Friday, October 25, 2013

Apologia -- Animal Cell Project

We've found someone to co-op science projects with again this year -- two families actually.  Schnickelfritz loves playing with the kids in both families and now I only have to worry about preparing for every third activity.  I played hostess for Chapter 1 of Apologia's Anatomy and Physiology textbook.  The suggestion in the book is to make a cell model with Jell-O and candy.  I really didn't want to try that with six kids -- 5 being boys.  Instead I found another homeschooling mom that used felt to construct a cell.  So I'm giving credit to Applie's Place for this  (she was doing it for Apologia's high school Biology course though so I guess I'll have to hold on to my model for a few years).

Hooray for me!  A new JoAnn Fabrics opened within reasonable driving distance.  They had felt on sale and I had a 20 percent teacher's discount (normally it's only 15 %).  I bought yardage for the cytoplasm and cell membrane and then used felt squares for all the organelles.  I typed up labels for all the parts and even found clip art to match the image reminders e.g. mitochondria = power plant.  I ran the labels and pictures through a laminator.

My son and I worked to have everything ready when our friends arrived today.

Of course when they first saw it, it wasn't labeled.  I let each kid (starting with the youngest) take a turn adding a label to an organelle.  Once it was correctly labeled, we discussed it's function and added the reminder picture. 

Now my motto is to make learning fun when possible so I came up with two games to reinforce our learning. 

First Game:  We removed all the labels, pictures, and felt objects, leaving just the cell membrane and cytoplasm base.  One mom shuffled the labels and called them out one at a time.  Each kid was timed to see how quickly he/she could reconstruct the cell in the order given.  If they made a mistake, the item had to be removed.  I started with the oldest kid this time and worked down so that the youngest would benefit by watching everyone before him--and of course he earned bragging rights for beating his oldest brother.  Everyone wanted to play this again so second round we added the reminder pictures.  If DNA or nucleolus came up randomly before the nucleus, they had to pick those objects up and place them on the nucleus when it was called. 

Second Game:  The felt objects we left, unlabeled, on the cell.  I described the function of the organelle and then the kids had to grab for it.  Sometimes there was enough, or almost enough to go around.  Other times there was only one of the object.  This got a little crazy -- have you ever played spoons?   We had to call a halt to the game because I had family coming over for dinner and didn't have time to clean blood out of the carpet.

This whole activity kept the kids engaged for 45 minutes.  Everyone had fun and learned something for the 13 year old down to his 7 year old brother.

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