Homework Helper: How to build a 3-D Animal Cell Model

Is there a science project in your future? Not to worry! Earlier this week, I shared how to make a 3-D Plant Cell Model, and today I have a tutorial for making a 3-D Model of an Animal Cell. I wish I’d had these tutorials a few years ago when my daughter had to DIY a 3-D Animal Cell Model.  When your child, friend, neighbor or someone else puts up an “SOS, we have to make a 3-D model of a cell”, point them to Crafts ‘n Coffee.

Save this tutorial -- DIY a model of an animal cell. CraftsnCoffee.com

To make a 3-D Animal Cell Model, you will need:

  • STYROFOAM™ Brand Foam: one each 10”, 3” and 1-1/2” balls
  • Acrylic craft paint in orange, red, blue and pink
  • Craft foam (foamie) sheets or felt in green, blue, yellow, black, purple and orange
  • Thick, white craft glue
  • Low-temp glue gun
  • Optional: toothpicks and white paper for labels
  • Tools needed: Scissors; measuring tape; marker; serrated knife; bar of soap or old candle; stiff paintbrush; two large and two regular rubber bands; teaspoon; optional: ¼” hole punch

Caution: Young children should not operate a glue gun or use a serrated knife! 

To make a 3-D Animal Cell Model:

Note: You will want to frequently refer to the labeled photo as you construct your 3-D Animal Cell Model.

Fabulous tutorial to DIY a model of an animal cell. Life saver! CraftsnCoffee.com.

Refer to this photo and the labels as you DIY your cell model.

1. Prep the 10” ball:

  • Wax the knife blade with a bar of soap or an old candle. Cut a small slice from the bottom of the 10” ball so it will stay in place and not roll.
  • Stretch two rubber bands around the 10” ball, dividing it into four equal quarters. Use a measuring tape to check that the four sections are equal. Be sure the cut side is on the bottom.
  • Draw a line along the rubber bands marking one of the quarters. Remove the rubber bands.
  • Cut along the marker lines and cut away the quarter section.

2. Prep the 3” ball:

  • Stretch two rubber bands around the 3” ball, dividing it into four equal quarters. Use a measuring tape to check that the four sections are equal.
  • Draw a line along the rubber bands marking one of the quarters. Remove the rubber bands.
  • Cut along the marker lines and cut away the quarter section.

3. Repeat Step 2 with the 1-½” ball, except that this time, you’ll use the cut-away wedge, and save the rest of the ball for another project.

Detail of a DIY model of an animal cell. CraftsnCoffee.com.

Detail of the nucleus assembly. The 3″ ball fits into the 10″ ball, and the wedge from the 1-1/2″ ball fits into the 3″ ball.

4. In the center of the opening cut into the 10” ball, use the knife and a teaspoon to carve out a hole large enough to hold the 3” ball.

5. Paint the parts of the cell:

  • Cell membrane (outside of 10” ball and a ¼” ring around the inside edge) – orange
  • Cytoplasm (inside of 10” ball) – leave white and do not paint
  • Nucleus (outside of the 3” ball) – red
  • Chromatic (inside of the 3” ball) – pink
  • Nucleolus (quarter wedge of 1-1/2” ball) – blue
  • Let paint dry.

6. Glue the 3” nucleus into the opening carved into the 10” ball.

7. Glue the nucleolus into the center of the nucleus.

Fabulous tutorial to DIY a model of an animal cell. Life saver! CraftsnCoffee.com.

The bright colors help to call out the parts of the cell, but in real life, cells are not this colorful.

8. Cut out the remaining cell parts from different colors of craft foamies or felt:

  • Mitochondria (blue): Two, 2” egg shapes
  • Vacuoles (red): Two, 3/4” ovals
  • Lysosomes (yellow): Four, ½” circles
  • Ribosomes (black): 30, ¼” circles.  (Optional: use a ¼” hole punch to make the circles.)
  • Golgi body (green): One, 12” x ¾” strip. Form the strip into several loops and glue loops together using low-temp glue. Place the looped structure onto the remaining green foamie sheet. Trace the insides of the loops on the foaming. Cut out these pieces and set aside. These will fill in the loops when you assemble the cell.
  • Endoplasmic reticulum (purple): Three, 12” x 1” strips.

9. Assemble the parts of the cell:

  • Mitochondria, Vacuoles, Lysosomes, and Ribosomes: Refer to the photo and glue in place.
  • Golgi body: Glue the looped strip in place first, and then fill in the loops with the coordinating pieces.
  • Endoplasmic Reticulum: Fold the strips to create loops around the nucleus. You might need to cut the longer strips into shorter strips to work the loops all the way around the foam ball.

10. Optional: Label the parts of the cell. Print names of cell parts, cut out, and attach to toothpicks.

Excellent tutorial to make a model of an animal cell. Great for science class! CraftsnCoffee.com.

Kathleen George designed both the 3-D Animal Cell Model and the 3-D Plant Cell Model. Her husband, who has a PhD in neuroscience and is a science professor, wanted to share the models with his students!

Bookmark this one for the Science Fair -- how to DIY a 3-D Plant Cell Model. CraftsnCoffee.com

Are there other Science Fair or school projects we can help with? If you have suggestions, please let me know.

Thank you, and happy crafting.

Sharon

This entry was posted in Craft Tutorial, Kid's Crafts and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

71 Responses to Homework Helper: How to build a 3-D Animal Cell Model

  1. Trish says:

    Hey there! First of all – THANK YOU! My 5th grader just completed this project last night (2 days early, I might add….which is unheard of at this age!) 🙂 Just wanted to give a quick feedback tip: in the shopping list, the foamie paper lists orange, but the vacuoles are supposed to be red (according to the instructions). Not a huge deal at all, my girl is just a stickler for instructions, so I thought I’d bring it to your attention. Thank you again for your dedication to this and so many other projects!

  2. Khalid says:

    Why did you pick cell membrane orange? Lots of my classmates did it blue

  3. Ravleen says:

    I needed this for a science project and this is perfect

  4. anthony says:

    it helped ver =y much for my 7th-grade cells project thanks

  5. Colton says:

    I know this is a weird question but what is the cost average (U.S Dollars)

  6. Makenly Whitaker-Lowrance says:

    Thanks you have just given me a great Idea.

  7. tasza batiste says:

    thank you so much this was so helpful!

  8. Regina says:

    i think this is working out for me and i hope i get an ‘A’ and the best cell

  9. rebekah davidson says:

    hi its me this is cool

  10. maklens leconte says:

    i starting on the project and so far its amazing to the point it looks the sames as the one in the website thx u for your hard work and for the display

  11. Nancy D. says:

    Hi thank you so much so posting this and where did you get the styrofoam balls, thanks again!

  12. Mary Ann Jackson says:

    Did u use hot glue for all the pieces or tackey glue

    • Sharon says:

      The thick, white craft glue (such as Aleene’s Tacky Glue) will work almost every time, but it takes longer to dry. The one exception would be for the cell parts made with the strips of flexible foam sheets, or foamies. For these pieces, I would use the low-temp glue, which will set a lot faster. Do not use a hot-glue gun, which can melt a small portion of the foam. And be sure that the kids do not use a glue gun — ouch! I hope this answers your question. Thanks so much for stopping in.

  13. Thank you! I won an amazing prize from my science fair with this! ❤

  14. Susan Ethridge says:

    Hey, THANK YOU!!!!….So much these two models made my life so much easier. I hope I get an A.

  15. Zaahid says:

    This was really helpful! if not for you, I might have used a hot glue gun and ruined all my work!

  16. Marisol Davis says:

    Instructions state glue… when do we use glue gun and thick white craft glue?

    • Sharon says:

      The thick, white craft glue (such as Aleene’s Tacky Glue) will work almost every time, but it takes longer to dry. The one exception would be for the cell parts made with the strips of flexible foam sheets, or foamies. For these pieces, I would use the low-temp glue, which will set a lot faster. Do not use a hot-glue gun, which can melt a small portion of the foam. And be sure that the kids do not use a glue gun — ouch! I hope this answers your question. Thanks so much for stopping in.

      • Jessenia Rosado says:

        Sharon thank you so much for these steps and procedures and the material we need to the the animal cell project it really helped because I have to give in this project in about 2 weeks and I barely knew what I needed or how to start it
        so these examples reaaaaaaaally helped and I feel way better about doing this but u should put an example on how to do it if it were a cake because I have friends that are doing it as a cake
        but as I was saying thanl u sooooooooooo very much for taking time out of your day to do this it was soooooo help full and the examples came out beautiful
        now I feel comfortable and I believe that I will be able to pass this project with a 100% or even more since my school does above 100’s
        well I gotta go do my other homework but again thank you and I hope to see the example as a cake

      • Sharon says:

        Thank you, and good luck with your assignment! I hope you get an A! (A cake cell model would be yummy!). 🙂 Sharon

  17. Adriana Clarke says:

    Thanks for the project

  18. link says:

    is golgi apparatus same as golgi body

  19. Nyah C says:

    Tysm 😊helped me finish a project in one day before it was due ❣got an A thx to this 😍💫

  20. Ali says:

    Thank you for all of your help and for you taking your time to help all of us

  21. where do I go to watch video of how to make the animal cell?

  22. Jorja says:

    Thx for the help, this helped me so much for my grade 7 assignment, i will recommend this to most of my friends.

  23. good model but i searched for the tutorial on the website that is written i cannot find it can you tell me where can i get this tutorial i want to see it

  24. simran says:

    Very good help for me thank you

  25. Christina magar says:

    Its very helpful.My school is going to have science project. .and I got the idea… thank u..

  26. Angie says:

    Everyone loves combining science and crafts! What is exciting is that either a boy or a girl would enjoy creating one of these models, with Mom or Dad’s help, of course. I like the 3-D effects and the ability to coordinate the colors with each item being labeled. Creating these models makes science come to life for a child. Who knows? This could be the start to a future physician, scientist, biologist, or more. The sky is the limit! Thank you for sharing!

    • Sharon says:

      And thank you! You are so right, you never know when a project will spark a child’s lifelong passion! I always loved the hands-on projects in school, and I bet you did, too. Sharon

  27. LisaM6 says:

    great idea for my daughter. This is saved for her for next year. 🙂

    • Sharon says:

      Great! As you’re a veteran of many Science Fairs and sschool projects, I’m happy to hear that you find this a “keeper”. Any other ides for future school project tutorials? I’d love to know if there are other ideas we should share. Have a good week! Sharon

  28. annehaun says:

    Great project.

    • Sharon says:

      🙂 What science or school projects do you remember from school? I’m always looking for new ideas we can showcase here. Thanks for any suggestions you have. Sharon

      • Victoria says:

        Hey Sharon I think u should do a medival times castle it would be cool because my school goes to a trip to watch the people fighting then we make a castle so it would help a lot l,THX,SHARON

      • Sharon says:

        That sounds like a super-fun field trip! Thank you for the suggestion — check out this post and see if this is what you had in mind: https://craftsncoffee.com/2016/06/07/wrapping-up-the-birthday-bash-and-announcing-the-giveaway-winners/ I’d love to hear other ideas you might have! Thank you! Sharon

      • Victoria says:

        Wow Sharon that castle was very useful thx I just made the castle and I decided to make it a little bigger and add more things in the middle but I have me an image of how it would actually look like thx u helped me so much with the cell and castle definattly will tell friends about this sight thx so much Sharon

      • Sharon says:

        Wow, you work fast! I’m so glad you found us and were able to use our tutorials! Thanks for sharing Crafts ‘n Coffee with your friends, too. Craft on! Sharon

  29. Katiria says:

    Thanks for the instructions Sharon. This looks very neat and professional. It’s definitely a Science Fair 1st place winner.

    • Sharon says:

      🙂 Kathleen George always earns a blue ribbon, imo! Such talent! I know that models made by kids will vary widely, but that’s half the fun! I hope this tutorial gets the creativity flowing, and kids adapt it creatively. Thanks for stopping in. Sharon

  30. My neighbor is a 4/5 grade teacher and I am going to pass this on to her. I think her class would love making these. I am thinking that she can print out the instructions and send them home with the kids to guide them. Thanks for always having fun and inspirational posts!!! Have a wonderful weekend!

    • Sharon says:

      I always appreciate it when you pass along the tutorials to your friends & neighbors, Barb. Thank you! I hope your neighbor finds the tutorials helpful. Here’s to a creative week. Happy Monday! Sharon

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