Comparing the Simple Structure of Plant and Animal Cells
The students will conduct a scientific investigation by using a collection of examples of simple animal and plant cells and observing to compare their characteristics. They create a cell model to begin learning the basic parts of a cell. They observe various examples of plant and animal cells parts from illustrations and use microscopes to observe real plant and animal cells. They collect data on plant and animal cell parts/characteristics from the model, illustrations, and their observations of cells using microscopes. They create a drawing or a model showing a simple plant or animal cell identifying the cell parts that will be used for assessment. This activity follows lessons using microscopes and leads to lessons on the needs of living things. This activity is a good one to introduce or reinforce the use of science journals.
- The students will use guided, structured scientific inquiry to collect and record data on animal and plant cell parts/characteristics and then draw or create a model of a simple plant or animal cell, correctly labeling the parts.
- The student will use a journal to record observations and drawings as they collect data.
- The students will demonstrate their understanding of the parts/characteristics of plant and animal cells by identifying their classmates' drawings/model of a cell as either plant or animal.
Context for Use
Resource Type: Activities:Lab Activity, Classroom Activity
Grade Level: Intermediate (3-5)
Description and Teaching Materials
Using microscopes, the students will prepare and look at a paper-thin layer of an onionskin and find the cell parts. I use Activity 7 from the Delta Science Module, Small Things and Microscopes, on pages 43-48. You should check each pair of students' microscope to see if they have actually focused correctly. Ask them which parts they can see and how they know it is that part. If one pair has a good example, have the others check it. Using notes or drawings have them record observations in their journals.
After they have had time to look at their slide and record their observations, discuss their findings together as a class. Encourage them to look in each other's microscopes to see how they look compared to theirs. You can have several draw their cell on a transparency or on the board to help with the group discussion. During the group discussion, you should draw a model for them to copy into their journals, also, to assure that they have all the parts and that they are labeled correctly. You should also provide a diagram that they can glue into their journals.
Follow the same procedure using cells the students have scraped from the inside of their cheek (gently scrape cells using a flat toothpick). I use Activity 9 from the Delta Science Module, Small Things and Microscopes, on pages 55-60. Provide a collection of illustrations and slides of plant and animal cells and/or videos for the students to observe to reinforce the understanding that cells are made up of similar parts.
As a closure activity, us a T-Chart or a Venn diagram and have students categorize the plant and animal cell parts. This can be done together as a class, in small groups, or individually. If done in a small group or individually, it is important that you still complete one together as a class to assure that everyone has an accurate chart or diagram. This can be done on the overhead, white board, chart paper, etc. to model the correct information. You can also provide a worksheet for them to label the parts.
Teaching Notes and Tips
After you have checked the individual cells using a checklist, have each student place their drawing or model on their desk. Place a sticky note on each desk with an alphabet letter. Give each student a recording worksheet that has the letters on it. Have them move from desk to desk recording by each letter on their worksheet if the cell is a plant or animal cell (they should move to each desk on a cue from you so it stays organized). After they have returned to their own desk, check the papers together in class to see how many they identified correctly. This can be included as part of your assessment and as scientists, they also get to see everyone's drawing/model. This helps you to evaluate if the individual drawing/model was clear for others and if the individual students remember how to identify both types of cells.
You can use their journals in assessment using a teacher created rubric.
Strand: Life Science
Sub-Strand: A. Cells
Standard: The student will know that all organisms are composed of cells, which are the fundamental units of life.
Benchmark: 1. The students will recognize that cells are very small, and that all living things consist of one or more cells.
Sub-Strand: B. Diversity of Organisms
Standard: The student will know that living things can be sorted into groups in many ways.
Benchmark: The student will classify plants and animals according to their physical characteristics.