Nucleus Lesson for Kids: Definition & Function

Instructor: April DeBord

April has taught Spanish and English as a Second Language and she has her Ed. S. in Foreign Language Education.

The nucleus is like the brain of the cell. Chances are, if something is happening in the cell, then the nucleus plays some part in that function. Let's learn about the nucleus and its basic parts in this lesson!

The Nucleus

There are hundreds of different types of cells inside your body. They have different shapes and roles in keeping you healthy and growing, but every cell inside you has one thing in common: Each has a nucleus. Much like your brain, the nucleus is the control center of the cell. It helps the cell move, absorb nutrients, and reproduce (create new cells).

In general, it's located in the middle of the cell and surrounded by cytoplasm, which is a jelly-like fluid that fills all the empty space in the cell, giving it shape and keeping everything in place. Here at the core of the cell, the nucleus can more easily direct all the functions happening around it.

It's important to note that not all cells have a nucleus. Some simple organisms such as tiny bacteria do not have a nucleus. The more complex cells, like those inside of humans, other animals, and plants, do have a nucleus.

The Parts of a Nucleus

the cell nucleus

The nucleus may be small, but it is very complex and has many parts. Let's explore these parts below.

The Nuclear Membrane

Since the nucleus is so important, it needs to be protected. And so, it's protected by the nuclear membrane, which is made up of two layers (an inner and an outer membrane). The nuclear membrane acts like a cushiony outer shell, much like the helmet you wear to protect your head when riding a bike.

Nuclear Pores

The nuclear membrane is covered in tiny holes called nuclear pores. They allow different cellular materials to come in and go out of the cell. Nuclear pores are very picky. Think of them like ticket collectors at the movie theater. They only allow people with tickets into the movie, and anyone without a ticket is turned away at the door.


When you get past the nuclear membrane, you will find yourself in the nucleoplasm. The nucleoplasm is a lot like the cytoplasm outside of the nucleus--both are gel-like fluids that hold things in place and give shape. Nucleoplasm also helps transport essential materials throughout the nucleus

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