Springtime Snail Race!

The days are getting warmer and it really feels like Spring has arrived, doesn’t it? If you head out into the garden or to the park, you might start to see snails which are coming out of hibernation just now. Depending on how keen a gardener you are, they may or may not be particularly welcome visitors! However, before you remove them to a new location, why not have a go at this snail race?

two snails on a race track

You will need:

  • Chalk
  • A few snails
  • Some coloured dot stickers
  • A large tray, or area of paving or concrete
  • Some vegetation to tempt the snails!
4 snails in the centre of a circular racetrack

How to play:

Start by creating your race track ready for the snail race. Since it’s not guaranteed that your snails will travel in a straight line, we drew a few concentric circles to mark our race course. Arrange the plants around the outside of the track to tempt the snails forward!

Now it’s time to find your snails. Before you go looking, remind the children that they should only touch the snail shell, and that they must be very gentle so as not to damage the shell or hurt the snail. Try to remember where you found the snails so you can return them after the race!

Apply a coloured or numbered sticker to each snail shell to help you tell them apart. Place the snails in the middle of the race track. Ready, steady, GO! And they’re off! Or perhaps not. The snails might take a minute or two to get moving, so it’s a good idea to have some other things ready to play with while you wait! You can also pass the time by making predictions about which snail might be the fastest or the slowest, why you think that might be, and deciding which snail you’re each going to cheer on!

birds eye view on the circular race track. snails are in the centre with vegetation around the edge

You can also add a bit of maths in to the activity by using a timer and creating a chart. We made a simple chart showing each snail at the top.

blank chart for recording timings

Once the snails began to move, we started the timer and recorded the time of the winner of the snail race. As you can see, our blue snail was the most consistent snail and yellow never really got going! Most races took less than two minutes, except the very first, when the snails were taking their time to acclimatise to their new environment!

chart is now filled in with times recorded in a child's handwriting

Once you’re finished, make sure to remove the stickers and return the snails to where you found them. Enjoy!

What they are learning:

  • Recognising and writing numbers
  • Starting to use language related to time
  • Exploring the outdoors
  • Looking after other creatures responsibly

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