Science Sampler: Teaching cell anatomy with a fabric modelby: Michelle Kluka

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One of the most important, yet difficult, life science concepts for students to grasp is that “all life functions of humans and other organisms are carried out by cells” (Lang 1991). Specifically, the function of organelles must be taught so that students can relate them to familiar objects in everyday life. Fabric cell models in cytology education help convey the role of organelles and life science concepts.

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Reviews (5)
  • on Wed Apr 03, 2013 3:08 PM

I am always looking for unique models that I can use to teach science concepts. The ideas in this article definitely fit that bill! This article provides step by step instructions to create a fabric model of a cell. This is a great idea for creating an inexpensive and very unique model. I can't wait to make these for my classroom!

Maureen Stover  (Fayetteville, NC)
Maureen Stover (Fayetteville, NC)

  • on Fri Feb 24, 2012 10:36 AM

Creating an animal cell of fabric has many advantages. It is light in weight, portable, relatively inexpensive and it can serve as a teaching tool to students who have difficulty understanding why the cell is so important to understanding all life functions. This article provides all the steps needed and materials needed to have students create this model. There are two photos showing the parts of the finished product. By having students create this model they learn more than just doing worksheets about the cell and organelles.

Adah  (San Antonio, TX)
Adah (San Antonio, TX)

  • on Sat Mar 13, 2010 9:02 AM

As a fiber artist (I knit, sew and spin wool into yarn), the title of this article appealed to me right away. Sometimes the “quilting” activities I read about seem arbitrary and irrelevant, but using fabric to create a cell model in the classroom is a great idea. Advantages include the wide variety of fiber to use: netting for the semi-permeable cell membrane, yarn and beads for dna strands, etc. In an elementary school classroom, a cell “quilt” or cell “quilt” pillows would be a great addition to the reading corner of the classroom.

Christina B
Christina B

  • on Tue Jun 21, 2011 12:23 PM

The fabric model is another great analogy to help students conceptualize cell organelles. The model isn't perfect, but the author does note areas where misconceptions can arise, and these are important to note. You might even be able to integrate this activity and have the sewing class create these for you!

Wendy Ruchti  (Pocatello, ID)
Wendy Ruchti (Pocatello, ID)

  • on Tue Mar 29, 2011 5:57 PM

This article presents an activity where students construct a model of a cell using fabric and accessories. This activity allows students to go beyond the classroom, plastic cell model and create models they can manipulate. One very positive feature of this activity is the models are relatively inexpensive to create. The author also uses analogies in the choice of materials and design of the model. For example, the mitochondria can have a pocket where a battery can be inserted.

Angelika Fairweather  (Bradenton, FL)
Angelika Fairweather (Bradenton, FL)

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