Teaching sequence

Lesson objective

In this lesson students understand the differences between vertebrates and invertebrates, identify the major classes in the phylum Chordata and classify an organism in its natural environment.


Brainstorm different organisms that would belong in the kingdom Animalia. Complete the worksheet Animal alphabet (Word, 392 KB).


  1. Ask how animals can be separated into two or more big groups. Define the terms ‘exoskeleton’ and ‘endoskeleton’.
  2. Watch the video and then make an Origami crab and place cotton wool inside to represent the soft parts of the organism inside the exoskeleton. Use a pipe-cleaner to make an endoskeleton of a human or dog. Wrap cotton wool around the shape to represent the soft parts. Use masking tape as skin that holds in the soft cotton wool ‘muscles’.
  3. Ask students to research the characteristics of different vertebrates to complete the worksheet A better class of animal (Word, 399 KB).
  4. Use the learning object Fish out of water to research the gas exchange of different animal classes.
  5. Use the information gathered from the previous worksheet to make a key for the worksheet A classy key (Word, 382 KB). 
  6. Discuss with students how scientists might safely and ethically obtain organisms for classifying and how the impact on the animals might be minimised.
  7. Ask the students (in groups) to safely collect an invertebrate from the local environment and to classify it using the activity Key to the invertebrates  to assist them. Return the organisms to their original environment.


Play animal celebrity heads (as in lesson 1) and suggest that students use what they have learnt in the previous lessons on classification.

Lesson Resources


Student activities

Digital resources

Origami crab, YouTube (4:07 mins). Video

L23 Fish out of water, NDLRN. Learning object 

Key to the invertebrates, CSIRO. Classification activity 


Animal alphabet (Word, 392 KB) 

A better class of animal (Word, 399 KB) 

A classy key (Word, 382 KB)

Extension activities

Changing classification systems (Word, 612 KB)

Useful links

Teaching resources for 7–11 year olds. Species discovery, ARKive. Unit of work