Making science come alive in the classroom is important because it helps keep students engaged. By fifth grade, most students begin to learn some biology basics, including what a plant cell is and how it’s structured. While many plant cell project ideas and lessons are geared toward upper elementary school students, the simpler concepts can be taught to younger students using supplies like play dough.
Whether you have your students create 3D plant cell projects in school or as part of a take-home assignment, they can really help kids better understand cells and their organelles. A plant cell project can be complicated (stitching a cell), but many are fairly easy and require little more than the supplies you likely already have on hand.
3D Plant Cell Projects
1. Jelly Plant Cell Model
First, you’ll need to make Jell-O in a lightly greased container. Then, you’ll add candies to represent each organelle. Finally, use toothpicks and stickers to label everything. Bonus: Once you’re finished, you get to eat the leftover candy!
Learn more: Jell-O Plant Cell Model at Science Sparks
2. Clay Model
Grab some Air-Dry Modeling Clay and then get building! Print out the various names of the parts of the cell, including the cell wall and membrane, and then create little flags out of them with toothpicks.
3. Altoids Model
These Altoids tins make for the perfect and oh-so adorably pocket-sized home for a mini 3D plant cell model. You can use card stock to make the various parts of the model and then use two layers of mounting tape or craft foam to make it pop.
Learn more: 3D Mint Tin Cell Model at Teacher Thrive
4. Cardboard Plant Cell Model
This one is somewhat time-consuming, but it requires little more than some recycled cardboard and construction paper or card stock. If a younger child is doing this project, you’ll want an adult to handle the X-Acto knife.
5. Plant Cell Model From Seeds
This 3D plant cell project will take a while, but the results will be well worth it. We especially love the idea of using seeds to create the various parts of the plant cell!
6. LEGO Plant Cell
Kids love LEGO so why not incorporate them into your science unit on plant and animal cells?
7. Plant Cell Cake
This idea is so creative and all you need is a cake pan, frosting, and some candy. Add some toothpicks with labels and your delicious cake just became educational!
8. Stitched Model
You’ll definitely want to have sewing experience before tackling this plant cell project. Since it is time-consuming and requires skill, we think it would be perfect for a handy teacher to create to use as a teaching tool.
Learn more: Stitched Plant Cell at Becky Button
9. Peanut Butter Cell
Another edible option! This one is so simple that it will be easy for young kids to recreate. Since some kids have peanut allergies, you can replace the peanut butter with a more allergy-friendly spread. And you’ll have a tasty treat once the learning is done!
Learn more: Edible Cell Model for Elementary School at Adventures in Mommydom
10. Play-Doh Model
Kids love playing with Play-Doh, so they will really enjoy creating an animal or plant cell in different colors. We especially love that supplies are minimal. Creating each individual part of the plant cell will help kids remember their names and purposes.
Learn more: Introducing Animal and Plant Cells to Kids at Spongy Kids
11. Whole-Class Plant Model
This idea takes a 3D plant cell project to the next level! Students are divided into groups by organelles and then they need to create a blueprint for and build their plant cell component to scale. The giant plant cell is created from clear painter’s drop cloths and then inflated using fans. This activity will engage all your students while also being fun and educational.
Learn more: Biology Students and the Giant Plant Cell at Teachers Network
Other Plant Cell Projects
12. Plant Cell Drawing Tutorial
Kids love to follow drawing tutorials, and this one will be no exception. The muscle memory involved in actually drawing each part should help them with remembering the various components of the plant cell.
13. Rock ‘n Learn Video
This cute video uses relatable characters to teach about the different parts of a plant cell while also highlighting the differences between plant and animal cells.
14. Two-Minute Lesson
This is another video lesson, but this one is geared toward slightly older kids. It’s a great video for kids to bookmark so they can refresh their memories later.
15. Shrinky Dinks Model
Shrinky Dinks have been around for decades, so many teachers and parents probably remember crafting with them at some point in their childhood. They are essentially thin sheets of plastic that you cut and color and then bake in an oven. Once baked, you have a tiny version of what you created.
Learn more: Shrinky Dinks Cell Models at Teacher Thrive
16. Cut-and-Paste Worksheet
These worksheets are a great way to introduce the concept of a plant cell and the various organelles. Grab scissors and glue sticks and get to work learning about plant cells and their organelles!
Learn more: Free Build-Your-Own Animal and Plant Cell Worksheet at You’ve Got This Math
17. A Complete Lesson Plan
This is a complete lesson plan that has students travel to different stations while learning all about animal and plant cells. Students will learn different things when making their way through the four E’s in this plan—engagement, exploration, explanation, and elaboration.
Learn more: Plant and Animal Cell Lesson at Kesler Science