Snails move slowly, which makes them easy to observe.
Snails move slowly, which makes them easy to observe.

They may not be the fastest creatures on the planet, but snails are a fascinating species to study in nature. Whether you are on a camping trip, in a city park, or in the comfort of your own backyard, here are several fun snail activities for kids to teach you about this interesting animal.

Did you know that a snail has only one foot? Or that it has no bones at all? You'll learn much more about snails when you plan and play using the activities on the following pages.

Snail Locomotion

Find out how to observe exactly how snails move by making your own observation stand. See details of a snail's anatomy that will surprise you.

Snail Shelters

Build a home for snails so that you can observe how they live. Learn about their living habits, and watch the snails congregate.

Making Tracks

Create a work of art with the help of a snail. Learn how to turn snail tracks into a picture that's worthy of the refrigerator.

Ready to begin a snail activity? Get directions on great ways to observe snail locomotion on the next page.

Find more fun activities and craft ideas on the following pages:

Snail Locomotion

Snail Locomotion
Snail Locomotion

Here is the first fun snail activity that will teach you all about how snails get around.

Slow-moving snails are great for studying animal motion. If you find a snail in your garden and turn it over, you'll see that it uses a large, muscular foot to crawl along. But how does this boneless creature get around on one foot?

What You'll Need:

Sheet of clear plastic or acrylic

Books or a brick

Garden snails

Acrylic paint

Small paintbrush

Notebook

Pen or pencil

Get a pane of clear plastic or acrylic. Prop one end of the plastic on books or a brick. Position it so that you can look up through the glass from underneath. Now you have a transparent runway for watching snails.

Gather a few snails from the garden. Mark each snail with a small dot of acrylic paint on the shell. Use a different color for each snail to tell them apart. Wet the glass runway and place a snail in the middle.

Once it begins moving, watch from underneath. The foot can grip the glass while rippling muscles move it forward. The slime layer lubricates the surface so the foot doesn't get injured.

Now put several marked snails in the middle of the glass. Line them up so they face the same direction. Draw their positions in your notebook at the start.

Draw their new positions every five minutes. Do the snails move at random, or do you detect patterns in their motion?

If you don't have land snails in your area, try a similar experiment with aquarium snails. Mark some snails with paint, then put them back in the aquarium. Watch them crawl up the sides of the glass and note whether they move in a pattern. If you let algae grow on the sides of the aquarium, snails will leave trails as they eat the algae.

If you'd like to make a home for your new snail friends, go to the next page to learn how to create a snail shelter.

Find more fun activities and craft ideas on the following pages:

Snail Shelters

Snails prefer to live in cool, dark places.
Snails prefer to live in cool, dark places.

Find out about how snails live by observing them first-hand when you build a snail shelter.

How to Make a Snail Shelter

What You'll Need:

Garden with snails

Unglazed clay flower pot

Water

Small rock

Acrylic paint

Small paintbrush

If you have snails in your garden, try this experiment. Soak an unglazed clay flower pot in water and put it upside-down in the garden -- preferably in thick foliage where snails may be present. Prop one side up with a small rock so that snails can get inside. Leave overnight.

Check the pot the next day to see if snails are inside. They like cool, moist, dark hiding places.

If the pot has six or more snails, mark each with a small dot of the acrylic paint on the shell. Look in the pot the next day. How many marked snails returned? Are there new ones?

Now that you've seen how snails live at home, learn how to identify and follow their tracks on the next page.

Find more fun activities and craft ideas on the following pages:

Making Tracks

Snails can be very artistic.
Snails can be very artistic.

Our last snail activity highlights the hidden creative talents of these slow-moving creatures.

You may not think that snails can do much. But with a little help from you, they can be artists!

What You'll Need:

Garden snails

Black construction paper

Talcum powder

Have a snail hunt and see if you can collect several snails. (Be gentle! Those shells may be fragile!) Snails are nocturnal, which means they like to sleep during the day and come out at night.

You can usually find them sleeping in damp dark places, such as under a rock. One way to catch snails is to put a large clay flower pot upside down, with one side propped up, overnight in a garden.

Once you've found some snails, put them on a sheet of black construction paper and let them do what they do -- crawl around. You'll be able to see the slimy trail they leave.

When the paper is criss-crossed with snail tracks, carefully put the snails back where you found them. Sprinkle talcum powder on their tracks. Tap off the excess talcum powder, and admire your snail art.

Find more fun activities and craft ideas on the following pages:

ABOUT THE CRAFT DESIGNERS

Snail Locomotion by Maria Birmingham, Karen E. Bledsoe and Kelly Milner Halls

Snail Shelters by Maria Birmingham, Karen E. Bledsoe and Kelly Milner Halls