Plant Cells Activities & Games

Instructor: Rachel Tustin

Dr. Rachel Tustin has a PhD in Education focusing on Educational Technology, a Masters in English, and a BS in Marine Science. She has taught in K-12 for more than 15 years, and higher education for ten years.

Plant cells can be a tough concept for students to understand. However, applying some multiple intelligence strategies to lesson plans can help students understand the role of all of the structures in the plant cell.

Plant Cellular Travel

As a student you may recall building models of plant cells. Sometimes we built them out of Styrofoam and paint, or perhaps even Jello. However, neither of these engages students in the deeper workings of the cell so that it can be committed to long term memory. Factoring in student interest and upping the engagement level is great way to motivate student learning.

Materials:

  • various craft materials such as popsicle sticks, Styrofoam pieces, egg cartons, etc.
  • paint
  • glue
  • markers
  • white paper that can be used to create labels

Any location students love is a good choice for making a model of the plant cell
amusement park

Directions:

  • Place students in small groups of 3-4.
  • Have each team select their favorite place to vacation. It can be an amusement park, the beach, anything goes.
  • Have the teams brainstorm a list of jobs within their selected location. The jobs can be done by man or machine, either is fair game. Jobs at a park might include: food service, maintenance, ride operators, ticket sales, etc.
  • Now have students look at the list of organelles in a plant cell. This might include: cell wall, cell membrane, nucleus, cytoplasm, etc. Which jobs from their favorite vacation spot are similar to the jobs the organelles in a plant cell do? For example, a lysosome breaks down the waste in the cell, just like the cleaning crew keeps your favorite amusement park clean.
  • Students should work together to determine which jobs in their chosen location each of the organelles will perform.
  • Once the logistics of the organelles are decided, students can construct a three-dimensional model of their 'plant cellular location.'
  • Students should clearly label the model with the plant cell organelles. However, the labels shouldn't just be literal definitions. For example, 'Our lysosome cleaning crew makes sure the park is extra clean every day using their specially designed cleaning solution to break down waste.'
  • Have students present the models and explanations through a gallery walk or presentations.

Plant Cell Observations

Even though students will not be able to observe all the cell structures, it is always good for students to see real plant cells from real plants. Seeing cells live helps students understand that cells are not abstract notions of scientists, rather they are real observable structures.

Materials:

  • glass slides
  • cover slips
  • salt water
  • microscopes
  • water
  • droppers
  • Elodea (in many areas this is considered an invasive species, you may be required to order it from a biological supply company).

Students may need practice with a microscope.
miscroscope

Directions:

  1. Have students prepare an elodea slide by picking off a healthy leaf. Place the leaf on the microscope slide, and add 1-2 drops of water.
  2. Cover the leaf with a cover slip.
  3. Observe the slide under the microscope and draw the plant cells.
  4. Remove the cover slip, and add 1-2 drops of saltwater. Adding saltwater causes the water in the cell to leave through the cell membranes in a process called osmosis. It makes the internal structures of the plant cell more visible.
  5. Have students examine the slides under the microscope a second time, and draw what they see.
  6. Elodea leaves should be disposed of in the trash can, as they can sit in drains and continue to grow.

Plant Cellular Karaoke

One area of plant cells that student struggle with is simply keeping all the terminology straight. Between plant cell processes and all the organelles from the mitochondria to the vacuoles it can be challenging. Using multiple intelligence strategies, incorporating songs and movement, can be a great way to help students commit information to long term memory.

Directions:

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