Teaching sequence

Lesson objective

In this lesson students make a three-dimensional model of a cell and recognise that cells have different structures based on their different functions.


Watch the film clip Types of cells: human 

Ask students why the cells are different shapes. Suggest that the different shapes are an indication of their function.


  1. Introduce students to the learning object Cell structure. Allow time for the students to examine the organelles of plant and animal cells by moving the cursor over the cell structures. When ready, students can continue to answer the pop-up questions about that type of cell. Students can then construct virtual plant or animal cells by choosing the organelles to place in the cell.
  2. Show the students the film clip Cell models. Remind students that most of the pictures they have been viewing are two-dimensional whereas real cells are three-dimensional. Ask students what were the shapes of all the model cells seen in the film clip. Remind students that cells are not always round or square. Review the film clip Types of cells: human.
  3. Ask students to create their own three-dimensional plant or animal cell. Suggestions include using jelly and lollies, polystyrene balls, or playdough.
  4. Ask student if all cells look the same. Why might they look different? List some possible functions cells might have in plants and animals. What shapes might they be?
  5. Examine prepared slides of different varieties of cells (nerve, stomata, xylem and phloem, muscle etc). Draw labelled diagrams of two of the cells.
  6. Students complete the worksheet Which cell am I?


Ask students to find a picture of an unusually shaped cell and create a ‘Who am I?’ for it. Collate student’s results for a class competition.

Lesson Resources


Student activities

Digital resources

Types of cells: human, YouTube (0:42 min) 

Cell structure, Concepts in Biochemistry, Wiley. 

Cell models, YouTube (2:03 min) 


Which cell am I? (Word, 390 KB)

Extension activities

Structure and function (Word, 340 KB)

Useful links

Plant, animal and bacteria cell models, Cells alive! Learning object

R11822 Cells and structures, NDLRN. Images of cells and an interactive activity