Meet an Aquatic Snail

Author(s): Jennifer Howard and Reba Howard

Lesson Overview

Grade level(s):

Elementary School (K-5), Kindergarten


Biology/Life Science, FOSS-Related

Big ideas(s):

What are the major structures of aquatic snails

Vocabulary words:

shell, tentacles, foot, aquatic (optional), siphon (optional), operculum (optional)

What you need:

FOSS Animals Two by Two Big Book, 10-20 Aquatic Snails, 10-20 1/2 liter clear plastic containers (a clear plastic cup will also work), 1 piece of chart paper, 20 copies of Aquatic Snail Observation sheet (attached)


Students will begin and end the lesson in a whole group.  They will observe independently or in pairs.



Time needed:

40 Minutes

Author Name(s): 
Jennifer Howard and Reba Howard

In this lesson students will observe aquatic snails, create a realistic drawing of an aquatic snail, and create a class list of questions about aquatic snails.  This lesson is alternate or introductory lesson to the FOSS lesson on observing water snails.  Students begin and end the lesson as a whole group and observe either independently or in pairs.

Learning goals/objectives for students: 
  • observe a freshwater snail
  • communicate observations orally and through a detailed drawing
  • describe the major structures of the aquatic snail
Content background for instructor: 

In the FOSS Animals Two by Two Teacher's Manual pages 84-87.

Getting ready: 

Before the day of the lesson:

Purchase fresh water aquatic snails.  Aquatic snails can be purchased at many aquarium shops.  If you already have an aquarium add them and provide them with elodea (an aquatic plant - also available at most aquarium shops) as a source of food.  Your snails will thrive best in de-chlorinated water.  In the city of San Francisco, tap water contains both chlorine and chloramines.  In order to de-chlorinate tap water, it is best to treat tap water with de-chlorinating tablets (these are also available at aquarium shops)

Make copies of student worksheets (attached)

Decide whether your students will complete a Venn Diagram to compare Land and Water Snails or if they will create an "I Wonder..." chart about Aquatic Snails and make the appropriate chart on chart paper.

On the day of the lesson:

Fill the clear containers 3/4ths full with treated (de-chlorinated) water

Gently scoop 1 snail into each container

Lesson Implementation / Outline


Gather students on the rug and ask if they have ever seen a snail that lives in water?  Where?  Do you think that is the same type of snail that lives on land?  What do you think makes it the same?  Different?

Read Aloud the FOSS Animals Two by Two Big Book's section on snails.  Discuss.  Tell your students that today they will be observing aquatic snails.

Talk briefly about keeping the snails safe.  We will not be touching them or taking them out of the water.

Dismiss students to observation seating.


Allow students to freely observe the aquatic snails for about five minutes.

Get their attention and ask students to share some observations.  Next, model drawing an aquatic snail on the observation sheet.  While you are drawing tell the students the names for the structures they have observed.

Allow students to draw their snail and encourage them to "draw like a scientist" or draw what they really see.  They can label drawing and/or write an observation about their snail.

Checking for student understanding: 

The aquatic snail observation sheet will be your assessment for this lesson.

Wrap-up / Closure: 


Option 1--"I Wonder.."

Illict questions from students about things they are wondering or would like to learn about aquatic snails.

Option 2--Venn Diagram

Compare land snails and aquatic snails.  What do they have in common?  What things do they not share?

Extensions and Reflections

Extensions and connections: 

This lesson works well with "Meet a Land Snail" and "Create an Aquarium."  The aquatic snails can be added to the aquarium and will help to complete an ecosystem with Goldfish or Guppies, tubifex worms, and elodea.

AquaticSnailObservationSheet.doc77.5 KB
SnailVennDiagram.doc121 KB
NGSS Topics
NGSS Disciplinary Core Ideas
NGSS Performance Expectations
NGSS Performance Expectations: 
NGSS Science and Engineering Practices
NGSS Crosscutting Concepts
NGSS Crosscutting Concepts: 

Standards - Kindergarten

Physical Sciences: 
1. Properties of materials can be observed, measured, and predicted. As a basis for understanding this concept:
a. Students know objects can be described in terms of the materials they are made of (e.g., clay, cloth, paper) and their physical properties (e.g., color, size, shape, weight, texture, flexibility, attraction to magnets, floating, sinking).
Life Sciences: 
2. Different types of plants and animals inhabit the earth. As a basis for understanding this concept:
a. Students know how to observe and describe similarities and differences in the appearance and behavior of plants and animals (e.g., seed-bearing plants, birds, fish, insects).
b. Students know stories sometimes give plants and animals attributes they do not really have.
c. Students know how to identify major structures of common plants and animals (e.g., stems, leaves, roots, arms, wings, legs).
Investigation and Experimentation: 
4. Scientific progress is made by asking meaningful questions and conducting careful investigations. As a basis for understanding this concept and addressing the content in the other three strands, students should develop their own questions and perform investigations. Students will:
c. Describe the relative position of objects by using one reference (e.g., above or below).
d. Compare and sort common objects by one physical attribute (e.g., color, shape, texture, size, weight).
e. Communicate observations orally and through drawings.