Engaging Cell Unit Activities for the Classroom

12 December 2015

Today I am going to share a conglomeration of resources and activity ideas for teaching about cells, a Virginia SOL for 5th and 7th graders.  Most of these activities use technology, with a few freebie printable activities sprinkled in as well. 


First off, virtual tours and webquests.  If you have access to technology in your classroom, why not flip things around a bit and allow the students to explore for their learning?  These visuals are so powerful for students to interact with.  Each student could access these independently, or they could work in small groups!  It would be a great idea to give students a recording sheet to keep track of what they learn while touring the cells.  Below are links to some great virtual tours and webquests: 

Next are a few games that students can access independently to practice and review content, play as a small group, or even whole class.  Stay tuned for the Creation Activities section to see how students can make their own practice games like these.
*Google search tip:  Did you know you can type any content/title with ppt after it and the search results will show power points already created for that topic? Try it!  Type "cell jeopardy ppt"

Sometimes there just are not enough technology resources in your classroom to complete all of the above activities.  Here are a few freebie printable activities that can be utilized in small groups with students for extra practice.  Better yet, use these activities as a model to show your students and have them create their own review games!

I attended the VSTE (Virginia Society for Technology in Education) Conference this past weekend in Roanoke.  It was fabulous, as always.  My biggest take-away from majority of the sessions I attended is the value in having students create their own content and presentations.  It is the highest level on Bloom’s Taxonomy and I believe, where the magic really happens in the classroom.  Below are some ways you can do this in your cell unit. You can also allow your students choose the way they would like to present the information they have learned so it is relevant to them!  With all of these ideas, a rubric or expectation sheet would be great to be sure all students include all of the necessary information.
  • This Build a Cell interactive website is an activity on the basic level of creation. It walks you through creating a cell and will stop you if you have placed an organelle without having other basic cell structures in place.  
  •  Thinglink is a free website where you can import a picture and make it interactive.  This could be used to import a picture of a cell without labels and create your own live labels for the parts, or to compare a cell to something else like a car, football stadium, etc.
  • If your school is a GAFE school, students could use Google Draw to construct their own cell or Google Slides to collaborate as a class and create their own Jeopardy game.
  • Prezi is a fabulous free resource where teachers and students can create engaging presentations.  Your students could import a picture of a cell, and create their own virtual tour with Prezi.
  •  Use an iPad or a flip camera to create a video of a tour inside a cell, or a day in the life of a cell.
  • Have students create a cell rap to remember each part's function
  • If your students do not have access to technology to create a virtual tour, they can also create a cell with any concrete materials you have in your classroom and identify what each object in the cell represents.
    • create an edible cell out of candy, or a cell pizza with different toppings
    • create a cell with play dough
    • create a brochure comparing a cell to any business, sporting event, etc.
Visit this Pinterest board for more fun ideas!  I hope you enjoyed this post and are able to use some of the ideas in your classroom!

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