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					                          Discovery Education unitedstreaming

Cells: Building Blocks of Life
                                                                         ISTE NETS S Standards
Grade 3–5
Lesson Plan                                                            I. Basic Operations and Concepts
                                                                       IV. Technology Communication

Life Science
Students will understand that all living things are composed of cells and about the different parts of a
cell and their functions. They will explain what they observe under a microscope and report their data in
science journals.

Content Standards
    Use scientific skills and processes to explain the dynamic nature of living things, their
      interactions, and the results from the interactions that occur over time.
    Use a variety of strategies and opportunities to understand word meaning and increase
    Acquire, understand, and use new vocabulary.

Learning Objectives
    Use tools to observe and study details of objects.
    Describe cells as the building blocks of life.
    Identify the parts of a plant cell.
    Explain how the parts of a cell function.

Technology Components
    Computer with LCD projector and color printer
    Discovery Education unitedstreaming account
    Presentation software such as Microsoft PowerPoint
    Digital microscope(optional)
    Graphic organizer software such as Inspiration or Kidspiration (optional)
    Classroom Performance System (optional )

For each group of 4–6 students
    microscope and plastic slide
    onion                                                     small cup of water
    forceps                                                   paper towels
    dropper                                                   hand wipes
    dropper

For each student
    Science journal to record observations
                             Discovery Education unitedstreaming

Safety Tip
    Have students wash their hands after handling onions.
    Make sure they do not touch their eyes.

Lesson Starter
    Show students a picture of two dissimilar living things. Download the images and insert them
      into a Microsoft Word or PowerPoint document. Ask students what these living things have in
      common. List responses on the board, chart paper, or in Inspiration.
    Explain that all living things have this in common: They are composed of cells.

Prior Knowledge
    Discuss what students already know about cells. Use a graphic organizer such as Kidspiration
       or Inspiration to create a vocabulary word web, placing the word ―cell‖ in the center. Have
       students list what they know. Prompt with questions that lead to a definition, characteristics, and
       examples of cells. Record responses in the word web.
    Add additional vocabulary terms to the word web: nucleus, cell membrane, cell wall, chloroplast,
       and cytoplasm. Explain that these are parts of a cell, and each performs a different function, just
       as arms, hands, feet, eyes, and ears are parts of the human body that perform different
       functions. Explain that they will learn more about cell parts and their functions.

Present New Content
    Use Microsoft PowerPoint to create a presentation on cells. Include unitedstreaming images
      and video segments.
         o Suggested unitedstreaming content:
                  TLC Elementary School: What Is a Living Thing?, 2004
                  Introducing the Cell, 1997
                  Image: Cell, Plant

           o   After viewing the video, revisit the graphic organizer to add information learned about
           o   Separate students into small groups. Give each group a piece of chart paper divided into
               five sections, one for each vocabulary term. Have the students work together to
               summarize what they learned about each part of the cell. Post the charts and discuss

Independent Learning Experience
    Tell students that they will be observing a plant cell. They will look at the cells in an onion skin
      through a microscope.
    Have students predict what they think the onion cells will look like.
    Have students work in their groups and use the following procedures for observing the cells:
             1. Each group will receive a small piece of onion.
             2. Use forceps to separate the layers to remove a small piece of the skin.
             3. Spread the piece on a microscope slide. Put a drop of water on top.
             4. Observe the onion through the microscope.
                           Discovery Education unitedstreaming

              5. Draw a picture of what you observed and label the parts of the cell. Use paper and
                 colored pencils, or Kid Pix, or Paint.
              6. In your Science Journal with pen, or pencil, or in Word, describe what you observed.

      Extend learning by directing students to view a coloring sheet of a plant cell:
       http://askabiologist.asu.edu/expstuff/pdffiles/pcell8_puzzle.pdf. Ask how this cell is alike and
       different from the cell viewed in the microscope. Generate a question about cells, posting it at
       this site: http://askabiologist.asu.edu/pages/questionform.html, and discussing the information
       available here. Ask how we will know if the information at this site is accurate. To guide this
       discussion, use the CyberGuide Rating for Content Evaluation at
       http://www.cyberbee.com/content.pdf (for older students) and Website Investigator at
       http://www.marilynarnone.com/Website%20Investigator%20Tool.pdf (for younger students).
      Direct students to the article ―Building Blocks of Life‖ at
      From all these sources of information—video, observation, and Web sites—add to your Science
       Journal entries and present them in your small groups. Pictures and data from the Internet may
       be used, following a review of the appropriate use of information found on the Web; see the
       Cyberbee Flash file at http://www.cyberbee.com/cb_copyright.swf.

    Circulate around the room providing feedback to groups.
          o You may also set up a model using a digital microscope so students can compare their
              results to what is on the computer monitor.
    Revisit the graphic organizer about cells and lead a class discussion on new information about
      cells that should be added as a result of what was learned.

    Score the students’ drawings and explanations based on a rubric shared with the students in

    Students can learn about animal cells and compare and contrast their similarities and
      differences with plant cells.

Image: Cell, plant (2004), unitedstreaming: http://www.unitedstreaming.com/

Rainbow Educational Media, Introducing the Cell (1997), unitedstreaming:

Discovery Channel School, TLC Elementary School: What Is a Living Thing? (2004), unitedstreaming:

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