This is a unit that investigates things with shells. The students take an in-depth look at animals with shells and the different types of shells.
- Research snails with a walk-around-the-room activity
- Experiment and research how the snail moves and how fast it travels
- Live snails, two per small group of students
- Brightly-colored paper, one per snail
- Snail Research Information for Posters printable
- Large sheets of cardstock or chart paper
- Snail Research Fill-in-the-Blank Worksheet printable
- Snail Observation Worksheet printable
- The Biggest House in the World by Leo Lionni
- Rulers or tape measures, one per pair of students
- Plastic cups, one per student
- Magnifying glasses, one per student
- Small, rectangular piece of cardboard, one per student
- Optional: Scissors
- You will need a collection of live snails for this lesson. You can collect them yourself or send a letter home several days before requesting students bring in snails. Here are some tips for gathering your specimens.
- Before class, place the snails around the room on bright colored paper.
- Use the Snail Research Information for Posters printable to create large posters about snails. Copy the information from the printable onto sheets of cardstock or chart paper. I recommend cutting the paper into snail shapes to create a themed display. Students will use these posters to complete their Snail Research Fill-in-the-Blank Worksheets, so make sure your handwriting is legible. Hang the posters around the classroom.
- Make class sets of the Snail Research Fill-in-the-Blank Worksheet printable and the Snail Observation Worksheet printable.
Step 1: Begin by asking students, "Who has ever seen a snail? Where did you see it? What do they look like? What is on their backs?"
Step 2: Read The Biggest House in the World by Leo Lionni. Stop on the second page and ask students, "How many of you have wanted something more than what you have? We all have." Continue reading, but keep stopping along the way and asking students to make predictions as to what will happen as the shell keeps getting bigger. When the snail adds the designs, stop and ask "How is this like the book A House for Hermit Crab?"
Step 3: At the end of the story ask, "Did the snail make a good choice? What would you have done if you were the snail? Why was it important for the snail to have a little house?"
Step 4: Give each student a copy of the Snail Research Fill-in-the-Blank Worksheet printable. Explain that students must walk around the room and read the snail posters in order to find the information needed to complete the worksheet. I let my students work in pairs. I remind the partners that there is to only be one group at a time at a snail poster. You can also use a timer and give each group five minutes at each snail poster. At the end, give students the opportunity to go back to a poster if they are missing any information.
Step 5: Go over the Snail Research Fill-in-the-Blank Worksheet together to check for understanding.
Step 6: Divide students into small groups. Give each student a copy of the Snail Observation Worksheet printable.
Step 7: Give each group at least two snails to observe. Have students first observe the snails using magnifying glasses.
Step 8: Have students follow the directions on their handout and record their findings.
Step 9: As a whole class, compare students' findings. Ask students the following questions:
- Were any two snails alike?
- What did your snail do when you placed cornmeal in front of it?
- How fast did your snail travel in a straight line? What about the incline? And the decline?
- Could your snail get around the obstacle? If so, how?
- What conclusions can we draw as a whole class about snails?
Supporting All Learners
More advanced learners may work on the Walk-Around-the-Room Handout independently. ELL learners may work with an English-only student. More advanced learners may also create other ideas to try with the snails. All learners can make observations and participate with the experiment for hands on learning.
- Host the Snail Olympics! Set up obstacle courses for the snails and race them.
- Graph the class results of the snail experiments.
- Have students put their backpacks on with one medium book in it (to simulate the shell) and have them try to slide across the floor.
Have students demonstrate for their families how a snail travels. Encourage them to explain why a snail needs a small house and tell their families three facts they learned about snails.
- Label the parts of the snail
- Create and draw an obstacle course for a snail
- Were students able to complete the research?
- Were students able to identify parts of the snail?
- Were students on task in their groups?
- Did students complete the research?
- Did students correctly use the ruler to measure the snail?