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Teaching Students About Plant Cells Versus Animal Cells - A Lesson Plan for Teachers

written by: Melyarber • edited by: Wendy Finn • updated: 9/11/2012

To a biology teacher, studying cells is exciting enough...but to the average student, you may have to peak a little interest in the subject. Did someone say cake? Use this lesson for teaching students about plant cells versus animal cells.

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    What a Tasty Way to Learn!

    This lesson for teaching students about plant cells versus animal cells is sure to be a favorite. The purpose and objective is to be creative in designing and presenting animal and plant cells using one cake and a variety of candies!

    I have given this activity to my students in both honors and regular classes and it's always a huge hit with all students. One note to point out though, some get so wrapped up in MAKING the cell cake, they forget the purpose of the assignment - teaching students about plant cells versus animal cells.

    Lesson Plan

    Animal and Plant Cells Cake Activity

    1) Introduce students to the two different types of cells. (show photos/overhead projector pics etc)

    2) Make a list of all organelles and the differences in organelles for plant and animal cells.

    3) As a homework assignment have students look up the functions of all organelles.

    4) Pick groups of 3 or 4 students, and have one volunteer from each group bake a cake.

    5) One-half of the groups will construct an animal cell and the other half of the groups will construct a plant cell using cake and various candies to represent the organelles. (NOTE: For example, you can use skittles to represent ribosomes and give extra points if students can remember to place ribosomes on the rough endoplasmic reticulum as well as representing free-ribosomes. Another good idea is to use dots or gumdrops for the mitochondria)

    6) Have each group present the cake and organelles to the class and tell them they should know the functions of each cell organelle to receive full credit! ( NOTE: Have each group member talk about the function of AT LEAST one organelle. You can give an individual and group evaluation for the overall grade so no one person is responsible for the whole activity)

    7) Class can then partake in eating the cakes in class (NOTE: Have students bring plastic utensils and paper plates and let them know they must clean up any messes they make)

    ****Time will vary depending on traditional or block scheduling.

    Some students will "forget" to bake the cake, or a student will not show up sometimes, so have a back-up plan in case of missing cake. In the past, I have allowed those groups to draw a cake on a sheet of paper and label the organelles so they will not miss out on the activity.

    After teaching students about plant cells versus animal cells - when presentations are finished - take pictures of the cakes to display around the classroom and let them eat cake!

    In conclusion, this is definitely one lesson your students will never resent you for... or forget!

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