Meet a Land 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 structures of Land Snails?

Vocabulary words:

Land Snail, mucus trail, tenticles, foot, shell, mouth

What you need:

10-20 Land Snails (its best to try to collect them on your own), 10-20 1/2 liter clear plastic containers, 20 copies of Land Snail Observation sheets, 1 small opaque container large enough to hold a land snail (I use a plastic egg), one cup of tap water, access to chart paper, white board or chalkboard, pencils and crayons.


This lesson begins with a whole group game, during the observation students may work alone or in pairs, students will draw their own snail observation, at the end of the lesson students will gather back into a whole group.

Time needed:

30-40 Minutes

Author Name(s): 
Jennifer Howard and Reba Howard

In this lesson students will play a guessing game, observe land snails, and create a realistic drawing of a land snail.  At the end of the lesson they will brainstorm things they wonder about Land Snails.

This lesson is alternate or introductory lesson to the FOSS lesson on observing land 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 land snail and identify its major structures (foot, shell, tenticles, and mouth)
  • draw a realistic picture of a land snail that includes the structures listed above
  • communicate their observations orally and through drawing
Content background for instructor: 

Refer to FOSS Animals 2x2 Teacher's Guide pages 84-87.

Getting ready: 

Before the day of the lesson:

  • collect snails (they need to be kept in a container with a lid and will eat lettuce)
  • copy worksheets (attached)

On the day of the lesson:

  • dunk snails into water to clean them and "wake" them up
  • place one snail in each plastic container, cover, and keep out of sight
  • put one snail into the opaque container

Lesson Implementation / Outline


Mystery Egg

Bring your concealed snail to a whole group class meeting where you have access to chart paper, white board, or chalkboard.  The students will play a game like "20 Questions" where they can ask you questions to figure out what is in the container.  The questions must be able to be answered with a yes or no (if appropriate for your students).  I record with words and pictures.  When students guess that a snail is in the egg, show them the snail and explain that today we will be observing Land Snails.

Safety Talk

Let students know that they can touch the snails but they must be gentle.  It is better to slide them than try to pull them off of a surface.


Send students to tables and pass out Land Snails.  Ask the kids to look for all of the special structures or parts of the snail.  After 3-5 minutes regain students' attention and ask them to share some of the things they've seen.  Give them the vocabulary to talk about the tentacles, foot, shell, mouth, and mucus trail.  Next, model drawing a snail on the Land Snail Observation worksheet as you draw the structures continue to reinforce the new vocabulary and give some more information about the snail.  Pass out the worksheets and ask the students to draw and write about the snail they've been observing.  Give your students between 5 and 10 minutes to complete their drawings.

Checking for student understanding: 

The Land Snail Observation worksheets will be your assessment tool for this lesson.  Did they accurately draw a snail with two sets of tentacles, a shell, a foot, and perhaps a mouth?

Wrap-up / Closure: 

At the end of the lesson come together and share the FOSS Animals Two by Two Big Book's section on snails with your students.

Extensions and Reflections

Extensions and connections: 

This lesson works well with Meet an Aquatic Snail and Create a Terrarium.


Snails are fast movers and can easily climb out of containers.  Make sure to keep an eye and/or lid on them.

Land_Snail_Observation_Sheet.doc70 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:
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:
a. Observe common objects by using the five senses.
b. Describe the properties of common objects.
e. Communicate observations orally and through drawings.