A basic children's biology lesson involves teaching the differences between invertebrates, or animals without backbones, and vertebrates, or animals with backbones. Make your science lesson fun by including activities for children to do that will reinforce this basic principle about the animal kingdom. Select one or two different kinds of activities to round out your lesson plan. Allowing children time to get engaged and use different thinking skills to understand vertebrates and invertebrates can also help them with sorting and other classification skills.
There are several ways kids can practice sorting out invertebrates from vertebrates. Distribute flash cards with pictures of animals to small groups of children and have each team race to sort out the invertebrates from the vertebrates. Take children on a field trip to an aquarium or a zoo and have them classify each animal they see as a vertebrate or an invertebrate for a real-life example. Or simply give each child an animal picture and have her place it on a bulletin board with other vertebrates or invertebrates.
Combine science and art through simple art projects related to vertebrates and invertebrates. Have each child cut out pictures from science and nature magazines to make his own vertebrate and invertebrate collages. Give children pieces of Styrofoam, paint, pipe cleaners and other art supplies to create either models of real-life animals or their own invented animals, and have them explain whether their animal is vertebrate or invertebrate. Even very small children can use crayons to color basic pictures of invertebrate and vertebrate animals.
The whole class can get engaged in simple animal guessing games. Play a version of 20 questions with only animals. Once the animal is guessed, have the child classify the animal as either a vertebrate or invertebrate for bonus points. Play animal charades with each child taking turns acting out either a vertebrate or invertebrate, or just hold up pictures of animals and give teams points for guessing whether the animal is a vertebrate or invertebrate. For a review, use characteristics of vertebrates and invertebrates to create a trivia game.
Use toothpicks, candies, gummy worms and marshmallows to help kids create their own edible vertebrates and invertebrates. Have children create their own caterpillars, dogs, fish, birds or other favorite animal from candy and toothpicks and then discuss the characteristics the candy animal has in common with the real animal. For a classroom treat, bring in cupcakes decorated like invertebrates and vertebrates or cookies cut into animal shapes. Have each child classify the cupcake or cookie animal as vertebrate or invertebrate before eating.