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Homeschooling gives you the ultimate freedom to chose and adapt what your children learn, how they learn it and when!
This month we decided to follow the interests of my youngest son (4 years-old), and learn more about snails!
We found some fantastic resources, and have put together some fun snail-related activities, to create a rich and well-rounded unit study for young children.
This snails unit study incorporated literature, language arts, science, nature study, art, and even maths!
We postponed some of the read-alouds and activities I have planned, and instead dived whole-heartedly into the world of snails!
If you decide to give any of these ideas a try, please share you photos and tag me on Instagram or Facebook!
Snail Nature Study
It all started when we discovered snails hiding under the ivy that grows over our garden wall. The kids and I collected a few of the snails and sketched them for our nature notebooks.
I ran into the house, pulled out the Comstocks Nature Study Handbook, and turned to the lesson about snails. This book is amazing!
It had a few pages about snails for me to read and familiarize myself with, and then loads of questions and points of interest for me to ask the children. It’s a fantastic resource for nature study.
Well, as you can imagine, the kids didn’t want to part with the snails, so we set up a special snail environment for them in the house so the boys could continue to observe them.
To create the snail tank, we spread an inch on damp soil across the bottom, and the added some bark and stones for the snails to hide under. We added a very shallow jam-jar lid for water, and various fruit and vegetables for food.
We kept them with us for 3 days, careful to position the tank in a cool and quiet spot, out of direct sunlight.
When those three days came to an end, my youngest son was very sad to release them back into our garden. He had enjoyed having them around!
This was my children’s first introduction to the responsibility of having a pet. They had to feed “their” snails and look after them. It was a very valuable lesson.
The study of snails lends itself wonderfully to learning more about life cycles. For this we watched this YouTube video, followed by a read through our science encyclopedias.
Whilst we were looking through these encyclopedias, we discovered how snails fit into various food chains. After some discussion and drawing various food chains out, we watched this Youtube video for some fun! It’s a song all about Food Chains!
The encyclopedias we used for this unit study were:
The Usborne Science Encyclopedia
The New Children’s Encyclopedia
Science: A Children’s Enyclopedia
Whilst the snails were with us, the children observed their behaviour and their “personalities”. From this they decided upon names for them all (Leo, Sweetie and Apple) and together we talked more about their characters.
This character development exercise was the first step to begin writing an adventure story featuring our snails as the main characters! We’ve had a lot of fun with this activity!
I hunted all over the internet looking for some good literature about snails. I wanted a book that would capture my children’s imagination, whilst at the same time teaching them more about snails.
My favourite find was Are you a Snail? by Judy Allen and Tudor Humphries. This picture book is aimed at children under the age of 7. It is a charming little book that goes through many of the physical characteristics of snails, their habitats, what they eat and their predators in a narrative style. On top of all that, the illustrations are beautiful!
Another book that we used was Amazing Pictures and Facts about Snails by Mina Kelly. Although I do not believe this would meet Charlotte Mason criteria for a living book, my sons enjoyed reading from this book. It is essentially a collection of interesting facts about snails, accompanied by some interesting photos! Don’t be put off by the initial appearance of the book (it’s self-published) …the content is great!
In addition to their initial sketches, we copied pictures from the Are you a Snail? book to create some lovely water colour paintings for out nature journals.
My toddler joined in the fun too, creating her own snail from coloured tissue paper!
Another craft, that keep my children’s attention for days, was this Hama Bead Snail Kit. They came out beautifully! The boys were so proud of their work that we have been using it as a centre piece on our dining table!
Did you know that the spiral of the snail’s shell perfectly correlates with the Fibonacci sequence?!?! Neither did I! This is the same sequence that is seen throughout nature in the petals of flowers, bracts of a pinecone, hurricanes and galaxies.
By chance, we came across the Fibonacci sequence in my son’s Maths book: Marvellous Maths by Jonathon Litton and Thomas Flintham. If your child enjoys maths, I’d recommend this book It’s full of pop-ups and flaps all about Maths, and is suitable for children aged 7+.
We looked at the numerical pattern and then tried to draw our own “snail-shell-spiral” using the Fibonacci numbers.
My younger son (4 years-old) enjoyed measuring the length and shell height of the different snails, and recording it in a table.
This unit study was not planned. Instead it just evolved on its own!
We were able to incorporate literature, maths, science, nature study, English composition, and loads of arts and crafts.
My children and I learnt so much from this unit study. I can’t wait to see what interest my children next develop for us to explore!
What unit studies have you done recently in your homeschool?
How do you develop your children’s interests?
I’d love to hear from you in the comments section below!
Peace and Love,