Introduce Invertebrates and Vertebrates to Kids


My Zoology Montessori instructor explained that when introducing Vertebrates and Invertebrates to preschoolers that using simple descriptive words and phrases (along with “real” objects like Safari Toobs) to concretely connect the child with organisms is the best approach. We have to be careful not to generalize. For example, not all birds fly.

The Montessori Life Science Sequence

Within the Life Science Lesson Sequence, the Vertebrates/Invertebrates lesson comes after Living/Non-Living and Plant/Animal (within Plant/Animal you also have “Parts of a Plant” and “Isolated Plant Part”). You want to introduce to the group with objects, then individual lesson with objects and then cards. Typically there will be room on the shelf for each of these areas for the children.


Descriptive Phrases and Words for your Preschoolers:


  • Amphibians – lay eggs in water, having blood moving through their bodies, cannot regulate body temperature (cold blooded0, wet skin, spend part of their life in the water
  • Reptiles – dry, scaly skin, cannot regulate body temperature, lay eggs
  • Birds – have feathers, give birth to babies from eggs, most birds migrate
  • Fish – scaly, slimy, lay eggs, live in the water
  • Mammals – have hair, have mother’s milk, give birth to live young, warm blooded



  • Arthropoda - have jointed limbs and include insects with 3 body parts and six legs, arachnids with 2 body parts and 8 legs, crustaceans with an exo-skeletan
  • Porifera – no definite symmetry, no organs, live in water mostly, include sponges
  • Cnidaria – have radial symmetry and include jellyfishes, corals, sea anemones, hydras
  • Annelida – segmented worms and include earthworms and leeches
  • Mollusca – include octopus, squid and snails (it is actually very difficult to describe Mollusca because they vary so much)
  • Echinodermata – have radial symmetry, have several arms coming from the center, body is in 5 segments, no heart, no brain, no eyes, have tube feet with suction pads and include sea stars, sea urchins, sea cucumbers


I hope you find this post helpful with your exploration of Invertebrates and Vertebrates!

Thanks for visiting! Will you leave a comment with your Zoology ideas?


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Founder, Publisher, Writer & Editor at Carrots Are Orange, Inc.
Marnie began Carrots Are Orange in 2010 after the birth of her first son. Carrots Are Orange is a Montessori inspired learning and living blog for parents and educators. She hails from Maine, a wonderfully down to earth place to grow up. Marnie moved to the west coast in 1999, currently living east of Seattle with her husband and three young boys. She is pursuing Montessori certification. Her work has been featured on Apartment Therapy, PBS Kids, BabyCenter, the Melissa & Doug blog, and


  1. Aubrey says

    Very clear explanation of the Montessori approach to Zoology and you make the scientific names easy to categorize. Thanks for this resource!

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