We had a great time starting our human body study with learning about cells.
The first thing I did was set-up our book basket with our general human body books, and our science encyclopedias with the human body sections marked. The full list of books can be seen here.
We started by watching The Magic School Bus Goes Cellular. We have the boxed set of all the Magic School Bus episodes on DVD, which I’m looking forward to using for many of our science studies.
We had a great discussion about cells and read the sections in our Science Encyclopedia and in What Your 2nd Grader Needs to Know on cells.
After getting some background on cells, we started with our demonstrations. We are using REAL Science Odyssey – Life (among other things). Our first lab was examining “one cell that is big enough to see without expensive equipment” – an egg.
First they examined the outside of the eggs, then we cracked them open to note the cell parts (the yolk and the blastodisc).
Despite thinking the egg was “yucky” both kids kept poking it, and Georgie even touched it with his tongue. He then came up with an elaborate plan to make a drink out of the egg for me to taste. If it was yummy, we could then start selling egg drinks. I hated to burst his entrepreneurial bubble, but I informed him that some people did eat raw egg drinks but that I would not be taste testing them.
My original plan was to use these eggs to make my lunch but after the little fingers did their exploring, I changed my mind and had peanut butter instead.
Our next demonstration, involved building models of plant and animal cells. RSO gives directions using gelatin, grapes, and other fruit to mark the main parts of the cell. Since we didn’t have any gelatin, I decided to make ours using craft materials. I used the diagrams, and glossery of terms from Enchanted Learning (plant and animal).
First we did our animal cell models. We started with half of a styrofoam ball. The kids colored the outside blue to represent the cell membrane, and colored the cut top yellow to represent the cytosplasm. A ping pong ball with a hole cut in the side represents the nucleus with a nucleolus of clay sitting inside.
Centrosomes, lysosomes, and vacuoles were represented by varying colors and sizes of pom-poms. Golgi bodies, mitochondria, and endoplasmic reticulum were made from play-doh. Rough ER was dipped in small white sprinkles.
If I were to do this again, I would use something smaller for the nucleus, and use paint instead of markers to color the styrofoam ball. I didn’t want to have to wait for paint to dry, but the marker didn’t show up very well.
Both kids made animal cell models and, to show that plant cells have many of the same parts, we used the parts from one of them to build our plant cell. This helped make it very clear which parts were only found in the plant cell.
We used a plastic container and the first thing we did was line the inside with play-doh to represent the cell wall. We then lined it with plastic wrap to represent the cell membrane. We discussed how cytoplasm would fill up the entire cell but didn’t have anything to represent it on our plant cell. After moving the pieces from the animal to plant cell (and discussing each part again using the Enchanted Learning glossary), we added the two parts only found in plant cells – chloroplasts represented by green play-doh, and amyloplast represented by little round candies.
Next we discussed some of the different kinds of cells found in the human body and Georgie colored in a page from Scholastic Human Body Projects describing nerve, bone, red blood, skin, intestinal and skeletal muscle cells.
Finally, Georgie went on the computer to Cells Alive to explore plant and animal cells in more detail.
The rest of our Human Body Lesson Plans can be found here. Next we will be exploring the Skeletal System.
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