Thursday, August 30, 2007

That's What Makes A Cell: A Song About the Parts of Plant and Animal Cells

This summer at Phi Bensa Zoe Academy (our homeschooling mini-co-op that we engage in with one other family and their similarly aged children) the senior class (first grade students) have been studying cell biology. We learned the parts of a bacteria cell, the parts of plant and animal cells, and now we're learning about cell division. Here are two of our projects:

We found our first cell model project at a Library Thinkquest site. You make a cell model out of a Ziploc baggie, Karo syrup, and candies. Splendid. We used a plastic easter egg for the nucleus with yarn inside to represent the DNA. We used small balloons for the vacuoles, making the plant cells have big ones, the animal cells smaller ones. We made our bacteria cells with only ribosomes and yarn.

Letting the kids make their own choices as to what candies to use for what organelles was very interesting. Also, we had our first lesson with the saying, "No model is perfect; every model should be useful" since all our model cells were squares and obviously, ribosomes aren't lemon drops.

Here are our plant cells:

The next models we made were of clay. We used Das clay, which I love, although it does make more of a mess than Crayola Model Magic or other "kid" clays. Das really feels like clay, to me, and the fact that it leaves a little clay on your hands is a benefit. Not a benefit to the pipes under the sink, Dan will be happy to remind me.

We made our plant, animal, and bacteria cell shapes, then added the clay organelles. Then we painted the cells, hot-glued them to a very glamorous and impressive gold plaque (spraypainted in the yard on the now-gold grass) and spray varnished the whole thing. Now the grass is gold *and* shiny! Dan will recall that he never liked the grass anyway.

Benny's project:

Zoe's project:

You'll notice that Zoe, who has declared her major as shepherding at the tender age of 7, has included the "lamb" cell, along with the other three. Excellent.

We've learned three songs to go with our study of cells, and I'll include one of them here. The others will have to wait until our next recording session, yo!

Cells are composed of organelles
Kept inside a membrane, given shape by vacuoles!
All living things are made of these
Building blocks of life; they're bio-legos if you please!

That's what makes a cell
All the organelles
Work together well
That's what makes a cell

Plant cells can photosynthesize
Using chlorophyll to turn the sunlight into french fries
Chloroplasts make plant cells green inside
They make food from water, light, and sweet carbon dioxide


When it is time to reproduce
Centrioles divide the nucleus into a deuce
Chromosomes, made up of DNA,
Line up to be pulled apart, to make two cells today.


Ribosomes put together proteins
Golgi bodies package up the proteins
Lysosomes get rid of the garbage
They all use the endoplasmic reticulum highway!


Cells, mon!

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