Student-built model of mitosis

Mitosis: Student-built model

Students build a model of each stage of mitosis using simple materials. This activity can also modified to build a model of meiosis.

This activity was designed by Jennifer Groeschen for a student who is deafblind.

In this activity, the student receives instruction on mitosis and builds a model of the process. 



  1. Cut textured paper or material into 3 circles of approximately 4″ diameter.  
  2. Prepare all materials


After instruction using a modified text on mitosis, the student will be guided to build a model describing the phases of mitosis.  During instruction on mitosis and the building of this model, please refer to the APH Life Science Tactile graphics for nice graphics of mitosis.

  1. Give student a bag full of the following items – string, beads, textured paper, toothpicks, and popsicle sticks.  
  2. Give student instructions to choose 2 items which are the same but different to represent the DNA.  Guide student to the popsicle sticks and toothpicks if necessary.
  3. Introduce the circle of textured paper or material as the nucleus of the cell.  Remind the student that the DNA is in the nucleus. Review the function of the nucleus as the control center of the cell as it contains the DNA.
  4. The stages of mitosis modeled:  Refer to the picture .As the student is guided through the process of building the model, discuss and review each stage and what occurs during the stages.  Again, use the instructional materials from the lesson and the tactile graphics from the APH Life Science Tactile Graphics Set to instruct and review as the student builds the model.  Allow the student to complete as much of the work as possible on the model herself.
    • The first plate is interphase prior to the beginning of mitosis.  Have the student glue the nucleus to the plate and glue the chromosomes in the nucleus.  During interphase, the DNA would actually be found in the less-coiled form of chromatin but for the sake of simplicity, this student was not given this information but ony instructed to place the DNA in th nucleus.
    • Prophase – 2nd plate: The nucleus begins to disappear and the chromosomes are glued on to the plate directly.
    • Metaphase- 3rd plate:  The chromosomes line up. Glue the chromosomes to the plate in this manner.
    • Anaphase – 4th plate: The chromosomes separate from each other.  See picture
    • Telophase – 5th plate:  The chromosomes move toward opposite sides of the cell.
    • Interphase – 6th plate:  Mitosis is over – The chromosomes are placed in two cells.  Note – Each new cell should only have one popsicle stick and one toothpick rather than the two of each shown in the picture. 
  5. After completing the model, glue the plates in order on the poster board.
  6. Assessment of mitosis could include having the student explain mitosis using the model he/she built. 


This same procedure can be modified to build a model of meiosis including the stages of Meiosis I and Meiosis II.

NGSS Standards:

High School: Inheritance and Variation of Traits

LS1.B: Growth and Development of Organisms
In multicellular organisms individual cells grow and then divide via a process called mitosis, thereby allowing the organism to grow. The organism begins as a single cell (fertilized egg) that divides successively to produce many cells, with each parent cell passing identical genetic material (two variants of each chromosome pair) to both daughter cells. Cellular division and differentiation produce and maintain a complex organism, composed of systems of tissues and organs that work together to meet the needs of the whole organism. (HS-LS1-4)

LS3.A: Inheritance of Traits
Each chromosome consists of a single very long DNA molecule, and each gene on the chromosome is a particular segment of that DNA. The instructions for forming species’ characteristics are carried in DNA. All cells in an organism have the same genetic content, but the genes used (expressed) by the cell may be regulated in different ways. Not all DNA codes for a protein; some segments of DNA are involved in regulatory or structural functions, and some have no as-yet known function. (HS-LS3-1)

LS3.B: Variation of Traits
In sexual reproduction, chromosomes can sometimes swap sections during the process of meiosis (cell division), thereby creating new genetic combinations and thus more genetic variation. Although DNA replication is tightly regulated and remarkably accurate, errors do occur and result in mutations, which are also a source of genetic variation. Environmental factors can also cause mutations in genes, and viable mutations are inherited. (HS-LS3-2)

By Laura Hospitál

Mitosis collage

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