Delicious Classification: Vertebrates and Invertebrates

What You Need:

  • An assortment of candies and snacks: Junior Mints, gummy Lifesavers, Twizzlers, large marshmallows, frosting, shredded coconut, pretzel sticks, etc.
  • Toothpicks
  • Index cards, each labeled with one of the following words: vertebrates, invertebrates, worms, insects, spiders, mammals, birds, fish, reptiles, amphibians

What You Do:

  1. Begin by showing your child all the cards, and asking her which two cards she believes represent the categories (vertebrates and invertebrates). Ask her to explain to you what these two different words mean.
  2. Ask her to sort the remaining index cards as either vertebrates or invertebrates. As she sorts, ask her to explain why she placed each card in a particular category. (Vertebrates: mammals, fish, birds, reptiles, amphibians; Invertebrates: worms, spider, insects)
  3. Now the fun begins! Once she has correctly divided the cards into the two categories, have her pick just one card from the set of labeled cards. Ask her to consider the characteristics of that animal, and use any combination of the sweet ingredients to create a candy model of that animal with similar characteristics. Have her explain her creations aloud as she makes them. For example, a Junior Mint is like an insect, because it is hard on the outside (like an exoskeleton) and soft on the inside. A Twizzler is like a worm because it is bendable, with no bones or hard parts. A set of Lifesavers threaded on a Twizzler is like the backbone of a bird. A marshmallow on a toothpick, covered in frosting and rolled in coconut is like a mammal because it has bones on the inside, surrounded by flesh, and covered in fur.
  4. Continue in this manner for all of the index cards. Then let your child enjoy the fruits of her labor! The possibilities of this activity are endless!

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