Search all MERLOT
Select to go to your profile
Select to go to your workspace
Select to go to your Dashboard Report
Select to go to your Content Builder
Select to log out
Search Terms
Enter username
Enter password
Please give at least one keyword of at least three characters for the search to work with. The more keywords you give, the better the search will work for you.
Select OK to launch help window
Cancel help


Advanced Search


Search > Learning Exercise Results > 3D animal and plant cells

Learning Exercise: 3D animal and plant cells

3D animal and plant cells
The purpose of this activity is to provide students with a hands-on activity, which will enhance their understanding of the 3-D characteristics of cells while reinforcing their knowledge of plant and animal cell structure. USE THIS LESSON AFTER YOU HAVE THE STUDENTS EXPLORE THE CELL MEMBRANE DEMO.


Submitted by:
Christopher Borquez
Date Last Modified:
June 28, 2005


Resources & Materials: Play-doe, food coloring or tempera paints (red, purple,
green, blue), 1 pair disposable gloves, yarn or undercooked spaghetti, pepper,
plastic-bubble packing, aluminum foil, plastic wrap, pencil shavings, scissors,
1 large knife, glue

1. After studying cell structure, divide the class into small groups.
2. Gather all materials and have them laid out according to the number of
student groups.
3. Distribute materials and lists of cell structures to each group.
4. Inform groups they will be making two cells -- one plant and one animal cell.
When they finish, each cell will be about the size of a tennis ball. The first
part of the class period will be spent making the cell structures themselves.
Instruct them to wait before putting the cells together until you can explain
the procedure. Have group leaders assign responsibility, for each cell part, to
the group members. (The cell structure list also includes possible materials,
which could be used. These materials could be expanded or substituted.)
5. Have the "cell membrane people" cut the large piece of plastic wrap in half
and place each piece on the table.
6. Have the "cytoplasm people" form 2 balls using the plain play-doe or clay.
Lay 1 ball on each piece of plastic wrap and press each into a "pancake" about
7.Instruct them to designate one pancake, "animal cell" and the other "plant
8.Have members of each group find the supplies they need to represent their cell
structures, cut, form, fold, paste, etc. until their structure is simulated.
Then place the finished structures in a pile on the center of the appropriate
pancake. (Exception -- cell wall)
9.When all of the cell parts are completed and in place, have someone in each
group "gather up" the pancake carefully cupping it around it’s "topping" and
seal all of the edges together forming a ball. 10.Next have the "cell membrane
people" wrap the plastic wrap around the cytoplasm and have the "cellwall
people" wrap the aluminum foil around the plant cell.
11.Depending on the length of time available, cells may be set aside for the
next class period or each may be cut in half with a large knife right away.



  • High School
  • Middle School


Cell Biology

1. The fundamental life processes of plants and animals depend on a variety of chemical reactions that occur in specialized areas of the organism’s cells. As a basis for understanding this concept:

a. Students know cells are enclosed within semipermeable membranes that regulate their interaction with their surroundings.

Investigation and Experimentation

9. Scientific progress is made by asking meaningful questions and conducting careful investigations. As a basis for understanding this concept and addressing the content in the other three strands, students should develop their own questions and perform investigations.


Notes on the parts of the cell

Learning Objectives

Students will be able to:

Compare and contrast the structures of plants and animals.
Demonstrate and understand the 3-dimensional aspect of cell structure.
Identify the various parts of plant and animal cells.

Type of Task

  • Student-centered
  • Team