Create a Snail Farm

A land snails from family Enidae. It could be ...
This leaf was clearly eaten by snails (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

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.

photo used with permission from Microsoft

Possible extensions:

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:

Snail

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.

Sammy Snail
(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!

Advertisements

9 Comments Add yours

  1. solarbeez says:

    I’d love to donate some of my slugs to your collection…but being ‘shell-less’ they don’t fit the profile. Still, it prompted me to take some photos. See http://solarbeez.com/2012/07/11/slug-rehab/

    Like

    1. holy cow, you’ve got a lot of slugs! you are truly the master at catching them 🙂 I’m sure kids would be just as fascinated to see your slugs as much as snails

      Like

      1. solarbeez says:

        The funny thing about this is that while I was waiting for the slugs to get active, as they started moving ever so slowly, I could hear the movement…like the ooze was making noise.

        Like

      2. ooo, what a great image–kinda creepy!

        Like

      3. Anonymous says:

        Actually, I’d like to know more about slugs. What role do they play? When I collect them at night I can’t help but think they are just trying to survive like the rest of us. How would we like to have some big giant stabbing us with a knife as we go to work? Sometimes I’ll pick up a “family”…”Mom, Dad, and the kids” out for a picnic. How can you bring yourself to “off” them?

        Like

  2. My Homepage says:

    Very interesting subject , regards for putting up. 196950

    Like

  3. solarbeez says:

    I don’t know why Word Press declared this as “Anonymous”, because it’s mine and I’m owning up to it… 🙂
    Actually, I’d like to know more about slugs. What role do they play? When I collect them at night I can’t help but think they are just trying to survive like the rest of us. How would we like to have some big giant stabbing us with a knife as we go to work? Sometimes I’ll pick up a “family”…”Mom, Dad, and the kids” out for a picnic. How can you bring yourself to “off” them?

    Like

    1. Ha, thanks for owning up :). I have the same issues w ‘offing’ slugs, somehow they seem friendlier and more personable than other garden pests (like aphids, which I was no issue squishing), even though they can do just as much real damage to the garden. For this very reason I usually end up picking them off and throwing them towards the woods at the edge of my property… Even though they’ll no doubt soon return! Guess I have a soft spot for the slimy buggers!

      Like

  4. I like this blog so much, saved to my bookmarks . 794133

    Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s