Homeschool Biology: Cells


Welcome to our homeschool biology lesson about cells! Being a nurse by profession, I have been eagerly awaiting our study of biology.  This Apologia Anatomy and Physiology book is one that we will languish in, take our time over and, I’m sure, thoroughly enjoy!  (I mean, who doesn’t like learning about themselves?).  We treated ourselves this time and bought the note-book to go with our studies.  The

Human Biology Cells

Apologia Anatomy and Physiology Text Book

The first thing we did was read the chapter aloud.  I did this over two or three sessions.  I had the children narrate back to me what I had read.  This is helpful first in ensuring that they listen and secondly making sure they heard and understood.  At the end of each read aloud session I had them watch an episode of Newton’s workshop:

 These were so worth the money we paid for them.  They are a little old fashioned but are Christian in content and so very clear, helping the children understand sometimes complex subjects.  And they were perfect for our little homeschool biology lesson on cells! Lillie, 9, after watching the DNA one, wanted to write an essay on genetics; she was so excited to understand why our family had different coloured hair and eye colour.

At the end of the chapter we went through the narration questions again, for revision.  In each chapter there are ‘Try This!’ ideas, all of which we attempted.  There are many things included in the notebook: we do love the lap book pieces, and their succinctness is perfect for science.

More Hands on than Writing

We do A LOT of writing for our history studies.  For science, understanding and application is more important.  So I tend to go overboard with hands on activities, reinforcing their knowledge and understanding that way, and go underboard with writing activities!

Homeschool Biology: Making a Human Cell Model

  • An Edible Cell

For our reinforcement activities, we started by making our own edible cell.  Now let me tell you, anything remotely edible is a huge hit in this household!

girls making an edible cell
Mixing the jelly cytoplasm
girl and boy making an edible cell
After the jelly was set we started placing in the sweets that represented each organelle
homeschool biology cells
Lillie 9 (in her viking hat)
homeschool biology cells
Charlotte 9 cutting her jelly
homeschool biology cells
Lillie’s cell
homeschool biology cells
Thomas’ (10) and Charlotte’s (9) cell
homeschool biology cells
A close up of a human cell model
  • A Plastercene Cell

Next up we decided to make a model of our cell city using different coloured play dough( I can’t believe I’m 38 and get to have so much fun!!):

Homeschool Biology cells
Just loved this!

And with labels:

homeschool biology cells
  • Egg Model of a Cell

An egg is a simple version of a single cell with the yoke as the nucleus.  We soaked two eggs in vinegar over 24 hrs, rinsed them and re-soaked for another 24 hrs and re-rinsed.  Apologies for the photos, I really need to take a course in photography!

eggs soaking in vinegar
Eggs soaking in vinegar
The egg shell fizzing away
Washing the eggs
Resoaking – the eggs are now white instead of brown

This dissolved the solid egg shell, leaving behind the cell membrane, enclosed around the ‘cytoplasm’ (egg white) and the ‘nucleus’ (yolk).  We talked about the membrane being semi permeable, letting only certain substances through the pores.  We then placed one egg in pure water and the other in heavily salted water and hypothesised about the results.

Eggs as a model of a cell
One egg soaking in salty water and one in pure water
Homeschool Biology cells
Not a huge difference, the one on the left (salty) was slightly smaller than the one on the right (pure water)

Colouring a Human Cell

We also did a bit of colouring in using this book:

Biology colouring in book

And here are the finished sheets:

colouring in sheets of a cell
Our three cells, all coloured in

Looking at Cell Organelles Under a Microscope

To finish up our homeschool biology study on cells, I gave the children some cell organelle slides.  We had a screened microscope that we were blessed to find at a charity shop, so we used that to look at the slides:

Homeschool Biology cells
Looking at some cytology cells on a screen microscope
cell organelles under a microscope
Preparing the cytology slides
cell organelles under a microscope
The flash spoilt the picture a little, but this is the DNA slide

Consolidating their Cell Knowledge

I always, no matter what we study, beg steal or borrow (actually usually I just buy off Amazon!) lots of books to read for reinforcement.  I think reading around a subject puts it in context of the bigger picture.

Homeschool Biology cells
My gorgeous son

And just for a bit of fun and a taster of things to come I let them have a play with this set:

human body biology set
girl playing with a human body anatomy set

The Story of Science DVD

The very last thing we did was watch the bonus episode  on the cell on my son’s ‘The Story of Science’ DVD:

The story of science

This was a great homeschool biology lesson all about cells! We’re learning about bones next!


  1. I love the work you do with the kids. I wish I’d had so much fun at school. Reinforcing learning with practical activities is the way to go!

  2. I’m slowly pulling away from our bound curriculums too. I love our Apologia and our history ones, but I’m growing to dislike our history notebook.
    I’m with you on loving the Apologia one (at least the Junior, haven’t seen the older one) because it’s rather freeform in what they ask you to fill out.
    I love the play dough cells and all of your different ideas.

    Thanks for linking up to Science Sunday!

  3. What an amazing study! I am so excited to teach Anatomy. We already do some reading about the major organs of the body, but it would be awesome to have a microscope! It makes me want to do a lesson tomorrow. Thanks for sharing at Mom’s Library.

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