Vertebrates lesson 3: Reptiles part I 

Today I am going to write about our reptiles lesson in our Montessori classroom.

We start our lessons with reptile after a short recap of five classes of vertebrates names and the ones that we have learnt so far.

Turtles, lizards, snakes and crocodilians are all reptiles. What are the general characteristics of these reptiles?

  • Some reptiles are nocturnal (night animals) and some are diurnal (active during day)
  • Reptiles are cold blooded like our fish and frogs. They need to bask in the sun to become active.
  • All reptiles have lungs and breathe air like us.
  • Their skin is covered with dry scales. The scaly skin keeps them from drying out and protects them from contact with the ground. A reptile shed its skin as it grows. ( we can show the shed skin of snake) . A turtle has a hard shell instead of scales for protection.
  • They lay leathery eggs on land and the baby reptiles take care of themselves, as soon as they hatch from the egg. The reptile babies are not like us, we need parents to take care of us till we get older enough.

Then we tell the children about each reptile a day….  We use the pictures that I have prepared from google images for our reptile folder for the discussions.

Our reptiles folder and the picture cards for the lessons

We first talk about the …..


  1. Turtles can live on land and water. A land turtle is called tortoise.
  2. Parts of the turtles
  • Head: The head of the reptiles are attached to their body by a neck, allowing them to move their heads, independently of the body. This allows the turtle to extend its head from the shell. The have two eyes with eyelids to see colours and to detect distance. Turtles are active during the day. They have two nostrils to breathe. They have membrane covered opening called tympanum for sensing vibrations.
  • Mouth: Turtles don’t have teeth but a bony jaw. They can only tear down the food or eat it whole and their tongue helps them to swallow the food.
  • Shell: Turtles have protective shell instead of scales. The shell is made up of protective plates called scutes. The upper part of the shell is called carapace and it’s dome shaped. The back bone of the turtle is attached to the carapace and it can not move out of the shell. The bottom part of the shell is called plastron which is attached to the carapace with openings for the neck, legs and tail. The turtle can retract all its parts into the shell when it encounters any danger.
  • Legs:  The turtles have four legs, two legs in front called forelegs and two at the back called hind legs. The legs of the turtle are covered with dry scales. The hind legs of the turtle are stronger than the forelegs. They have short stride because of their shell and move slowly on land. Some sea turtles have flippers for swimming instead of legs. Turtles can swim or walk along the bottom of the lake but they breathe with their lungs, hence they need to come to the surface to take deep breath.
  • Feet: Turtles have five toes with sharp claws used for digging the ground for hibernation in winter, also for laying eggs. Many turtles have webbed feet for swimming.

And few points on sea turtles…

  • Sea turtles spend most of their lives in the seas and they have flippers instead of legs to swim.
  • Sea turtle can not pull its legs and head into the shell like other turtles.
  • They breathe air, hence have to come out of the water to breathe.
  • The mother turtle comes out of the water to lay eggs in the sand. When the baby turtles hatch from the eggs, they immediately go to the water to begin their life as a sea turtle.

We use the turtle puzzle and the nomenclature cards from wasecabiomes for the discussion of parts of the turtle.

Turtles picture cards from the reptiles folder

I will continue with the lessons on reptiles in the second part of reptiles lessons. ( my next post)


One comment

  1. Very clear introduction to the reptiles. I like the idea to classify turtles and tortoises too. Thanks for sharing your knowledge!


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