Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Invertebrates vs Vertebrates

Over the past few months DJ and I have worked through the Biological Classifications starting back in October with Living vs Non-living. I remember he struggled with that initially and it took quite a bit of prompting with "does it eat? Does it move? Does it poop?" DJ particularly liked the last question. That was followed by Plants vs Animals which took him a good two months to master. My adult brain was going, "Seriously, you don't know if a tree is a plant or an animal?" But I am constantly humbled as my son's teacher to realize that, no, the whole world is new to him and things I take for granted are challenging to him.

After somewhat struggling through the first two classifications, I was a little uncertain how the third was going to go. Considering that I had to research the difference between Invertebrates vs Vertebrates myself, how was I to expect my 3 year old to grasp it?! Especially when the only distinction is the presence or lack of a backbone, something that can't be seen on the outside?!

So I procrastinated for awhile. I actually even forgot about it for a bit. And then DJ developed an extreme fascination for the TV show Octonauts. (What does that have to do with this topic? Bear with me, there's a connection.). Octonauts is an adorable British cartoon about ocean life. And I love it because it is so real and so detailed and it doesn't assume kids can't understand strange things like anemones or the midnight zone.

DJ's fascination led me to take him to visit our local marine aquarium and it just happened to be Octopus Week!

The aquarium had a Giant Pacific Octopus that was to be released to the wild at the end of the week so they had special events for it all week.

So DJ got up close & personal with a large creature ... that has NO bones. What? You mean it's an Invertebrate? That brought the Invertebrate vs Vertebrate lesson to life in a very real way.

And jellyfish ... also invertebrate.

Sea stars - yep, no backbone.

Anemones, Sea Cucumbers, Hermit Crabs. Check, check, check. This place is an invertebrate lovers paradise. DJ spent well over two hours bent over these touch pools.  He even got a chance to feed some kelp to an anemone.  He was underwhelmed with how slowly the thing ate it's food.  LOL.

So today, I presented the Invertebrate vs Vertebrate cards. I felt ready but was still prepared for some difficulty based on passed experience. Boy was I surprised.

DJ nailed every single one. He kept putting his hand behind his back as if he was feeling for the backbone on each animal. And every time, he answered correctly. I was floored. And when we finished, he said, "Let's do that again!" DJ, my DJ, wanting to repeat a sorting activity? Wow.


  1. Hi Michelle, I love reading your blog. Over the past few months you've inspired me to copy some of your neat activities with my own son who will be three in a few months. I'm wondering where you got your picture sorting cards?
    Thanks for sharing your creative ideas!

    1. Hi Tess! Thanks for visiting. I made all of the classification card sets. I don't share them because I'm using Google Images that are copyrighted. I set up a template in Word that I used for each set and then searched for the images that I wanted. I tried to get all white background images to use less ink when printing and to really highlight the object. Then I print on cardstock, laminate & cut.

  2. Great! I sure appreciate the tips.