Prokaryotic Cells Definition: Lesson for Kids

Instructor: Alexandra Owens

Alexandra has taught middle school science and has a master's degree in Math and Science Education.

There are two types of cells: eukaryotic and prokaryotic. You and I are not made of prokaryotic cells. Prokaryotic cells are the smallest type of cell and include all types of bacteria. Read on to learn more!

What is a Prokaryotic Cell?

Just like machines are made of many small parts working together, living things are also made of small parts called cells. There are two main categories of cells that can be found in living things: eukaryotic and prokaryotic. You are made of eukaryotic cells, just like other animals. Plant and fungi are also made of eukaryotic cells. Prokaryotic cells, on the other hand, are found in the smallest living things on Earth: bacteria! Let's shrink down and take a closer look at these tiny cells!

There are two types of cells: eukaryotic and prokaryotic. The prokaryotic cell has very little cell parts and no nucleus.
cell types

What Cell Parts Does a Prokaryotic Cell Have?

Prokaryotic cells are extremely small, so we really had to shrink down to see these cells! We are so small that no one could even see us without a microscope. First, we need to get though this outer cell wall, which protects the cell. Follow me inside and we will see what we can find. The most important difference in prokaryotic cells is that they do not have a nucleus. See the squiggly lines floating around over there? That is the cell's DNA, which is the instructions for how the bacteria lives.

Other than that there isn't much to see! There are no other cell parts that we recognize compared with other cells. There is no mitochondria, vacuoles, or chloroplasts. These are very, very simplistic cells, which is probably why they are also so small!

What Do Prokaryotic Cells Look Like?

Even though bacteria are very tiny, their populations are very large! They also can be found everywhere, but we get more into that later. Let's leave the inside of the cell and take a step back to see what they look like from the outside. These cells come in three shapes. The first one is circular shaped. How would you describe the next one? Some people say is it rod shaped, but I think it looks like a Twinkie! Oh, and the last one is my favorite! It is a spiral, twisted shape.

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