Life Cycle - Organisms (1A)
Post Lab 

  • Describing different types of organisms.
  • Comparing invertebrates and vertebrates.
  • backbone
  • invertebrate
  • vertebrate
  • worksheet

Students compare vertebrates with invertebrates.




There is a great diversity of living organisms on this Earth. There are natural groupings of organisms as they live together. Humans however have developed ways to connect similar organisms that do not live near each other. For instance, there are two places where elephants live, India and Africa. They are both considered elephants because they have similar characteristics, but they do not live together.

Humans have constructed a "Tree of Life" to try and develop a pattern of similar characteristics and group them into Kingdoms (very large groups), Phylums (large groups), Families (smaller groups) and then genus and species, which identifies organisms that can reproduce amongst themselves. Presently there are 6 kingdoms. Believe it or not, we do not understand all organisms yet, so even the kingdom level can change. In ancient Greek there was only two Kingdoms, Plant and Animal. Children will learn about the kingdoms in later grades, but the kingdom they are most familiar with is the "Kingdom Animalia."

Introduce the term "animal" as being an organism that grows, has babies, and eats to grow and to nourish the body. Animals can move or remain in one place; they may have a backbone (point to your backbone) or may not have a backbone (i.e., snails, worms). Animals are divided into animals with backbones called vertebrates and animals without backbones called invertebrates.

Animals are divided into two major groups, vertebrates and invertebrates. Children are usually familiar with vertebrates including mammals, fish, birds, reptiles, and amphibians, but sometimes donít realize that insects and snails also belong to the Animalia Kingdom.

  1. Ask students to divide the animals that they are familiar with. Ask them to think about dividing them into animals with backbones and those without backbones. You may have to emphasize that just having a skeleton is not enough to have a backbone. If you have a backbone from a recent chicken dinner, bring it so they can see what backbones consist of. You also may want everyone to touch their own backbone. The reason for a backbone is to help large animals to move.
  2. Develop the following type of diagram on the board to illustrate the difference. Have students give examples. You may have to help them with the first few examples.

with backbones

without backbones





  1. Go over the sheets with the students. They may color the word for each group. One of the sheets lists the groups of vertebrates, which actually refer to the correct phylum names. The other sheets list common types of invertebrates into its common name, each one representing a larger group. Since these names are not common we have used an example of each phylum instead of the phylum name. Sponges represent the phylum Porifera; jellyfish represent Cnidaria: worms represent Annelida; insect represents Arthropoda; clams represent Mollusca; and seastars represents Echinoderms. If you have examples of these animals show them to your students.
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