blood vessels. Oxygen from the air you inhale goes into the tiny blood vessels and travels to every inch of your body. At the same time, carbon dioxide moves out of your blood and into the air sacs so it can be breathed out.

Diagram of one of the tiny sacs we call alveoli
Alveoli

How Breathing Works

Your body takes care of breathing for you. That's why you're able to keep breathing as you sleep. In fact, your body breathes for you about 20,000 times each day!

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