Cell Command Teacher Guide - Major Cell Organelles

Major Cell Organelles

Time Required



Students will discuss the structure and function of animal cells and how knowledge of organelles is important when playing Cell Command.
Students will investigate animal cell structure by making a 3-D cell model.



PencilColored pencils


Computer and Internet accessLarge polystyrene foam ball (approximately 8 inches in diameter), cut in halfPipe cleanersBeadsModeling clay or playdough8 x 11 sheet of paper


Gather materials for the hands-on activity. Cut each foam ball in half using a sharp knife or box cutter.

Warm Up: Think-Pair-Share: What Do You Know about Organelle Functions?

Distribute colored pencils and have students complete the Think-Pair-Share activity in the Student Guide. Instruct students to complete question 1 individually, and then divide them into pairs to answer question 2. Discuss the responses as a class.

Project the image below on a whiteboard or distribute copies to each student. The image appears in the Appendix.

Review the major organelles and their functions as you point to each structure in the diagram.

  • Cell membrane: a thin layer that surrounds a cell; this layer separates and protects the inside of the cell from harmful agents around the cell and controls what moves in and out of the cell.
  • Lysosome: breaks down waste materials in an animal cell.
  • Nucleus: the information center of a cell that controls the chemical reactions that happen in cytoplasm; also stores DNA.
  • Nucleolus: a round structure that is inside the nucleus of a cell; this structure makes ribosomes.
  • Nuclear membrane: separates the nucleus from the rest of the cell; regulates substances that move in and out of the nucleus.
  • Vacuole: stores food, water, and wastes.
  • Mitochondrion: converts food into usable energy.
  • Golgi body: processes, packs, and transports proteins to be sent outside a cell.
  • Ribosomes: make proteins for a cell.
  • Endoplasmic reticulum: processes and transports proteins from place to place inside a cell.
  • Cytoplasm: a jellylike substance that fills up the inside of a cell.
  • Centrosome: the region of a cell that is located next to the nucleus and contains the centrioles.


Have students play Cell Command with their partners for approximately 30 minutes. Students should continue where they left off with the previous game by clicking the resume button. At this point, you may want to encourage students to play specific cell stations, such as the Duplication Station or the Ribosome Station, to explore particular cell functions.

Pause and Think

Ask students to pause the game after about 15 minutes, and ask them to share how the experience is different from the previous game play sessions. Ask the following questions related to organelles:

  • What is the role of ribosomes in the Ribosome Station?
    The ribosomes were used to assemble proteins by completing peptide chains with the appropriate amino acid sequences.
  • What is the role of the mitochondria in the Mitochondrion Station?
    The mitochondria were used to digest food molecules and generate energy in the form of ATP for the cell.
  • What is the role of the cell membrane in the Membrane Station?
    The cell membrane was used to keep harmful materials from entering the cell and to allow healthy materials to enter.
  • Discuss the role of any other organelles in stations that you have completed.
    Answers will vary.
  • What materials could you use to model the organelles?
    Answers will vary.

Game Discusson

Discuss students’ responses to questions A and B as a class.

Hands-On Activity: 3-D Cell Model

Have students read the activity description in the Student Guide as you distribute the materials. In addition to the materials listed, you may distribute other items that can be used to mimic cell organelles. If polystyrene balls aren't available, students can draw an outline, representing a cell wall, and place the materials within it to represent organelles. Let students know that they can refer to the cell diagram from earlier in the lesson, but they should try to use it as little as possible. As students work on their models, circulate to help as needed.

Exit Slip

Have students complete the Exit Slip activity in the Student Guide and submit the activity before leaving the classroom. Review the student responses before the next lesson.