How to Effectively Teach the Parts of a Cell
Would your kids love to eat jello and candy for science class? Teaching with food, especially candy, always seems to hook my children! I'm not a huge fan of candy so I have to be honest, we don't do it a lot. BUT every now and then candy makes the PERFECT lesson for science!
The whole point really is to make science hands on and engaging. When you do that, your children will learn and understand science concepts more easily.
I want to share with you a fantastic, inexpensive, fun, and (yummy!) idea for helping your children to learn and understand the parts of a Eukaryotic cell.
Not sure what a Eukaryotic cell is? Don't worry, I didn't know at first either! Eukaryotic cells are found in multicellular organisms. So that is you, me, the trees, food, animals, etc. The main thing to remember is that Eukaryotic cells are cells with a nucleus. If there is not a nucleus, it is not Eukaryotic. (It's Prokaryotic, but we'll talk about that another day!)
All you need to make a fantastic model of a Eukaryotic cell is Jello and candy! I spent less than five dollars on materials for this model.
Pick a light coloured Jello such as orange or yellow. This is going to represent the cytoplasm. The bowl that you make the Jello in represents the cell membrane.
You're going to need six different shaped candies to represent the various parts of the cell. We took a picture of a Eukaryotic cell with us to The Bulk Barn so we could pick out candies that looked similar to the picture used in our unit study. These are the six parts of the cell you should include:
1. Nucleus: tells the cell what to do - the "control center"
2. Ribosomes: make protein
3. Lysosomes: digest and dispose of old and excess organelles (organelles is a general term for everything in the cell)
4. Mitochondria: produce energy - the "powerhouse"
5. Golgi Apparatus: processes and packages proteins and lipids
6. Endoplasmic Reticulum: transports protein and breaks down toxins
Once you have all your supplies the model can be made within an hour. Here's how you do it:
Step 1. Make the Jello according to package instructions. Put the bowl of Jello in the freezer for about 15 minutes or until it starts to stiffen up a bit.
Step 2. Begin adding candy! Select one type of candy at a time and explain to your children what that particular candy represents and what it is called in a cell.
For example, we used a big jaw breaker for the nucleus. Before my kids put it in the jello they had to be able to tell me what it represented and what the job of the nucleus is.
That's it! Quick, easy, fun, and tasty! A win for all in my house. I didn't let my kids eat the Jello right away. Instead they had to wait until dad got home so they could tell him what the bowl, Jello, and various candy pieces represented. If your kids can teach it than they REALLY know it!
Making science fun and hands on is the best way for kids to learn. They will be more engaged and have a better understanding of scientific concepts.
If you happen to be teaching your kids about cells right now, try this idea out! If you aren't, save it for when you do. Your kids will appreciate it!