Eating Like a Snail

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SWBAT identify how a snail gets nourishment by observing a snail eating a choice of lettuce or kale.

Big Idea

A snail has body parts that are hard to identify. This lesson lets the kids see how and what a snail will eat.


15 minutes

To begin this lesson, I get out the snails right away.

I go over the expectations, which they have almost memorized by now:


  • stay in seat
  • keep hands in lap until asked to use them
  • be very quiet at your seats
  • always look at the snails, but never touch them


  • you will sit at your seat and use the magnifying glass to look closely at your snail without touching them
  • you will look at your snail to determine how your snail eats
  • you will talk to your table friends about how snail eats. Where does the food go?

I place the snails on laminated construction paper mats on each table while the kids patiently wait. The helper of the day passes out a magnifying glass to each student at their spot.

I have them observe the snails for a few minutes and then I walk the room and provide a small food platter for each snail at each table. I ask the table leader to give each person at their table a different item. They rotate in a clockwise manner offering the snail their food item.

List of foods on each table plate:






The snails are given one minute per item to decide whether they want to eat an item or not. The kids record a yes or no next to a pic of each item. While they do that they observe how the snail eats and where they think the food goes.


5 minutes

I collect the snails and return them to their habitat. I then call one table at a time to the floor to sit like scientists.

I ask the kids to think silently in their heads about what foods their snail ate and did not eat. They then share with their floor partners about the experience with their snail.

I then ask for volunteers to share what they observed their snail eating and not eating. I record the information on a chart with a check in the box under the food(s) heading, one per table. See chart in resources.

To support our math standards, I count up the totals in each food column and record the total number under each column. I then ask the kids to determine which food did the snails eat the most. I give them a few seconds to think about it and then I pull a name stick from the name stick can. I call on that student to share which food they think the snail ate most and to explain his/her thinking.

The kids use this information to determine which foods, in general, snails like and do not like. I always warn them about SALT. We are never to use salty foods with the snails as it will kill them! The kids are expected to remember this fact when completing the evaluative task at the end of this lesson.


5 minutes

I read the book, Snail, by Jens Olesen. I pause on the page about what snails eat. We discuss how the foods on the page are like some of the foods we offered the snail and how some are not.

We talk about snails being plant eaters, herbivores, and why they may or may not like some foods.

I then explain to them why we should never put anything salty near on on a snail.

I ask the following questions as I read:

  • What is the snail doing in this picture? Why do you think it is doing that?
  • How does the snail move and travel?
  • What does the text say the snail eats?
  • How does that compare with the food we offered the snail?
  • Now that we know more about snails, how could we make our classroom habitats better for our snails?


10 minutes

The kids are asked to sit at their tables by being called one table at a time. The table leaders get the science journals for each person at their table as they go sit down.

I ask them to open their science journals to the next blank page. The glue a snail on the center of the page. They label one side yes and one side no. They then cut and glue the foods their snail ate under the yes side and the foods it didn't eat under the no side.

I roam the room and ask the kids to explain their choices as the kids work in their journals. I also ask them why they think some foods are tasty to the snail and some are not.

My favorite is when a little boy tells me that snails don't like carrots because they are gross. He knows that because he ate them and he thinks they are gross!