Snails may be pests in the garden, but they are quite fascinating creatures. Create a little home for some snails in your classroom, allowing your students to watch and observe the snails in action for a couple days.
Start off with a water or soda bottle. Rinse and dry it out and then put the cap back on the bottle. Carefully cut a hole into the side of the bottle, about 1/2 an inch wide and 2 inches long. Place the bottle on its side, with the opening on the top. Place some damp soil and some leaves from the garden into the bottle for the snails to munch on. Go on a snail hunt in the garden (careful! snail shells are fragile!). Snails are nocturnal and like dark and damp areas, such as under a rock, or under the large leaves of a hosta. You could also try putting a large clay flower pot upside down in the garden, with one side propped up a little. Check the pot the next day to see if you caught any snails. Place a couple snails into the bottle. Use packing tape to cover the hole in the bottle, and then poke holes into the tape, so air can get into the bottle. Keep the snail farm in the classroom for a couple days, so that students can observe snails eating the leaves and leaving slime trails.
Make drawings of the snails, labeling anatomy. Learn that snails have no bones and only one foot. Observe how an animal can move with only one foot by placing snails on a piece of clear glass or plastic and observing from below. Students will see the rippling muscles of the foot moving it forward. D iscuss how the slime lubricates it’s path so it doesn’t get hurt.
Give snails several different types of leaves with different textures and examine leaves after a couple days to determine food preferences.
Place a snail in a simple T-shaped maze and see if the snail can find its way to some leaves at the end. You could also use this activity to find out the speed that the snail travels.
Place some snails on black construction paper. Also time for them to crawl around and leave a pattern of slime across the paper. Take snails off of the construction paper and sprinkle with talcum powder to create snail art. You can also analyze the snail tracks for any patterns in how the snails move around.
Snail poems and songs:
He cannot fly.
He cannot hop.
He cannot run at all.
But you should see
The way he goes
Slowly up the wall.
He cannot skip
Or race about.
He has one way to go;
And as I watched him
I must say
He’s good at going slow.
(poem with movement activity)
Sammy snail is slowly moving
See him slide across the grass (put hands together and make them “slide” through the air)
He leaves a silver path behind him (point behind)
We all know when he has passed.
Sammy snail is never worried (shake head)
Though he wanders far and wide (put hands wide apart)
For on his back his house he carries (pretend to carry something heavy on your back)
And when he’s tired he pops inside. (hide face behind hands
I’m a little snail
(sung to the tune of Sing a Song of Sixpence)
I’m a little snail, I’m crawling on the ground.
I’ve got only one foot, so I can’t walk around.
And when I’m in a hurry, there’s someplace I must go,
I’ll get there when I get there, even though I’m slow!