Cell Theory


Key Concepts:

  • Cells are the basic building blocks of all life forms.
  • All plants and animals are made up of cells.
  • The Cell Theory states that all organisms are composed of cells and that all cells come from other living cells.
  • Unicellular organisms are life forms that are made up of just one cell.
  • Multi-cellular organisms are made up of many cells working together
  • The shape of a cell is determined by the function of the cell (what it does).
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The cell is the smallest unit of a living thing. Some organisms are made of a single cell. These organisms are unicellular and are usually too small for you to see directly. Pond water is full of tiny unicellular organisms. However, most of the organisms you can see in a pond, such as a frog or a water lily, are made up of many cells. Organisms made up of many cells are called multicellular organisms.

The needs and characteristics of a single cell in a unicellular organism are the same as those for any organism. Each of the tiny single-celled organisms found in a drop of pond water performs all the activities that characterize life. Multicellular organisms, like a frog or a water lily, have bodies that are more complex. Different parts of the body of a multicellular organism perform different functions. A water lily’s roots hold it in the soil and its leaves capture energy from the Sun. A frog moves with its arms and legs and eats with its mouth.

Multicellular organisms have different types of cells that make up their body parts and help the organisms meet their needs. Roots are made of root cells, which are different from leaf cells. Muscle cells have special parts that allow them to move. In a multicellular organism, many cells work together to carry out the basic activities of life.

The wacky history of cell theory - Lauren Royal-Woods
Brainpop Video on Cells

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Guiding Questions

  • What is the basic unit of life?
  • What types of organisms are made up of cells?
  • What is a unicellular organism?
  • What is the cell theory?
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Prokaryotic and Eukaryotic Cells-- 6.12B

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Prokaryotes and Eukaryotes
Cell size shape and form