Beacon Lesson Plan Library


Kelly Toomey


Students compare and contrast the structures of a plant cell and an animal cell by creating a graphic organizer and a food model in preparation for writing an essay comparing and contrasting the two kinds of cells.


The student establishes a purpose for writing (including but not limited to informing, entertaining, explaining).

The student focuses on a central idea or topic (for example, excluding loosely related, extraneous, or repetitious information).

The student generally follows the conventions of punctuation, capitalization, and spelling appropriate at fifth-grade or higher level.

The student knows the parts of plants and animal cells.

The student uses strategies to review, compare and contrast, and critique scientific investigations.

The student constructs models to compare objects in science.


-Venn Diagram graphic organizer sheet - one for each student (see attached file)
-Cell Vocabulary Sheet
-Notebook paper
-English muffins (two for each student)
-Pizza sauce
-Small bacon pieces
-Green Peppers
-Paper plates
-Microwave oven or stove


1. Make a copy of Venn Diagram graphic organizer for each student (see attached file)
2. Make a transparency of Cell Vocabulary sheet (see attached file)
3. Pizzas must be cooked for Day 2.
5. One copy of the scoring rubric for each student (see attached file).


Day 1
1. Lesson Introduction: The teacher introduces the lesson by holding up an English muffin and asking the students what the object is. After students respond, explain to them that it will not be an English muffin for very long.

2. Discuss with students the two different kinds of cells: plant and animal. Introduce and discuss basic cell vocabulary (see attached file). Also discuss whether each cell part applies to a plant cell, animal cell, or both and the function of each. Have students copy vocabulary notes in their notebooks/folders, etc. They will use this information at a later date.

3. Pass out a copy of the Venn Diagram (see attached file) graphic organizer to each student.

4. Explain to the students that a Venn Diagram is used to compare and contrast two different things. In this case we will be comparing and contrasting plant and animal cells.

5. Explain that the two circles will be used to organize the differences of the two cells. The area in the middle of the overlapping circles is used to record the similarities of the two cells.

6. Students now complete the Venn Diagram individually.

7. When students have completed the Venn Diagram, have them trade with a partner. The partners will check the Venn Diagrams for accuracy of information and to be sure that the information is in the right location.

8. After the peer corrections have been completed, the diagram is returned to its original owner. Partners explain the corrections that need to be made to the owner of the diagram.

9. The teacher collects the Venn Diagrams and checks them to be sure all have followed the proper format and contain accurate information.

Day 2
1. Return Venn diagrams to students and go over commonly found mistakes.

2. Review the parts of animal and plant cells orally.

3. Explain to the students that they will be constructing two of their own cells. They will create a plant cell and an animal cell out of food items to make a mini pizza.

4. Explain to students that they will have several ingredients with which to make their cell pizzas. They will have to determine which ingredients are best suited for each part of the cell. The first cell pizza they will make will be a plant cell. The second pizza will be an animal cell. They must include at least six cell parts/ingredients on each pizza.

5. Pass out a paper plate on which students create their cell pizzas.

6. Pass out two English muffins per student and a few of each of the other ingredients (pepperoni, sausage, cheese, mushroom, etc.).

7. When all students have all of their materials they may begin making their cell pizzas. As soon as they are finished, they will draw two diagrams, labeling the parts of each of their 'pizza cells' and what each ingredient represents.

8. Teacher will cook pizzas at school (these may be prepared in a microwave or conventional oven).

9. Students may now have a cell-a-bration and eat their pizzas!

Day 3
1. Briefly review with students the basic cell parts of both animal and plant cells by using their diagrams from yesterday.

2. Explain to students that they will compose a four paragraph one shot writing in cursive. Make sure they understand that this means they will not revisit this writing. They will be comparing and contrasting plant and animal cells. They will use the Venn diagrams they have created as a guide.

3. Explain that their first paragraph will be an introduction. The second paragraph will discuss the differences between the two kinds of cells. The third paragraph will go into the similarities of plant and animal cells. The fourth and final paragraph will be the conclusion. The teacher at this point should review characteristics of good introductions and conclusions and go over transition words such as first, second, third, next, last, also, etc.

4. Give students the remainder of the class period to work on their writings.


After completing the Beacon Learning Center Lesson, use the following assessment criteria and the rubric found in the Associated File.

1. Determine if the studentís writing focuses on a central idea or topic
2. Determine if the studentís writing is written for the purpose of comparing and contrasting.
3. Determine if the student can identify the parts of plant and animal cells.
Teacher assesses by observing studentsí cell pizzas and by using rubric for the writing assignment.
4. Determine if the student uses strategies to compare and contrast.
5. Determine if the student constructs models to compare objects in science.


1. Students do not need any prior knowledge in the area of plant and animal cells to successfully complete this lesson.
2. As an option, the teacher may choose to have the students share their cell pizzas before they are eaten.
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