Last week’s school garden activity was hands-down the most fun of anything we’ve tried in a long time. Thirty-some first graders, a couple of helpful fourth grade “judges” and 10 eager snails. Put them together and what do you get? The perfect ingredients for a great backyard game: Snail races.
Although snail races are lots of fun with large groups, you can just as easily enjoy them in your own backyard. For this activity, we only needed a few items:
- Two pieces of 8×10 paper
- Something heavy to hold the paper down (like rocks or heavy sticks)
* Finding snails is the trickiest part of this activity. (We were lucky enough to have our school’s master gardener bring us a bunch.) If you aren’t sure where to find some, you can read up on ways to find and catch a garden snail here. Just be sure to let them go where you found them once the races are over.
Recommended age: 5+ years (or younger kids who are patient and gentle with small critters)
1. To set up the course, place the two pieces of paper on a flat surface. This creates a course that took our snails 3 to 5 minutes to finish. You can shorten or lengthen the course depending on your child’s attention span.
2. Create a “start” and “finish” line. Don’t forget to add in names for each of your snail contestants.
3. Choose one person to be a “judge” – this person’s job will be to keep the snails on course during the race. (Turns out these critters aren’t always interested in moving in a straight line.) This could be an adult or an older child who is gentle with snails.
4. Set the snails at the starting line.
5. Start the race. Be sure to cheer each of the contestants on!
6. Continue until one snail reaches the finish line. Or wait until each does.