Main Characteristics of Vertebrates, Montessori RD

Biology, Zoology 6-9

Zoology is “part” of the Cosmic Education that aims to bring back together, all fields of science, as they truly are one unit of study. As children progress through multiple “subject areas,” they come to realize that all the knowledge accumulated makes one. One can not fully grasp zoology without botanical, geological, atmospheric, chemical, physical science, historical, and astronomical knowledge.

Montessori Research and Development – Internal Parts of Vertebrates

How do you ensure the child is exposed to such rich content? Certainly by making hands-on materials available that are designed to classify knowledge.

The set I am showing you today is the second set we own on the topic. Our first set was made of real picture, with highlights. The children never wanted to work with it willingly. Therefore, I tried Montessori Research and Development materials on Main Characteristics of Vertebrates as the materials seem very clear. Parts of animals are distinctively highlighted using red. The pictures are not distracting as with real pictures that sometimes contain too many details. A simple realistic picture allows for the primary knowledge to visually emerge out of the picture. The set is aesthetic, durable, and lexically sophisticated.

Material content

The set Main Characteristics of the Vertebrates from Montessori Research and Development consists of:

  • 31 sets of picture/label/description on movement/skin/circulation/skeleton/respiration/reproduction for all 5 groups of vertebrates
  • 5 booklets one for each group
  • 5 corresponding wall charts
Whole Set as received
This is how I compact-store the material that won’t be on the tray


Prior to using the Main Characteristics, Internal Parts of Vertebrates, we studied following in Zoology:

  • Living vs. Nonliving review
  • Review of the 3 domains
  • Exploration of the 6 Kingdoms of living organisms
  • Exploration of similarities and differences between living organisms: Plant vs. Animal
  • Exploration of the Animal Kindgom and their external parts and functions
  • Independent study on animals and questionnaire on how animals satisfy their needs.
  • Review on Eukaryotic vs. Prokaryotic cells

The list above seems long, but remember, children are only doing expository and self-discovery learning. They go through the materials happily when it is appealing to them. That, is key to me. All the information above can be found in the manuals Zoology elementary I vol. 1. The presentations are well-detailed and scripted. This allows the presenter to be specific with the learning, and consistent with the method.

Manual Zoology Vol. 2, Elementary level I, p. 182

How it works

Montessori Research and Development materials are straightforward. They apply the traditional Montessori method of three part cards to introduce this knowledge. The three part cards system offers a work with repetition and classification, which is essential for children to create “mind maps” in their minds. (system used to visualize organized information). Everytime my children understand a concept, they literally jump to the ceiling with great enthusiasm. I am thinking they just connected some dots.

For this presentation, I included small objects as a bridge between the child and the learning. Elementary children still enjoy manipulatives. Since we are currently living in the woods, on a lake, we have first-hand experience with all 5 groups: fish, amphibians, reptiles, birds, and mammals. The children chose to learn about the characteristics of a bird. We went through the 3 part cards, which I read from the booklet, while a child would lay the cards. We learned an amazing amount of new knowledge, and terms. We had no idea birds had a “four-chambered” heart like humans, as opposed to reptiles. We learned that claws are named “talons.” We learned about the way oxygenated blood and deoxygenated blood circulate through the chambers, which had us pull out our human heart model. We learned that instead of saying “using,” we could say “by means of.” The material was very well written. I could feel that the repetition of terms was having an impact on retention. Many body parts were mentioned using proper anatomy terms.

Finally, the children understood that all vertebrate animals had vital characteristics in common related to: skin, respiration, skeleton, circulation, movement, and reproduction. They also grasped that animals may have “common” characteristics that vary. For example, lungs vs. gills, feathers vs. scales.

Skeleton Comparison

The following days, we studied one group per day. On the last day, we compared all skins, all skeletons, all respiratory systems, etc… It was a fabulous experience.

Respiratory System Comparison

If you haven’t visited Montessori Research and Development, I highly recommend you visit their Website. They offer samples of presentations and the table of contents for all their manuals. The manuals contain the philosophy of the Montessori method, child development components, prerequisites, materials, follow-up activities, and colorful illustrations. All the manuals are packed with all the knowledge a prepared adult needs. You will find consistency throughout their materials and manuals.

Skin Comparison

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