Activity Overview

An alternative activity to the “Parts of a Cell” labeling poster would be for students to simply label each type of cell separately. In this activity, students will create a spider map identifying and describing the structure of animal cells. The colorable animal cell in the Storyboard Creator will allow students to easily highlight each part of the cell.

Cell Membrane Controls what moves in and out of the cell
Cytoplasm Where the majority of the activities take place
Mitochondria Where the majority of respiration takes place
Nucleus Contains DNA and controls the functions of the cell
Ribosome Where protein synthesis occurs

Template and Class Instructions

(These instructions are completely customizable. After clicking "Copy Activity", update the instructions on the Edit Tab of the assignment.)

Student Instructions

Create a spider map to identify and describe the different parts of the animal cell.

  1. Click "Start Assignment".
  2. In Science, go to the “anatomy” section. Find the illustration of the animal cell.
  3. Identify the different parts of the animal cell and type them into the title boxes.
  4. Each cell should have one part of the diagram colored a different color than the rest, matching the title box.
  5. Write the function of the of the part of the animal cell below the illustration.

Lesson Plan Reference

Common Core Standards
  • [SCI-MS-LS1-2] Develop and use a model to describe the function of a cell as a whole and ways parts of cells contribute to the function.


(You can also create your own on Quick Rubric.)

Labeled diagram
Label the diagram giving the functions of each part.
Proficient Emerging Beginning
All the labels are correct.
Most of the labels are correct.
Some of the labels are correct.
All the functions are correct with no grammar or spelling mistakes.
Most of the functions are correct with some grammar and spelling mistakes.
Some of the functions are correct with many grammar and spelling mistakes.
Evidence of Effort
Work is well written and carefully thought out.
Work shows some evidence of effort.
Work shows little evidence of any effort.

How to Teach Labeling Parts of an Animal Cell to Students with Special Needs


Simplified Introduction

Begin the lesson with a simple and clear introduction to the concept of animal cells. Use plain language and avoid scientific jargon. Employ visual aids like large, clearly labeled diagrams or models that can be easily seen and understood by all students. This step aims to provide a basic understanding of what an animal cell is and its significance.


Multisensory Learning Activities

Implement multisensory teaching methods to cater to a diverse range of learning needs. For example, use tactile models of animal cells where students can feel the different parts. Incorporate auditory elements such as descriptive videos or songs about cell parts. These methods ensure that students with visual, auditory, or kinesthetic learning preferences can all engage with the material.


Structured and Supported Task

Provide a structured activity for labeling the parts of an animal cell. This could involve a hands-on task where students use Velcro labels to place on a large tactile model of an animal cell. Offer step-by-step instructions and be available to provide individual assistance as needed. Ensure that the task is adaptable to suit the capabilities of each student, allowing everyone to participate successfully.


Review and Reinforcement

Conclude with a review session to reinforce the learning. Use a variety of methods such as repeating key information, showing the diagrams again, or revisiting the tactile models. Encourage students to express what they’ve learned in their own words or through drawings. Provide positive feedback and gentle corrections to ensure students feel confident in their understanding of the topic.

Frequently Asked Questions about Labelling a Plant and Animal Cell

Why Do Plant Cells Have a Cell Wall and Animal Cells Do Not?

Plant cells have a cell wall, a rigid structure surrounding the cell membrane, primarily made of cellulose, which provides support and maintains the cell's shape. This rigidity is crucial for plants as it helps them stand upright and grow vertically, offering mechanical strength and protection. The cell wall also regulates the intake of water to avoid over-expansion and bursting. In contrast, animal cells do not have cell walls. Instead, they have a more flexible cell membrane, allowing for varied shapes and the ability to engulf food and other substances. The absence of a rigid cell wall in animal cells facilitates a wider range of movements and interactions, which are essential for the functions of many types of animal cells, such as muscle cells and nerve cells.

What Is the Role of the Nucleus in Both Plant and Animal Cells?

In both plant and animal cells, the nucleus serves as the control center, housing the cell's genetic material (DNA). The DNA within the nucleus holds the instructions for cellular structure, function, and reproduction. The nucleus regulates all cellular activities by controlling gene expression, which determines when specific proteins are synthesized. These proteins are essential for various cellular processes, including metabolism, growth, and response to environmental stimuli. The nucleus's role in managing and safeguarding the genetic information is fundamental in ensuring the proper functioning and continuity of life in both types of cells.

What Is the Significance of the Shape and Size Differences Between Plant and Animal Cells?

The shape and size differences between plant and animal cells are significant because they reflect the different functions and lifestyles of these cells. Plant cells are usually larger and have a more regular, rectangular shape, which is conducive to their role in building a stable, stationary structure like a plant. The large central vacuole in plant cells contributes to their size and helps maintain structural integrity. In contrast, animal cells are generally smaller and rounder, allowing for greater flexibility and diversity in function. This variability in shape and size in animal cells is crucial for specialized functions, such as the ability of nerve cells to transmit signals or white blood cells to move through the bloodstream. These differences exemplify the principle that form follows function in biology, with the specific shapes and sizes of these cells tailored to their roles in the organism.

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