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Cells and DNA Lesson

Updated on September 16, 2015
Edible DNA Model
Edible DNA Model

This is part 1 of a 7 part hands-on unit study on anatomy of the human body. Create edible models of human cells and DNA, look at cheek cells under a microscope, and more! These lessons are geared toward 4th-5th grade level children and their siblings and were used for our weekly homeschool co-op. We meet each week for 2 1/2 hours and have 33 children between the ages of 1-13. Use these fun lessons with your classroom, family, after school program, or co-op!

Just like this sweater was knit from wool with each part having a purpose, our bodies were knit together by God and each part of our bodies has a specific purpose.
Just like this sweater was knit from wool with each part having a purpose, our bodies were knit together by God and each part of our bodies has a specific purpose.

Fearfully and Wonderfully Made and Introduction to Cells and DNA

1. Pray. Read and discuss Psalm 139:1-6, 13-16.

2. We are now going to begin a new unit study this week. We will be studying human anatomy and physiology, the parts of our bodies and how they work together.
-Hold up a sweater, jacket, or other clothing item. Quickly ask the children, “How was this made, and what is it made from?” [Allow children to answer.] Ask, “What are some of the parts of it and what do they do?” [example: sleeves keep your arms warm, hole in the head allows you to pull it over your head, etc.]
-Just like this sweater/jacket/etc. was knit/sewn/etc. from wool/yarn/etc. with each part having a purpose, our bodies were knit together by God and each part of our bodies has a specific purpose. God didn’t use yarn to make our bodies. He used cells and DNA.
YOU WILL NEED: a sweater, jacket, or other clothing item

3. Read a book about cells and DNA. We read pp. 1-21 of "Have a Nice DNA" by Fran Balkwill. If you are teaching younger children, "I Know How My Cells Make Me Grow" by Kate Rowan would be the best option.
YOU WILL NEED: a book about cells and DNA such as "Have a Nice DNA" by Fran Balkwill or I "Know How My Cells Make Me Grow" by Kate Rowan

Best Read Aloud Option for Older Children (ages 7+)

Have a Nice DNA (Enjoy Your Cells Series Book 4)
Have a Nice DNA (Enjoy Your Cells Series Book 4)

Of the many picture books we read on cells and DNA, I thought this was the best option to use as a read aloud to introduce cells and DNA. It includes some of the parts of the cells and talks about how the cells and DNA work. It has colorful illustrations that are appealing to the children. The end of the book unfortunately delves into evolutionary theory, so we only read pages 1-21. *Also look for "Amazing Schemes Within Your Genes" and "Gene Machines" by the same author.

 

Best Read Aloud Option for Younger Children (ages 6 and under)

Sam's Science: I Know How My Cells Make Me Grow
Sam's Science: I Know How My Cells Make Me Grow

This is a fun story book that includes a conversation between a mom and child on cells. It does an excellent job of explaining more complex ideas in a manner that even a 3 year old can understand but also that a 10 year old can learn from it. This is the most book on cells of the ones we read. This does not include as much information as the above book, Have a Nice DNA, but it does include a surprising amount of information about cells in a wonderful format. It includes some of the different types of cells and how cells divide.

 
Using a toy to explain how a cell is like a factory
Using a toy to explain how a cell is like a factory

Cells Are Like Factories

7. Ask the children if any of them got a toy for Christmas/their birthday. Tell them that their toys were probably made in a factory. Ask the children to describe what a factory might look like and what jobs might be needed at a factory. Our cells are just like factories. Cells are protein-producing factories.

-Using a similar dialogue and descriptions from the esheet, "Cells: A Busy Factory" found in the The Cell As a System lesson, compare the way a factory works to the way cells work. The below descriptions come from that esheet.

Coloring in the parts of the cells as we discuss each part and its function
Coloring in the parts of the cells as we discuss each part and its function

-Show your colored picture of a cell from biologycorner.com. Tell the children that they are going to color their own picture of a cell as you discuss each part. As you mention each part, have the children repeat the name after you. Also, show the pictures of each of the parts of the cell magnified under a microscope from a book. We used "Photographic Atlas of the Body" by Arran Frood, though "The Human Body Close-Up" by John Clancy would be an equally good option.

-The cell membrane regulates what enters or leaves the cell. It is analogous to the shipping and receiving department of a factory. The nucleus (or the executive department) runs the cell factory and controls all cell activity. The cytoplasm is similar to the factory floor that holds all the workers, machines, and equipment. The cytoplasm holds all the organelles or cell parts. The ribosomes are like the workers in the assembly line who are responsible for building the goods in the factory. Ribosomes build the proteins in the cells. The endoplasmic reticulum is like the assembly line where workers do their work as items move along on a conveyor belt to different parts of the factory. The ER is where the ribosomes do their work, and the ER moves the proteins to different parts of the cell. The golgi apparatus is like the packaging department who puts the created items in their boxes to ship them. The golgi apparatus prepares proteins for use or export. The lysosomes are the janitors or maintenance crew. They are responsible for breaking down and absorbing materials taken in by the cell. The mitochondria is the cell’s power plant is of the cell and produces the cell's energy.

YOU WILL NEED: this picture of a cell printed in color or printed and colored by you ahead of time at the above link (biologycorner.com), a book showing the parts of the cell magnified under a microscope such as "Photographic Atlas of the Body" by Arran Frood or "The Human Body Close-Up" by John Clancy, & items brought by students/families: cell coloring pages and crayons/markers/colored pencils

The Book We Used to Show the Parts of the Cell Magnified

Photographic Atlas of the Body
Photographic Atlas of the Body

This has amazing photographs of the various parts of the body. We used it to show what each of the systems and organs actually look like. *If you don't have access to this book, "The Human Body Close-Up" by John Clancy also has wonderful photographs of parts of the human cell magnified under a microscope.

 
Items ready to be assembled into an edible cell model
Items ready to be assembled into an edible cell model
Folding the Golgi apparatus
Folding the Golgi apparatus
The completed edible cell model
The completed edible cell model

Edible Cell Model

5. Make an edible cell models. * Prep: Ahead of time lay out items need on a napkin/paper towel for each child. *
*To see the full script of what we said while doing this activity, I have included it toward the bottom of this lesson in Appendix A.*
The plastic bag is the cell membrane.
The jell-o/syrup is the cytoplasm.
The cherry represents the nucleus. The cherry pit represents the nucleolus. The skin of the cherry represents the nuclear membrane.
The sprinkles are the ribosomes.
The gummy worms and the endoplasmic reticulum . (If you want to differentiate Smooth ER and Rough ER, you will need gummy worms with sugar and without sugar on the outside. The ones with sugar on the outside are the ones with ribosomes and are the Rough ER. The ones without sugar on the outside are the Smooth ER.)
Stack the fruit roll-up pieces on top of each other and fold them into an s-shape. This is the Golgi apparatus.
The Skittles are the lysosomes.
The Mike & Ikes are the mitochondria.
-Have teachers/parents assist children in securely closing the bags. Bags containing jell-o should be places in the refrigerator to set.
YOU WILL NEED PER CHILD: 1 plum or cherry without the stem (or a large seeded grape if those are not available), a teaspoon of cookie/cake sprinkles (not colored sugar), 2 gummy worms (can have 1 with sugar and 1 without sugar if you want to have smooth and rough endoplasmic reticulum), 3 small match-stick size cut-out strips of fruit roll up, 2 Skittles (or other round candy), 4 Mike & Ike or Hot Tamale candies (or other rod-shaped candy), 1 napkin, and hand sanitizer, & additional items brought by students/families: ziplock quart size bag half full of unset jell-o or Karo syrup


Edible cell model we made using fruit, which is an option if you'd prefer to avoid using candy
Edible cell model we made using fruit, which is an option if you'd prefer to avoid using candy

Healthier Edible Cell Option

Are you hoping to avoid candy? If you'd prefer a recipe that isn't sweet, try making a pizza as seen at doodle blog. She used the pizza crust as the cell wall, ranch dressing & mozzarella for the cytoplasm, a round slice of Canadian bacon for the nucleus, a round slice of onion for the nucleolus, bacon bits for the mitochondria, green peppers for the vacuoles, bacon for the lysomes, onion for the golgi bodies, cheddar cheese for the ribosomes, sliced mushrooms with ribs for the Rough ER, and sliced mushrooms without ribs for the Smooth ER. You can see the photo here by cutting and pasting this link: http://doodlebloghomeschool.blogspot.com/2012/01/edible-animal-cells.html . We have also made edible cells using watermelon and various fruits for each of the organelles.

Cheek cells under a microscope magnified 400x
Cheek cells under a microscope magnified 400x

Looking at Cheek Cells Under a Microscope

6. Option 1: Even a basic microscope with a magnification of 40x can allow children to see their cheek cells. Have them gently scrape the inside of their cheek with a flat toothpick and place that part of the toothpick on a clean microscope slide. The cheek cells will be difficult to view unless they are stained. In order to stain them, use a pipette to drop a drop of water over the cheek cells. Carefully place a cover slip on top of the drop of water. Put a drop of food coloring next to the cover slip. Put a small piece of paper towel on the opposite side of the cover slip. It will suck up the water and draw the dye over the cells.

Option 2: Alternatively, you can use prepared slides such as the set below.

Option 3: If you do not have a microscope, you can simply show a picture from the Internet. You can say something such as: If you scraped the inside of your cheek, with a toothpick, some of your cheek cells would come off onto the toothpick. If you put your cells under a microscope, dyed them blue so you could see them better, and magnified them 400 times, this is what they would look like. [Show the picture from science.tjc.edu/.] Ask, “Can you see all the cell’s organelles, or cell parts, when you magnify it 400 times?” [No.] “What parts can you see?” [Cell membrane, nucleus, and cytoplasm] You would have to magnify the cell about 100,000 times to see all the parts we talked about today. There are microscopes that magnify that much, but they are quite expensive.

YOU WILL NEED: Option 1: microscope, toothpick, pipette, food dye (or buy a more concentrated dye like methylene blue or malachite green from the fish department at a pet store), microscope slide with cover, strip of paper towel, Option 2: microscope with a prepared slide that includes a cell such as a cheek cell, or Option 3: a computer/phone to show the picture of magnified cheek cells found at the above link

If you are not limited by time and have a small group, read this great book on DNA!

The Decoding Genes with Max Axiom, Super Scientist (Graphic Science)
The Decoding Genes with Max Axiom, Super Scientist (Graphic Science)

My boys (ages 5 and 9) especially loved this book because it's written in a comic book format. It is similar to a Magic School Bus book, but the scientific topics are a bit more advanced. It provides an excellent explanation about how genes and DNA work.

 
Our body's cookbook: DNA
Our body's cookbook: DNA

Our Body's Cookbook: DNA

7. Using a picture of DNA and a cookbook, introduce how DNA is like a cookbook, containing recipes for each cell. Every cell has the entire cookbook. It has all the recipes or information for all the cells, but God made them so that they know which one recipe to use in each cell. Even though our DNA uses recipes to make all our body parts (from our skin to our hearts to our brains to our bones), it only has four basic ingredients or base molecules: adenine, guanine, cytosine and thymine. *If you would like a full script of what I said while introducing DNA, look toward the bottom of this lesson in Appendix B.

YOU WILL NEED: a cookbook and a picture of DNA (from the Internet or from a book)

DNA vs. RNA

DNA and RNA are both nucleic acids, but they do different jobs in your cells.

DNA delivers the blueprint.

RNA reads it.

Edible DNA model
Edible DNA model

Edible DNA Model

8. Make edible models of DNA strands by following the directions at teach.genetics.utah.edu. ***Prep: Ahead of time lay out a sandwich bag for each child. In each bag place 2 pieces of licorice, 12 toothpicks, 9 pink marshmallows, 9 yellow marshmallows, 9 green marshmallows, and 9 orange marshmallows.*** Each color of marshmallow will represent one of the four types of chemical bases are: adenine (A) = green, thymine (T) = pink, cytosine (C) = yellow, and guanine (G) = orange. Remember that A always pairs with T and C always pairs with G. They can follow the sequence of T A C G T A T G A A A C by inserting pairs of colored marshmallows on each rung of toothpick and attaching the toothpick to the licorice backbone. (We did not label the DNA.)

YOU WILL NEED PER CHILD: 2 pieces of red licorice, at least 12 toothpicks, at least 9 of each different color of small colored marshmallows (orange, yellow, pink, & green), a napkin, and a sandwich bag [*Tip: one 10 ounce bag of colored miniature marshmallows contains enough for about 10 children.]

Each child is assigned a cell.
Each child is assigned a cell.

Cells Come Together to Make Up Tissues

9. Quickly discuss the various types of human body cells. Show pictures of various types of human body cells using pictures from the Internet or from a book such as "Photographic Atlas of the Body" by Arran Frood.
YOU WILL NEED: pictures of various types of human body cells using pictures from the Internet or from a book such as "Photographic Atlas of the Body" by Arran Frood

10. Play the Cells to Tissues to Organs to Systems game found at coreknowledge.org/ . Tell the children that when cells that perform the same job gather themselves into shapes that make tissue like the skin, muscles, bones. Tissues are groups of like cells that perform the same function, for example, muscle tissue or bone tissue.
-Tell the children that they are each going to become a particular type of cell. They will need to find their partner or partners in order to form tissue. They should look for 1, 2, or 3 other people who have the same word in the same color as what is written on their card. Once they find their partner or partners, they should sit down together.
-Ask, “What 3 things need to be the same?” [word and color] Ask, “When you find your partner or partners, what will you do?” [sit down together]
-Pass out cards to each of the children and tell them to become tissues.
YOU WILL NEED: Cell cards: Use quarter sheets of paper or 3X5 index cards and label them as follows: Using a purple marker or crayon write “blood cell” on 2 cards, “nerve cell” on 2 cards, and “muscle cell” on 2 cards. Using a red marker or crayon, write “fat cell” on 4 cards and “blood cell” on 3 cards. Using a blue marker or crayon, write “nerve cell” on 4 cards and “muscle cell” on 2 cards. Using a green marker or crayon write “muscle cell” on 4 cards and “epithelial cell” on 2 cards.

Cells come together to form tissues.
Cells come together to form tissues.

Cells Make Up Tissues

11. When certain cells get together, they form tissues just like you just did. Hold up each of your tissue signs and ask, “Which cells formed [blood/nerve/etc.] tissue?” When the pair or group sees the one that belongs to them (because of the similar name and color), they should raise their hands. Give them the tissue cards.

YOU WILL NEED: Tissue cards: Use half sheets of paper or 4x6 (not 3X5) index cards and label them as follows: Using a purple marker or crayon write “blood tissue” on one card, “nerve tissue” on 1 card, and “smooth muscle tissue” on 1 card. Using a red marker or crayon, write “fat (connective) tissue” on 1 card and “blood tissue” on 1 card. Using a blue marker or crayon, write “nerve tissue” on 1 card and “muscle tissue” on 1 card. Using a green marker or crayon write “smooth muscle tissue” on 1 card and “epithelial tissue” on 1 card.

Tissues come together to form organs.
Tissues come together to form organs.

Tissues Make Up Organs

12. Lay the picture of the tongue at one table, the picture of the liver at one table, the picture of the stomach at one table, and the picture of the small intestine at another table.
-Tell the children that when certain tissues get together, they form organs such as the liver, lungs, and kidneys.
-The children are each a cell. They came together to form tissues. Now their tissues are coming together to create organs.
-Have everyone stand up and step away from the chairs because they are going to switch seats again.
-Hold up the picture of the tongue. Ask, “Which tissues make up the tongue?” Instruct all the children with blue cards to sit at the tongue table. The tongue, which is an organ, is made of nerve tissue and muscle tissue, which is made of nerve cells and muscle cells.
-Hold up the picture of the liver. Ask, “Which tissues make up the liver?” Instruct all the children with red cards to sit at the liver table. The liver, which is an organ, is made of blood tissue and fat (or connective) tissue, which is made of blood cells and fat cells.
-Hold up the picture of the stomach. Ask, “Which tissues make up the stomach?” Instruct all the children with green cards to sit at the stomach table. The stomach, which is an organ, is made of epithelial tissue and smooth muscle tissue, which is made of epithelial cells and muscle cells.
-Hold up the picture of the small intestine. Ask, “Which tissues make up the small intestine?” Instruct all the children with purple cards to sit at the small intestine table. The small intestine, which is an organ, is made of nerve tissue, smooth muscle tissue, and blood tissue, which is made of nerve cells, muscle cells, and blood cells.
YOU WILL NEED: Organ cards: Print a large picture of a human tongue, liver, stomach, and small intestine from the internet and paste each picture to the specific color of a full-size sheet of construction paper. A picture of a tongue should be on a blue sheet, a picture of a liver should be on a red sheet, a picture of a stomach should be on a green sheet, and a picture of the small intestine should be on a purple sheet. Alternatively, you could simply use 4 sheets of white paper and draw each of the 4 organs using the specified color. You and draw the tongue using a blue marker/crayon, a liver using a red marker/crayon, a stomach using a green marker/crayon, and a small intestine using a purple marker/crayon.

Organs come together to form organ systems.
Organs come together to form organ systems.

Organs Make Up Organ Systems

13. Ask the children, “Cells come together to make what?” [tissues] “Tissues come together to make what?” [organs] Organs come together to make up organ systems.
-There are 11 organ systems that make up your body. They each have a different main function, but they work together to help your body function. Listen closely as I describe each organ system, as I want you to determine which organ system you all make. (As you mention each system, show a picture of the system from a book such as The Human Body by Charles Clayman.)
-A way to remember each function is to use a mnemonic device. A mnemonic device is when you come up with a silly sentence. The first letter of each word corresponds with the first letter of each of the organ systems. Say this sentence after me: “Each night my unintelligent cat dives into some really rocky lakes.”
- The E in each reminds us of the endocrine system, which controls your thyroid glands. The N in night reminds us of the nervous system, which is your brain and nerves and acts as your control center. The M in my reminds us of the muscular system, which is all your muscles. The U in unintelligent reminds us of the urinary system (also called the excretory system), which cleans our body of poisons. The C in cat reminds us of the cardiovascular system, which is your heart and veins and is your life pump that keeps your blood flowing. The D in dives reminds us of the digestive system, which involves the organs that take deal with the food you eat. The I in into reminds us of the integumentary system is your skin, hair, and nails and keeps your body from drying out and keeps germs from getting in. The S in some reminds us of the skeletal system, which included all your bones. The R in really reminds us of the respiratory system, which is mainly your lungs and involves the air you breath in and out. The R in rocky reminds us of the reproductive system, which involves making babies. [You might not want to show the picture for this system.] The L in lakes reminds us of the lymphatic system (part of the immune system), which defends our body against germs.
-Ask, “Which organ system do you make?” [Digestive]
-Let’s review one more time: Particular cells get together to make up what? [tissues] Particular tissues get together to make up what? [organs] Particular organs work together to make up what? [organ systems] How many organ systems are there? [11] What mnemonic device can we use to remember all 11 organ systems?
YOU WILL NEED: Three sheets of paper that have been taped together on which you have written “Digestive System,” an image of a cat and a lake (shown from your phone or laptop would be fine) & book that shows each of the body’s systems a book such as The Human Body by Charles Clayman

The Book We Used to Shows Each of the Body’s Systems

The Human Body (An Illustrated Guide to Its Structure, Function, and Disorders)
The Human Body (An Illustrated Guide to Its Structure, Function, and Disorders)

This is the best book I found that has illustrations of each of the organ systems. For each organ system it has two-page spread outline of person with that system showing up on the person (i.e. for the Nervous System it shows the brains and the nerves going throughout the body). It also includes many interesting illustrations and charts related to each of the systems.

 

Review

14. Review what we learned: Our bodies are made up of about 100 trillion of what? (cells) Name a part of a cell and something you learned about it. [Ask at least 6 different children to answer.] What is the cookbook that tells your cells what to do called? (DNA.) Where is the DNA found in a cell? (nucleus) DNA is made up of building blocks called what? (genes) Name one of the chemical base molecules that is an ingredient in DNA. [Ask 2 children.] (adenine, guanine, cytosine and thymine) What is the name for the DNA shape, which looks like a twisted ladder? (double helix) Particular cells get together to make up what? [tissues] Particular tissues get together to make up what? [organs] Particular organs work together to make up what? [organ systems] How many organ systems are there? [11] Name one of the organ systems. [Ask at least 3 children.] What mnemonic device can we use to remember all 11 organ systems? (Each night my unintelligent cat dives into some really rocky lakes.) What was your favorite activity from today? [Ask each of the children.]

Joke: What did one DNA say to the other?

Stop copying me!

Optional Homework: More Great Picture Books on Cells That We Read and Enjoyed

Also look for "Microexplorers: Cell Works" by Patrick Bauerle and Norbert Landa. It goes into great detail about the parts of the cell and how DNA works. The illustrations are attractive enough that even though it has lots of text, even my younger children (ages 3 and 5) enjoyed listening to this book.

The Basics of Cell Life with Max Axiom, Super Scientist (Graphic Science)
The Basics of Cell Life with Max Axiom, Super Scientist (Graphic Science)

This is not specific to human cells. My boys (ages 9 and 5) especially loved this book as it was in comic book format. It's similar to the Magic School Bus series, but is a step above in the content provided. Even my 3 year old enjoyed this book. It is not Christian, so a few words need to be changed. This was probably our favorite book on cells. If you are using this lesson for just your family or for a small group, this would be another great option to read aloud. Because it has smaller illustrations, it would not be ideal for reading to a larger group of children.

 
Enjoy Your Cells (Enjoy Your Cells Series Book 1)
Enjoy Your Cells (Enjoy Your Cells Series Book 1)

This provides lots of information in a nice picture book format. The author isn't a Christian. so you will need to change some words. Also look for "Cells Are Us" by the same author.

 
Parts of a Cell lapbook from cyncesplace.com
Parts of a Cell lapbook from cyncesplace.com

Optional Homework: Human Cell Lapbook

If desired, have children complete the lapbook pages on the human cell found at www.cyncesplace.com/ . This site offers a nice FREE lapbook on the human cell along with some great video clips.

Materials Used in the Lesson

Items to Assign to Families to Bring For Their Children:
-a quart-sized Ziplock bag half-filled with either unset jell-o or Karo syrup. Be sure to write your child’s name on the outside of the bag. Make sure to securely close the bag! *If desired, you can fill the bag after you get to co-op. (This will be used to make a model of a cell. The children will be adding candy to it. If you want your child to eat this after co-op, you will want to use jell-o rather than Karo syrup.)
-a copy of this cell coloring page: http://www.biologycorner.com/worksheets/cellcolor.html . (At the top of the page, you can cross off “Animal” where it says “Animal Cell Coloring” and write in “Human.”)
-crayons, markers, or colored pencils
-a copy of directions for making edible DNA found on p. 9 from http://teach.genetics.utah.edu/content/begin/dna/Have%20Your%20DNA%20and%20Eat%20It%20Too.pdf . It does not need to be printed in color. (1 copy for every 2-3 children.)

Items to Be Assigned For Families to Bring for the Entire Group:
-a sweater, jacket, or other clothing item
-a book about cells and DNA such Have a Nice DNA by Fran Balkwill or I Know How My Cells Make Me Grow by Kate Rowan
-this picture of a cell printed in color or printed and colored by you ahead of time: http://www.biologycorner.com/worksheets/cellcolor_key.html and a book showing the parts of the cell magnified under a microscope such as Photographic Atlas of the Body by Arran Frood or The Human Body Close-Up by John Clancy
-PER CHILD: 1 plum or cherry without the stem (or a large seeded grape if those are not available), a teaspoon of cookie/cake sprinkles (not colored sugar), 2 gummy worms (can have 1 with sugar and 1 without sugar if you want to have smooth and rough endoplasmic reticulum), 3 small match-stick size cut-out strips of fruit roll up, 2 Skittles (or other round candy), 4 Mike & Ike or Hot Tamale candies (or other rod-shaped candy), 1 napkin, and hand sanitizer, & additional items brought by students/families: ziplock quart size bag half full of unset jell-o or Karo syrup
-Option 1: microscope, toothpick, pipette, food dye (or buy a more concentrated dye like methylene blue or malachite green from the fish department at a pet store), microscope slide with cover, strip of paper towel, Option 2: microscope with a prepared slide that includes a cell such as a cheek cell, or Option 3: a computer/phone to show the picture of magnified cheek cells found at http://science.tjc.edu/Course/BIOLOGY/1408/cellstructure.htm
-a cookbook and a picture of DNA (from the Internet or from a book)
-PER CHILD: 2 pieces of red licorice, at least 12 toothpicks, at least 9 of each different color of small colored marshmallows (orange, yellow, pink, & green), a napkin, and a sandwich bag [Tip: one 10 ounce bag of colored miniature marshmallows contains enough for about 10 children.]
-pictures of various types of human body cells using pictures from the Internet or from a book such as "Photographic Atlas of the Body" by Arran Frood
-Cell cards: Use quarter sheets of paper or 3X5 index cards and label them as follows: Using a purple marker or crayon write “blood cell” on 2 cards, “nerve cell” on 2 cards, and “muscle cell” on 2 cards. Using a red marker or crayon, write “fat cell” on 4 cards and “blood cell” on 3 cards. Using a blue marker or crayon, write “nerve cell” on 4 cards and “muscle cell” on 2 cards. Using a green marker or crayon write “muscle cell” on 4 cards and “epithelial cell” on 2 cards.
-Tissue cards: Use half sheets of paper or 4x6 (not 3X5) index cards and label them as follows: Using a purple marker or crayon write “blood tissue” on one card, “nerve tissue” on 1 card, and “smooth muscle tissue” on 1 card. Using a red marker or crayon, write “fat (connective) tissue” on 1 card and “blood tissue” on 1 card. Using a blue marker or crayon, write “nerve tissue” on 1 card and “muscle tissue” on 1 card. Using a green marker or crayon write “smooth muscle tissue” on 1 card and “epithelial tissue” on 1 card.
-Organ cards: Print a large picture of a human tongue, liver, stomach, and small intestine from the internet and paste each picture to the specific color of a full-size sheet of construction paper. A picture of a tongue should be on a blue sheet, a picture of a liver should be on a red sheet, a picture of a stomach should be on a green sheet, and a picture of the small intestine should be on a purple sheet. Alternatively, you could simply use 4 sheets of white paper and draw each of the 4 organs using the specified color. You and draw the tongue using a blue marker/crayon, a liver using a red marker/crayon, a stomach using a green marker/crayon, and a small intestine using a purple marker/crayon.
-Three sheets of paper that have been taped together on which you have written “Digestive System,” an image of a cat and a lake (shown from your phone or laptop would be fine) & book that shows each of the body’s systems a book such as The Human Body by Charles Clayman

Great Resources I Used with My Family During This Unit: How We Learned the Parts of the Body Using Songs

Lyrical Life Science Vol. 3 : The Human Body
Lyrical Life Science Vol. 3 : The Human Body

Throughout our unit on the human body we listened to the CD's from Lyrical Life Science. They are catchy tunes with plenty of substantial scientific material in them! This is the great workbook that goes along with the CD.

 

Textbook or Family Read-Aloud Book We Used

Exploring Creation with Human Anatomy and Physiology (Young Explorer Series)
Exploring Creation with Human Anatomy and Physiology (Young Explorer Series)

This is the book I used with my family as we studied this unit. I read a short section to them each day. It would be a great book to use if you wanted to use a Christian textbook for this entire unit.

 

Good Cells and DNA YouTube Videos

Symphony of Science has beautiful footage of DNA set to lovely music, but beware that the Symphony of Science music video and Bill Nye the Science Guy both promote evolution.

Symphony of Science

Bill Nye on Cells and DNA

Good Videos on Cell Theory & the History of How Cells Were Discovered

Cell Theory

Teacher Scripts: Appendix A & Appendix B

Edible DNA model and the "ingredients"
Edible DNA model and the "ingredients"

Appendix A: Edible Cell Model Teacher Script

-Each child will need a quart-size ziplock bag of jell-o (not set or partially set) or Karo syrup and a napkin of candies.

-Ask, “What do you think the plastic bag represents?” The plastic bag is the cell membrane. [Have children repeat “cell membrane.”] It is like the guard gate or the shipping and receiving department of a factory. The cell membrane lets things out and keeps things in. The cell membrane is the outermost part of the cell that controls what enters and exits the cell just as the zip-lock on this bag can open to let the candy in or close to keep the jello from falling out. The cell membrane is semipermeable [Have children say “semipermeable.”] Semipermeable means that it allows some substances to pass into the cell and blocks other substances from entering the cell. What do you think it lets in? [water and the gases oxygen and carbon dioxide]. It does not let in the food we eat (protein, fat, or starch). Our bag is made of plastic. What do you think the cell membrane is made of? It is composed of a double layer of fat and proteins.

- Ask, “What do you think the jell-o or syrup represents?” The jell-o/syrup is thecytoplasm. [Have children say “cytoplasm.”] The cytoplasm is kind of like jello or jelly. It fills the cell and keeps it steady. It is where the organelles, or cell parts, are located. Remember, it is like the floor of the factory.

- Have the children each pick up their cherry and put it into the bag. Tell them it represents the nucleus. [Have the children say “nucleus.”] The nucleus controls the cell, with the DNA it works quite well. It regulates and directs all the activities in the cell. It helps the cell to grow, reproduce, and divide. It is spherical, or ball-shaped, and contains many organelles, or cell parts, including the nucleolus. [Have the children say “nucleolus.”] The cherry pit represents the nucleolus. The nucleolus makes ribosomes. Ask, “Who remembers what ribosomes make?” Yes, they make protein. The nucleus controls many of the functions of the cell by controlling protein production. The nucleus also contains DNA assembled into chromosomes. The nucleus is surrounded by the nuclear membrane. [Have the children say “nuclear membrane.”] The skin of the cherry represents the nuclear membrane.

- Have the children each pick up their cookie/cake sprinkles and put them into the bag. Tell them these are the ribosomes. [Have the children say “ribosomes.”] Ribosomes are factories inside the cells in our bodies which produce proteins by a process called protein synthesis. They are filled with RNA, which are the instructions that tell how each protein is made.

- Have the children each pick up their gummy worms and put them into the bag. Tell them these are the endoplasmic reticulum . [Have the children say “endoplasmic reticulum.”] (If you want to differentiate Smooth ER and Rough ER, you will need gummy worms with sugar and without sugar on the outside. The ones with sugar on the outside are the ones with ribosomes and are the Rough ER. The ones without sugar on the outside are the Smooth ER.) Once the proteins leave the ribosomes they enter a Rough ER to be packaged in membrane sacs. Then they enter the Golgi Apparatus where Lysosomes (our cell's garbage disposals) and unwanted waste products are added to the membrane sacs. They will either be recycled or removed from the cell. Like you saw in the picture of the cell, the ER contain a vast system of interconnected, membranous sacks. It transports materials through the cell just like an assembly line and moves newly-made proteins and fats (lipids), which are sent to the cell membrane, lysosomes, or Golgi apparatus.

- Have the children each pick up their fruit roll-up pieces, place them on top of each other, and fold them into an s-shape. It does not need to be perfect. Have them put them into the bag. Tell them these are the Golgi apparatus. [Have the children say “Golgi apparatus.”] It stores and packages protein and carbohydrates for export from the cell. The Golgi apparatus is a flattened, layered, sac-like organelle that looks like a stack of pancakes and is located near the nucleus. It produces the membranes that surround the lysosomes. Ask, "Who remembers what the lysosomes do?"

- Have the children each pick up their Skittles and put them into the bag. Tell them these are the lysosomes. [Have the children say “lysosome.”] Lysosomes are round organelles surrounded by a membrane and contain digestive enzymes. This is where the digestion of cell nutrients takes place. They are like the garbage disposal system of the cell. They get rid of invading material and bacteria within the cell.

- Have the children each pick up their Mike & Ikes or Hot Tamales and put them into the bag. Tell them these are the mitochondria. [Have the children say “mitochondria.”] Mitochondria are our batteries. They are the power plant of the cell, making energy for the cell to function. They change energy stored in glucose/sugar into ATP (adenosine triphosphate), which is the energy the cell need to do its work.

Our body's cookbook: DNA
Our body's cookbook: DNA

Appendix B: Our Body's Cookbook: DNA Teacher Script

[Hold up a picture of DNA.] Our bodies are made up of about 100 trillion cells. Ask the children, “How many cells make up our body?”

-Each cell is an amazing self-contained unit, and yet they all work together to make up one “you.” We began with one cell. Within that one cell was all the information to make you. Your height, eye and hair color, if you can roll your tongue, and much more. God wrote it within your cells. Your cell began to divide and multiply, and they began to specialize. Some cells became your lungs, others became your hands, others became your heart, and so on.

-[Hold up a cookbook.] Every cell in your body contains a cookbook for you called DNA that tells it what is should do. Ask, “What is the cookbook that tells your cells what to do called?” Have everyone say, “DNA.”

-DNA stands for DeoxyriboNucleic Acid. Have everyone say, “Deoxy...ribo…Nucleic…Acid.” We’re just going to call it DNA for the rest of the class, though.

-Within the nucleus of each cell is the recipe, or DNA, for that cell. Ask, “Where is the DNA found in a cell?”

-Our DNA contains all the instructions for creating us. Just like a cookbook contains directions for many different dishes such as steak, mashed potatoes, pancakes, or chocolate cake, our DNA contains directions for all of our parts (our heart, stomach, brain, skin, and more). It contains instructions for creating skin, hair, heart, kidney and other kinds of cells. From hair color, to ear shape, to whether or not we will have dimples, God included the directions in our DNA. Every cell has the entire cookbook. It has all the recipes or information for all the cells, but God made them so that they know which one recipe to use in each cell. The DNA only uses the part needed to make the particular type of cell it is.

-All the DNA is squished tightly together in the nucleus of each cell. If it were stretched from end to end, it would reach from the earth to the sun, not one time but 800 times!

-Do you know how many ingredients each of the DNA recipes has? It has basically four ingredients. Ask, “How many?” DNA is made up of building blocks called genes. Have everyone say, “Genes.” Each gene contains a sugar and a phosphate as well as one of four types of ingredients or base molecules: adenine, guanine, cytosine and thymine. Repeat each one after me: adenine…guanine… cytosine…thymine.

Ready for the next lesson?

Edible DNA model from Lesson 1
Edible DNA model from Lesson 1

Create edible DNA models, made models of the insides of bones, dissect deer organs, create a working model of the respiratory system, play immune system freeze tag, and more in this fun 7-8 lesson unit on human anatomy! (An optional lesson on genetics and DNA is included.)

  • Genetics Lesson – This is an optional but very worthwhile lesson for the Human Anatomy Unit Study. Use M&M's to determine genetic traits, extract DNA from a strawberry using normal household materials, create edible DNA strands using marshmallows and licorice, design dog breeds as you select alleles, and more in this fun lesson on Genetics!
  • Skeletal and Muscular Systems Lesson - This is part 2 of a 7 part hands-on unit study on anatomy of the human body. Create models of bone parts, use stickers to label the bones on your body, dissect soup bones, measure the range of motion of your joints, and more!
  • Nervous System Lesson - This is part 3 of a 7 part hands-on unit study on anatomy of the human body. Create a clay model of the brain, twist together a pipe cleaner neuron, train your reflexes, dissect a deer brain and a cow eyeball (optional), and more!
  • Digestive System Lesson - This is part 4 of a 7 part hands-on unit study on anatomy of the human body. Demonstrate how each part of the digestive system works using crackers, pantyhose, create teeth molds, prepare and eat a salad while discussing healthy eating habits, and more!
  • Circulatory System Lesson - This is part 5 of a 7 part hands-on unit study on anatomy of the human body. Walk through your circulatory system, create a blood model and fake movie blood, measure your heart rate, dissect a heart, and more!
  • Respiratory System Lesson - This is part 6 of a 7 part hands-on unit study on anatomy of the human body. Create a lung model, measure lung capacity, dissect a lung, play a respiratory relay race, and more!
  • Immune System Lesson - This is part 7 of a 7 part hands-on unit study on anatomy of the human body. Play immune system freeze tag, watch how germs spread, observe bacteria under a microscope, and more! These lessons are geared toward 4th-5th grade level children and their.
  • Human Body Unit Study Presentations and Field Trip Ideas - This is the culminating activity for the 7 part hands-on unit study on anatomy of the human body. Children presented game show themed games related to the human body or other creative presentations, and we had a systems-of-the-human-body-themed meal. Recipes are included! Also included are the field trips we attended during this unit.

Looking for all of my lessons?

Over the years I have posted over 30 science and social-studies based unit studies, compromised of more than 140 lessons. The unit studies include the Human Body, Simple Machines, Earth Science, Medieval Period, American Revolution, Pioneer Life, Countries of the World, and many more! For each lesson I have included activities (with photos), our favorite books and YouTube video clips, lapbook links, and other resources. I posted links to all of my unit studies and lessons at Fun, FREE Hands-On Unit Studies Hub .

Konos Volume III
Konos Volume III

My Springboard for This Lesson: Konos Curriculum

Would you like to teach this way every day?

I use Konos Curriculum as a springboard from which to plan my lessons. It's a wonderful Christian curriculum and was created by moms with active children! You can even watch free on-line videos as Jessica, one of the co-authors of Konos, walks you through a unit. (Look for the Explanation Videos tab.) You can find out more by cutting and pasting this web address: http://www.konos.com/www/index.html .

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© 2012 iijuan12

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    • flycatcherrr profile image

      flycatcherrr 5 years ago

      I just plain love the whole concept of edible science projects!

      *blessed*

    • DianaHarper LM profile image

      DianaHarper LM 5 years ago

      The DNA model would make a great mini-assessment for my daughter (and I'm sure her brothers wouldn't mind, either). Liked. Blessed by a Squid Angel.

    • gottaloveit2 profile image

      gottaloveit2 5 years ago

      What a great niche you've created. Informative and interesting articles.

    • VSP profile image

      VSP 5 years ago

      Great page. Will feature it on my Facebook page /HomeschoolPreschoolthruHighschool on June 8th in honor of DNA's discovers birthday.

    • profile image

      getmoreinfo 4 years ago

      Great information I love it.

    • iijuan12 profile image
      Author

      iijuan12 4 years ago from Florida

      @getmoreinfo: Thank you!

    • profile image

      JoshK47 4 years ago

      A very well-constructed lesson! Blessed by a SquidAngel!

    • iijuan12 profile image
      Author

      iijuan12 4 years ago from Florida

      @JoshK47: Thank you so much!

    • publicdomain lm profile image

      publicdomain lm 4 years ago

      I love your lesson plans! You've inspired me. I think we're totally going to do edible homeschooling this year!

    • iijuan12 profile image
      Author

      iijuan12 4 years ago from Florida

      @publicdomain lm: Great! Thank you! It's wonderful getting to eat your school projects!

    • cynthiaspages profile image

      cynthiaspages 4 years ago

      Great lens. I plan on adding it to my cell lapbook & notebooking pages after Christmas. Thanks for including my lapbook on your lens. :) Have a Merry Christmas.

    • iijuan12 profile image
      Author

      iijuan12 4 years ago from Florida

      @cynthiaspages: Thank you!

    • qikey1 lm profile image

      qikey1 lm 3 years ago

      I love your edible DNA and cell idea. I always have had such a difficult time relating those two concepts to the kids other than by using pics or books! Great Lens. Thanks!

    • iijuan12 profile image
      Author

      iijuan12 3 years ago from Florida

      @qikey1 lm: Thank you so much for visiting! I'm glad you found it to be helpful!

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