Ready, steady, SLOW! Have fun learning Snail Facts by Snail Racing! This is a simple animal science family activity that we make time for year after year. If you haven’t tried it yet I’d thoroughly recommend it. It’s great fun whatever your age and a super activity to get kids thinking and learning about these gorgeous slippery slimy garden neighbours.
Snail Racing And Opportunities To Learn Snail Facts
Finding The Perfect Snail For Snail Racing!
We have such fun as a family heading out into the garden to look for our perfect snail and it’s fantastic to see kids learning so many snail facts incidentally as they go on their snail hunt. As children search for their snails they’ll be learning snail facts about their habitats, habits and diet in a hands-on way.
To start with children will notice that there actually aren’t many snails to be found during the day and those they do find are likely to be asleep. They will see for themselves that snails are largely nocturnal.
Children can look for evidence of snails by checking leaves for bite marks. It won’t be long before children are noticing for themselves that snails don’t eat prickly plants and tend to favour those low to the ground. Once they’ve found a snail it’s great to put it on to glass or plastic and look at it from underneath, you can see its little mouth working hard. We can chat to kids or let them research for themselves about snail teeth. Would they think that they had thousands?
As children hunt for snails they may spot slimy snail trails which gives us the perfect opportunity to talk about the snail’s foot and the use of slime to protect and lubricate.
Once the children have found some snails they can make observations about the preferred habitats of snails and may notice that they like to hang out where it’s cool and damp.
Naming Your Racing Snail!
Once you’ve found what you hope will be a winning snail it’s time to give it a name. Maybe it will be Mr Speedy, Zoomy or Whizzer? Will the children want to choose a boy or girl name? Naming the snails is a great way to get talking to kids about snails being hermaphrodites and having both male and female reproductive organs!
If you want to be sure not to muddle your snails you can stick a temporary sticker on their shells.
Setting Up A Snail Racing Course
Setting up a snail racing course is a great way for kids to think about the type of surfaces snails prefer to move on and why. You might want to choose a table top to race them across or maybe draw tracks on the ground with chalk like my son did in the photos. You could even try racing them across different materials or up or down slopes.
My children experimented with water on one lane of their racing track and quickly realised, when the little snail in that lane zoomed ahead, that snails move much more easily across damp surfaces.
You could even craft a little finish line banner like ours. You may be wondering how to encourage your snail to travel in the right direction towards the finish line? Here’s some interesting snail facts to help you. It’s no good calling them because snails don’t have any hearing organs and it’s no good waving at them because they can’t see very well either. We’ve found the best way is to put some tasty treats at the end of the track. Snails have a great sense of smell!
Handling The Racing Snails
Snail racing is a fun way for children to learn snail facts and understand the importance of looking after animals and treating wildlife with the utmost care and respect. We always make sure that we don’t race our snails for long especially if it’s hot and dry and when we’ve finished we offer them a tasty treat of lettuce or cucumber in the shade. Once they’ve had their fill we are careful to return them to where we found them.
There are so many opportunities for kids to learn fun snail facts through snail racing so get hunting in the garden…ready, steady, slow!
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