Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Teaching Kids The Difference Between Animal and Plant Cells With an Expansion About the Vacuoles in Plant Cells

Today for school we were working on the difference between animal cells and plant cells.  Of course having just about every science book Usborne has to offer, we had plenty of books to choose from to expand more on this topic.  We chose   What's Biology All About? It has a great figure of the difference of an animal cell and a plant cell.  As you can see there's a HUGE difference.

Animal Cell
Plant Cell
All cells are quite similar, but plant cells have a few extra features to them.  Notice the added features in the photos above, and I will list them below. Definitions of each are listed below that as well.

Animal Cells                          Plant Cells

Nucleus                                 Nucleus           
Cytoplasm                             Cytoplasm
Cell Membrane                     Cell Membrane
Mitochondrion                      Mitochondrion

Nucleus - the control center or "brain" of the cell
Cytoplasm - a thick liquid that fills the cell
Cell Membrane - controls what enters and leaves the cell
Mitochondrion - breaks down simple substances to provide energy for the cell
Chloroplasts - makes food by using the green chlorophyll that's inside them
Vacuole - little pockets in the cytoplasm of the cell

Something the kids were interested in was to learn more about what the vacuole of the plant cell is.  So we went on an online hunt and found this fascinating video by J S Mead that shows food vacuole formation and contractile vacuole action.  Watch the full video.  It got more interesting as it went on, and at the end, according to my son..."The cell poops!".


Can you see cells?  YES! You can!

If you have a microscope at home you can look at some onion cells.

Here's how:

1.  Cut an onion in half and in half again. Pull apart the layers and snap one layer in half.

2.  Peel off the thin onion skin.

4.  Put the onion piece on the microscope slide with a little dab of water.

5.  Fasten the slide under the clips.

6.  Turn the knobs on your microscope to lower your lens.  Use your eyepiece to focus and you should see rows of cells.

7.  Find some other items to look for cells under your microscope.  What types of items can you find cells on?  Please post them below. 

Have fun looking!

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