Before our students can understand the functions of the animal cell, they need to know the organelles of the animal cell. There are so many fun ways to teach students about the organelles from the “cell” phone to a bowl of Jello and candy. How we teach it isn’t as important as giving students the time and repetition they need to remember all of this new information. With repetition, all of your students will learn. It just takes time.
Introducing the Organelles of the Animal Cell
Start by comparing the organelles of the animal cell (or plant cell) to something your students are familiar with. Many teachers like to compare the organelles of the cell to the parts of a city because each organelle has a special job that keeps the cell alive just like the parts of a city keep the city running smoothly. You can also use a school or a car as an example. Ask your students for ideas! Use their creativity to make the learning personal.
You will also want to give students multiple examples of how the organelles of the animal cell work. Our brains need concrete examples to learn new information. Give your students lots of examples! Telling a student once that the lysosome breaks down wastes in the cell will not be enough for her to remember and use the information. You need to give examples of the specific wastes the lysosome breaks down. For example, lysosomes break down fats, proteins, and carbohydrates so that the cell can use the individual parts in building projects. Anything brought into the cell through endocytosis is brought to the lysosomes first. Get into the details! This is how you build your students’ neural networks. Go through a similar process with all of the organelles. Then, keep talking about the organelles and their functions. Repetition is key.
Always Come Back to the Vocabulary
At the beginning of your unit, introduce the vocabulary students will need to learn about the organelles of the animal cell. Then, refer back to it as you proceed through the unit. Each time, add information related to the organelles. Keep bringing students back to the organelles. They will learn the functions and structures with repetition.
To help students learn and remember the organelles of the animal cell, I made vocabulary pages that you can use in your classroom. Use them for anchor charts or as reference materials. Students can use the notebook pieces to improve their notes or make notecards. There are no definitions on the notebook pieces so that students are forced to take the important step of putting the definitions into their own words.
You can definitely make similar vocabulary cards to teach your students about the organelles of animal cells (plant cells are included too), but you will save a ton of time if you use mine. Trust me, finding the right (legal) pictures takes time. Plus, I write descriptions and include video links for independent learning. Click here to check out the vocabulary pages at Teachers Pay Teachers! You will be glad you did! (And so will your students!)
ARE YOU TEACHING SCIENCE?
I am working on creating more science units so that every science teacher can get exactly what he or she needs for her students. You can also read about how I use brain science to teach other science topics on my blog. Click the pictures below to learn more.