Mitosis Lesson Plan

Instructor: Julie Zundel

Julie has taught high school Zoology, Biology, Physical Science and Chem Tech. She has a Bachelor of Science in Biology and a Master of Education.

Use's video lesson on mitosis to initiate a hands-on activity demonstrating the phases involved in cell division. By the end of the lesson, students should be able to explain why cells divide and list what occurs during each phase of mitosis.

Learning Objectives

After this lesson, students will be able to:

  • describe why cells in the body undergo mitosis
  • list the steps of mitosis: prophase, metaphase, anaphase and telophase
  • briefly describe what takes place in each phase


30-50 minutes, depending on the age group and their prior knowledge


  • Play-doh or clay in four different colors
  • Rubber bands
  • Pipe cleaners
  • Sticky notes

Curriculum Standards

Grade 6-8


Determine the meaning of symbols, key terms, and other domain-specific words and phrases as they are used in a specific scientific or technical context relevant to grades 6-8 texts and topics.


Integrate quantitative or technical information expressed in words in a text with a version of that information expressed visually (e.g., in a flowchart, diagram, model, graph, or table).

Grade 9-10


Determine the meaning of symbols, key terms, and other domain-specific words and phrases as they are used in a specific scientific or technical context relevant to grades 9-10 texts and topics.


This lesson can be done with students working alone or in pairs.

  • Tell students that they are going to use their desks to learn about mitosis with the help of a video. If students are placed in pairs, assign one student to be the recorder and one to be in charge of the cell. Otherwise, each student will fulfill both roles.
  • Begin the video entitled, What is Mitosis? - Definition, Stages & Function
  • Stop the video at 3:14. Hand out the following to the students:
    • Play-doh in four different colors (a ping-pong ball size),
    • Four rubber bands, each cut in half (totaling eight rubber band pieces)
    • A pipe cleaner cut into four pieces
    • Four sticky notes
  • Tell students that each color of play-doh represents the DNA that has coiled into chromosomes. Students need to create two copies of each (remind them that they got copied in interphase as the video noted). Each student (or pair) should make four X's out of the play-doh. If the students are in pairs, the building of these x's is the responsibility of the student in charge of the cell (of course, he or she can get assistance from the partner).
  • Next, have the students use pipe cleaners as 'belts' holding the DNA copies together. If they are confused, have them use the image at 3:14 as a reference. They can place the rubber band pieces on the desk. Finally, the recorder needs to write 'Prophase' on the top of the sticky and place that on the desk.
  • Resume the video and stop at 3:48. Have students write on the sticky under 'Prophase,' 'See chromosomes' and 'Nucleus breaks down.' They should make sure the play-doh and rubber bands look like they did in the video during prophase.
  • Remove the 'Prophase' sticky and replace it with a new sticky that says 'Metaphase.' Continue the video.
  • Stop the video at 4:12 and have students write the following on the sticky: 'Chromosomes lined up in the middle,' 'Nucleus disappeared,' and 'Spindles formed'
  • Next, have students line the chromosomes up in a line in the middle of the desk. Arrange the rubber band pieces so they attach to the 'belt.' Remind students that the rubber bands are spindles.
  • Tell students to replace the 'Metaphase' sticky with 'Anaphase' and then resume the video.
  • Stop the video at 4:44 and have the students pull the chromosomes apart (he or she may have to unwind the pipe cleaner or just remove it altogether). Have them pretend the rubber bands are pulling them apart. Students then should write the following under the 'Anaphase' title: 'Chromosomes are pulled apart, then move to opposite sides of the cell.' Replace the 'Anaphase' sticky with the final sticky: 'Telophase.' Resume the video, stopping it at 5:05.
  • Have the recorder write under 'Telophase' the following: 'Nucleus forms.' The video does not use the word 'cytokinesis' to describe one cell becoming two, but it seems fitting to introduce that here. Have students further separate the chromosomes (one set on one side of the desk, the other set to the other side of the desk).
  • Resume the video.


  • Use guided notes to draw/compile notes about the activity/video.
  • Give names to the 'belts' (centromere).
  • Describe that cancer is uncontrolled mitosis.
  • Ask each student (or pair) to demonstrate each phase of mitosis with their play-doh and other supplies.

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