Grade: Elementary
Subject: Science

#3229. Cell-O

Science, level: Elementary
Posted Sun Oct 10 09:52:57 PDT 2004 by Sara Peoples (
Oak Grove Elementary, Tampa, USA
Materials Required: various fruit, gelitan, toothpicks, masking tape, shallow plastic containers
Activity Time: 45 minutes
Concepts Taught: the structure of plant and animal cells

Before class, prepare a flavored gelitan mixture. Do not let it set. Also, prepare the fruit you will need for the cells. I chose fruit based on the color of the organelles in our science book. For example, in the science text, the nucleus was colored purple, so we used a purple grape to represent the nucleus. Be creative, and work with what your science book looks like. Other fruits I used were a pear slice for the plant cell vacuole, and green grapes for plant cell chloroplasts.

Review the structure of plant and animal cells
Create a Venn Diagram to show the similarities and differences in the cells.

Tell your students that today you will be making your own model cells. Give each student 5-7 toothpicks and a piece of tape. Show the students how to make flags by folding the tape in half around the toothpick. Have the students write the parts of either a plant or animal cell on their flags.

While the students are working on writing, the teacher carefully pours the warm gelitan into the shallow plastic containers.

Discuss the organelles the fruit represent with the students by comparing the size and color to the drawing in your text book. Have each student add an appropriate amount of fruit to the cell models.

Discuss how the cytoplasm in a cell is jelly-like, so gelitan is a good way to show what that part of the cell is like.

Guide the student to label and explain the function of each part of the cell.

Put the model cells in a refrigerator to let them set up for a few hours.

When the cells are set up, have the students with animal cells take the cells out of the cups to represent the cell membrane. The students who made plant cells should keep their models in the cup to represent the cell wall. Ask the students to share their cells with others in their groups.

Give out spoons and let the students eat their cells as a healthy treat!

My fifth grade students really enjoyed this lesson and seemed to retain the names of the organelles even better than I expected.