Animal and Plant Cells

Some examples of living things are:

  • Plants
  • Fungi
  • Bacteria
  • Animals

They are all made up of building blocks known as cells. Most cells are so small that they can only be seen through a microscope. They each have their own components, which each have their own functions within the cell.

Living things are also known as organisms, which animals and plants are examples of. So we can say that organisms are made up of cells.

Animal Cells

Under a microscope, an animal cell will look similar to the diagram below.

Cell membrane

The cell membrane is a thin skin around the cell that holds the cell together and it controls what goes in and out.


The nucleus controls what happens in the cell. It contains DNA, which is the genetic information that cells need to grow and reproduce.


The cytoplasm is a jelly-like substance in which chemical reactions happen.


Mitochondria are tiny structures inside cells where respiration reactions take place. They are often called the powerhouses of the cell because they produce energy that the cell can use to carry out its functions.

Plant Cells

Under a microscope, a plant cell will look similar to the diagram below.


Chloroplasts contain chlorophyll used for photosynthesis.

  • Photosynthesis makes food for the plant.

Not all plant cells have chloroplast, they are only present in the cells where photosynthesis happens, e.g. leaves.

Cellulose Cell Wall

The cell wall is a rigid outer coating made of a material called cellulose. It gives support to the cell.


The vacuole is a large sac filled with cell sap that gives support to the cell. It contains a weak solution of sugar and salts.

Comparing Animal and Plant Cells

Animal cells have four main cell structures:

  • Nucleus
  • Cytoplasm
  • Cell membrane
  • Mitochondria

Plant cells have all four main cell structures of animal cells and three more;

  • Cell wall
  • Chloroplasts
  • Vacuole