Beacon Lesson Plan Library

Invertebrates, No Backbone, No Problem

Cheryl Darbyshire
Lee County School District


Students study characteristics of invertebrates, observe a micro-habitat for two weeks, research an invertebrate, create a profile poster, and present a report.


The student locates, organizes, and interprets written information for a variety of purposes, including classroom research, collaborative decision making, and performing a school or real-world task.

The student understands that the classification of living things is based on a given set of criteria and is a tool for understanding biodiversity and interrelationships.


-Reference Books about Invertebrates (enough for class to share)
-Field Guide of Invertebrates (3 or 4 for class to share)
-Poster Boards ( one for each student)
-Colored Pencils (one set per group of 4 students)
-Audubon Adventures Invertebrate Newspapers (optional)
(If you decide to use the Audubon Newspapers you can order them from the Audubon Society and have groups of 4 students share one newspaper.) See listed Website for ordering.


1. Students build microhabitats and observe and record data for two weeks. You decide whether you want them to be set up at school or in their back yards. If at school, you will need to provide students with the materials for building the habitats, like wood blocks to be dampened or old sections of trees to place where students can make their observations.
2. Have students make observation logs or make observation sheets on the computer and make copies. You can put dates and days of the week so students can record their observations.
3. Have a class discussions on their findings and make generalizations about the characteristics of the animals or organisms that inhabited their microhabitats.
4. After the two week study of microhabitats: Prepare pictures or have slides or internet pictures of different invertebates and have a class discussion on invertebrates-characteristics and classification. Try to gather pictures of the different species such as insects, marine invertebrates, and some unusual invertebrates not found in your local environment. This will get some of the students really excited about researching an animal they know nothing about.
5. Make sure that you have reference books for the students to use in your room or an available computer or computers with Internet access. Set up time for the students to visit the school library if it is accessible.
6. Allow class time to help students with finding research and the actual writing of the report.
7. Have extra poster boards avaliable for those who can not get one or for someone who makes a mistake that can't be fixed.
8. Allow extra time for the presentations for the students who will finish after the due date.


Two Weeks Before Lesson:

Week 1:
1. Prior to this study I have the students build a micro-habitat for ground dwelling invertebrates.

2. They then explore the roles of these invertebrates as decomposers and fertilizers.

3. Example: Students wet one side of a piece of wood and place wet side down in various locations.

4. The students record the date and description of the habitat.

5. Students observe what animals come to their habitats at least every other day.

6. They keep logs of observations about what types of animals come, their size, and how many.

Week 2:
1. Students continue to observe and make observations in their logs.

2. Before we start our study of invertebrates, we discuss their findings about the organisms they have been observing for the past two weeks, what might be their place in the food chain, what is its function in the ecosystem, which are decomposers and which are fertilizers.

Performance Task:

Day 1:

1. Direct a class discussion about the characteristics of invertebrates and how they are classified. A K-W-L- Chart or Venn Diagram works great for developing a list of characteristics.

2. Display pictures of common invertebrate in your local habitats. Discuss these animals and their behaviors.

3. Allow students time for research on Internet and reference books. Students research adaptations, physical abilities, behaviors, and lifestyles of invertebrate (May also be a homework assignment.)

4. If some students need help finding information, pair them with another student or assist them.

Day 2:

1. Tell students about their assignment which will be a performance task graded by the attached rubric.
As a Fish and Game Wildlife Ranger, you have been assigned to create a poster of an invertebrate profile to be put on display at the local National Wildlife Refuge for the Earth Day Celebration. Your poster must include the following information: The invertebrate's order, species name, a hand drawn picture, average height, length, weight, other distinguishing physical features such as color, etc., habitat requirements, range of where it lives, what it eats, and at least two remarkable abilities of the organism that you research. You will be asked to present a research report for this invertebrate, plus a bibliography with three resources; a reference book, an Internet site, and an encyclopedia.

2. Students continue research and writing facts about the invertebrate of their choice. (Use copy of directions for the profile of the poster so they find the specific information they will need.) See directions above.

3. Class time for research or assign some for homework.

4. Review skills on how to collect information for a bibliography and how to take notes when researching. (See Websites listed for students to use to review these skills.)

Day 3:

1. Students organize research materials and begin writing rough draft of report and bibliography.

2. If you have computers in the room or a lab, you can allow students time for typing reports. If not, this can be assigned to be done at home.

Day 4:

1. Students begin working on their hand drawn picture for the poster of the invertebrate they are researching.

2. Students may get assistance in art class if available at your school.

3. Students begin to add the information to the poster and then label and color it with colored pencils. This activity might take 2 class periods depending on your class time. (This could also be assigned as homework.)

You can either give the students a due date for their projects and assign some of the work for homework, or have everything done in the classroom. When the majority of students have completed the performance task, I have them start presenting to the class. They first share the information on the poster and then read the report.


Use the Rubric in Word Document to assess the following pieces of student work: Interpret information, Organization of Information, Classification of Invertebrates, Bibliography. (See associated file)


1. Basic vocabulary and questions. If you use research reading like the Audubon Adventures Newspaper about Invertebrates-you can give the students vocabulary words and comprehension questions.
2. Students can create creatures that have the characteristic of invertebrates.
3. Students research adaptations, physical abilities, behaviors, and lifestyles of invertebrate and then use this factual information to create a superhero comic or story.
1. Peer project
2. Pictures from computer or cut from magazines for poster.
3. Let a friend share your report in front of the class.
4. Give students printed research materials from magazines, books or Internet.

Web Links

Web supplement for Invertebrates, No Backbone, No Problem

Web supplement for Invertebrates, No Backbone, No Problem

Web supplement for Invertebrates, No Backbone, No Problem

Web supplement for Invertebrates, No Backbone, No Problem

Web supplement for Invertebrates, No Backbone, No Problem

Web supplement for Invertebrates, No Backbone, No Problem
Invertebrates and Vertebrates

Web supplement for Invertebrates, No Backbone, No Problem
Invertebrates Homepage

Web supplement for Invertebrates, No Backbone, No Problem

Web supplement for Invertebrates, No Backbone, No Problem
Research Notes

Ask Jeeves at
How to Write a Bibliography

Attached Files

Rubric for the lesson plan     File Extension: pdf

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