Animal Cell Diagram - Plant Cell Diagram and Lesson Plans

Cells are the building blocks of all living things. The term ‘cell’ was first coined by Robert Hooke in the 16th century when he was studying different objects using the newly-invented microscopes. In modern times, with more powerful microscopes, scientists have been able to look at the different parts that make up the cells of living things. Both plant and animal cells play crucial roles in their respective organisms. The following activities are designed to help students understand the difference between and functions of both plant and animal cells.

Student Activities for Basic Cells

What are Cells?

All living things are made of cells. Some living organisms are made of only one cell, such as salmonella, and these are known as unicellular organisms. Other more complex organisms are made of many different types of cells; these organisms are known as multicellular. Grass, snakes, and humans are all examples of multicellular organisms. Cells are made of many different components called organelles. Animal and plant cells have many organelles in common, but some organelles also have features that are different in plant cells.

Organelles in Both Animal and Plant Cells

The nucleus is the part of the cell that contains the genetic information. The genetic information is stored in a chemical known as DNA (Deoxyribonucleic Acid). DNA has a double helix shape similar to a spiraling ladder. Cells that have a nucleus are known as eukaryotic cells.

The cytoplasm is where most chemical reactions take place. It is made mostly of cytosol, a watery substance, and is the part of the cell that is surrounded by the membrane that isn’t the nucleus.

The cell membrane (also known as the plasma membrane) is a semi-permeable skin that controls what enters and exits the cell. It is composed of a thin layer of lipids.

Mitochondria are often called the powerhouse of the cell. They are where most respiration reactions occur. Respiration is a chemical reaction that is used by living things to release energy from glucose. Aerobic respiration is respiration that uses oxygen. Anaerobic respiration occurs without oxygen.

Ribosomes are organelles in the cell where protein synthesis occurs. Ribosomes link together amino acids to create protein molecules as specified by a chemical known as "messenger RNA".

Organelles Found Only in Plant Cells

The cell wall composes the exterior of the plant cell. It is made of cellulose and strengthens the cell.

Chloroplasts are where photosynthesis takes place. They contain chlorophyll, which is what gives plants their green color. Plants are autotrophic, meaning they make their own food. In order to do this, plants absorb sunlight and use it to react carbon dioxide with water to produce glucose and oxygen.
(6CO2 + 6H2O → C6H12O6 + 6O2)

The vacuole is the part of the cell where cell sap is stored. This creates an outward hydro-static pressure that keeps the cell rigid. A vacuole is present in all plant and fungus cells, and they can also be found in some animal cells.

Note that there are more organelles normally found in both plant and animal cells. These have been omitted to simplify teaching. If you want to push your more advanced students, include additional or more complicated organelles.

Also see our Specialized Cells lesson plan for a look at different cell types.

How to Engage Students in Hands-On Activities, Such as Creating Models or Interactive Diagrams, to Reinforce Their Understanding of the Organelles and Their Functions.


Introduce the Organelles and Functions

Begin by introducing the major cell organelles and their functions. Provide a brief overview and explain the importance of these organelles in the overall functioning of the cell.


Assign Organelle Roles

Divide students into small groups and assign each group a specific organelle to focus on. Encourage them to conduct research or refer to their textbooks or other resources to gather information about the organelle's structure and function.


Create Models or Interactive Diagrams

Instruct students to create models or interactive diagrams representing the assigned organelle. They can use materials such as craft supplies, clay, recycled materials, or digital tools. Encourage creativity and attention to detail in replicating the organelle's structure and visualizing its function.


Present and Explain

Give each group an opportunity to present their models or diagrams to the class. As they present, have them explain the organelle's structure and function, emphasizing how it contributes to the overall functioning of the cell.


Peer Interaction and Evaluation

Encourage students to engage in peer-to-peer interaction. Have them ask questions, provide feedback, and discuss the different organelles presented. This allows students to learn from each other, deepen their understanding, and reinforce the concepts collectively.


Reflect and Connect

Wrap up the activity by facilitating a reflection session. Ask students to individually reflect on what they learned from creating the models or diagrams and how it enhanced their understanding of cell organelles. Then, guide a class discussion where students can make connections between the organelles, their functions, and how they work together within a cell.

Frequently Asked Questions about Plant and Animal Cells

What is the purpose of studying plant and animal cells?

Studying plant and animal cells helps us understand the basic structures and functions of life. By learning about the different organelles and their roles, students can gain a deeper understanding of biological processes at the cellular level.

Do you have online resources available to aid in teaching about plant and animal cells?

Yes, Storyboard That is a fantastic online resource to aid in teaching about plant and animal cells. It offers interactive storyboard tools that can be used to create detailed and engaging visualizations of both plant and animal cells. Students can use this tool to design their own cells, label organelles, and demonstrate their understanding of cell structure and function. This digital tool is particularly helpful for visual learners and can be a great supplement to hands-on activities.

How can I incorporate the study of plant and animal cells into my lesson plan?

You can incorporate this study into various activities, such as creating cell models, preparing slides for microscope observation, or using digital tools for virtual cell exploration. These activities can help students visualize the cell structure and understand the function of each organelle.

Find more lesson plans and activities like these in our Science Category!
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