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Cell Cycle Lesson for Kids

Instructor: Shelley Vessels

Shelley has taught at the middle school level for 10 years and has a master's degree in teaching English.

Have you ever wondered how your body repairs itself when you get injured or how exactly you grow taller? During a process called mitosis, the building blocks of your body divide in order to keep you healthy and help you grow. Read on to learn more about what happens.

Cell Parts

Have you wondered how your skin heals after you cut yourself, or a whale grows to its immense size? To find out, we have to get really small.

All living things, or organisms, are made up of tiny pieces called cells - including you! To give you an idea of how many cells you have, when you grow up into an adult, you will be made up of roughly 37.2 trillion cells.

There are a couple parts of a cell that you need to remember. In the middle of the cell is the nucleus and that acts as the cell's brain.

Also, an organism's unique personal code, its DNA, is located within each cell. The DNA is like a cell's fingerprint - it makes the cells in that organism different from all other cells, even within the same species. You have a different DNA code than anyone else on the planet!

Mitosis: Keeping Strong and Getting Bigger

Since all living things are made of these tiny cells, these cells have to remain in good working order. Fortunately, they can be replaced if they get hurt, like if you cut your finger on a piece of paper.

Cells also need to duplicate, or copy themselves, so that the organism can grow bigger. As you grow taller, it's not because your cells are growing bigger but because your body is making more and more of them.

Replacing and making new cells happens during cell division, or mitosis. During this process, the cell's nucleus splits in half and the DNA of the cell is copied, creating another cell just like the first, a twin. Your body does goes through mitosis nearly two trillion times on any given day. We'll discuss this more later on.

Now, when a cell isn't going through mitosis, it's resting in interphase and doing the daily work it needs to survive, like you do when you eat or sleep. Both are necessary for you to create energy, and during interphase, the cell is making energy to do the work of mitosis.

Stage 1: Prophase

During prophase, DNA bunches up.
A Cell During Prophase

During prophase, DNA makes copies of itself and then bunches up into tight groups called chromosomes. These bunches make an 'X' shape. Afterward, the nuclear envelope, a covering around the nucleus, breaks down. This allows parts inside the cell to move around.

Stage 2: Metaphase

The chromosomes line up during metaphase.
A Cell During Metaphase

Next, in metaphase, the cell's chromosomes line up in the middle of the cell. The cell then prepares to grab onto each chromosome for a little tug-of-war during the next stage.

Stage 3: Anaphase

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