Learn how to make an edible cell model, using cake and candies, that looks as incredible as it tastes.
Making a cell model of some sort seems to be a universal rite of passage for middle and/or high school students. It seems the assignment is a requirement for biology textbooks.
Even if your science curriculum doesn’t assign a cell model creation for your students, you should do one anyway! My kids always seem to retain information better when they complete hands-on projects and activities – even if it’s something as simple as a coloring page. (Yes, older students still like to color even if they won’t admit it.)
And, too many kids think science is boring. Boring? Science? I’m a firm believer that if your kids think science (or history) is boring, you might want to look at how you’re presenting it. Sure, some kids are a hard sell and are going to complain that anything school-related is boring, but science is one of the most hands-on, interactive, fun subjects there is.
And, if you’re a homeschooling parent who hates science…well, we might just have to work on showing you how to enjoy it, too.
Why Make an Edible Cell Model Out of Cake and Candy
Now, there are plenty of awesome ways to make a cell model. Our particular science book included instructions for a Plaster of Paris model and I’d done a Styrofoam one years earlier with my oldest. But, I’ll let you in on a little secret – I’m somewhat opposed to projects I have to store and very much in favor of those we can eat!
Soooo…we opted for making our model out of cake instead! The project was so much fun! It looked amazing and it tasted delicious. Much better than the Plaster of Paris cell would have tasted. And, no storage required! (Unless you count the part that I stored on my hips, but that’s just rude.)
Plus, after taking lots of photos, we took our cake to an extended family dinner. The kids got a great review of the parts of a cell when the relatives asked about the cake, and I provided dessert without any extra work. Seriously, I can’t over-sell this project!
How to Make an Edible Cell Model Cake
How to Make an Edible Cell Model
- Round cake pans like these
- Silicon cup cake molds. I used these.
- Round Toothpicks. Any will do, we used these.
- Labels for labeling the organelles. We used these.
Ingredients for an Edible Cell Model
- Cake mix (and the ingredients to make it.)
- Vanilla icing
- Food coloring
- Various candies to represent organelles
- Bake the cake mix according to package directions. We used round cake pans since we were doing an animal cell model. We also used a little of the batter to make one cupcake to represent the nucleus. Allow the cakes to cool completely, then, assemble as normal with some of the icing between the two layers.
- Use food coloring to tint the icing so that you have one color to represent the cytoplasm, a second to represent the cell membrane, and a third to represent the nucleus.
- Pro Tip: Start with white frosting and use colors that mix easily to form new colors. That way, you don't have to divide icing and guesstimate how much you'll need for each cell part.
- Add a few drops of food coloring to the vanilla frosting and mix well to create the cytoplasm. Frost only the top of the cake.
- Next, add a few drops of food coloring (using a different color) to tint the icing a different shade (green pictured). Frost only the sides of the cake with the second color. This color represents the cell membrane.
- Finally, add a few more drops of food coloring to the remaining icing to create a third color to represent the nucleus. We chose to add red, which created a rather unappetizing color. Just something to think about.
- Cut the top off the cupcake. Place it on the top of the cake to represent the nucleus and frost it with the third color.
- You can discard the bottom of the cupcake if you choose. However, I recommend that you put a little leftover icing on it and eat it while your kids aren’t looking!
- Place the candies on the cake to represent the cell’s organelles. As we placed each candy on the cake, we reviewed the job of the organelles.(See the quick reference sheet below.)
- Use the toothpicks and labels to make flags. Write the name of each organelle on individual labels. Either fold the labels over around a toothpick so that the front sticks to the back or use a second label, placing it back to back with the first.
- As your kids add the labels to correctly identify each of the organelle, review the organelle and its job again.
- Take lots of pictures…then, eat your yummy cell cake!
Other Great Ways to Learn About Cells
Understanding cells and how they function is one of the basic building blocks of biology, but some of the terminology can be confusing or hard to remember for your students. That’s why I love this animal cell printable pack and this plant cell printable pack. I’d also suggest checking out this animal cell interactive notebook for students in grade 4-7.
Also, check your local library or Amazon for books about cells, such as Looking Inside Cells. Don’t discount simple books that may be below your student’s grade level. Non-fiction books geared toward young children can be a fantastic resource of information that has been stripped to the basics making it easy to understand and remember.
Have fun learning together!
Did you enjoy making this edible cell model? Please pin, tweet, or share on Facebook! Be sure to tag us so we can see your creation!
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Kris Bales is a newly-retired homeschool mom and the quirky, Christ-following, painfully honest founder (and former owner) of Weird, Unsocialized Homeschoolers. She has a pretty serious addiction to sweet tea and Words with Friends. Kris and her husband of over 30 years are parents to three amazing homeschool grads. They share their home with three dogs, two cats, a ball python, a bearded dragon, and seven birds.