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Science Kids on the Loose

Science Kids on the Loose

Snail Research

This week on Sid the Science Kid, the children on the show investigate Environmental Systems. It is one of my favorite learning cycles because the learning is so relevant to our world today and children can see directly how their actions can have results. In the episode called Save the Stump, Sid learns that a stump that was once a tree can turn into a new habitat for living creatures.
Funny how life can mirror what we see on TV…or is it the other way around?
Leo and I arrived home last week after dropping Henry off at school to find a man digging a big hole in our front yard. I had been expecting this, since the HOA had mentioned that work was being done on the sprinkler systems on the street. Leo, of course, had no idea. It’s amazing what little kids find exciting and interesting. I was ready to smile, say hello, and walk into the house so the man could finish his work. Leo, however, wanted to check it out. What could be more interesting than a huge hole in the grass?
Well, a lot it turns out. As we got closer and started talking with the man, we saw that the hole wasn’t very deep, but the area around the hole was very wet and very muddy. Apparently, the site of leaky pipe. The gardener showed me the culprit and sighed. I guess it was going to be a bigger job than we thought. The front lawn had to be completely torn up.
But out of the holes, dirt, and mud Leo and I started noticing the LIFE all around us. We could see rolly pollies, worms, bugs, and snails. Lots and lots of snails. To be honest, snails kind of gross me out, but all the kids on the street love to find snails. And I was about to be introduced to another gross garden creature.
“Mom! What’s that?” Leo said, pointing.
“It’s a snail,” I replied. “Look Leo, its whole body is out and it’s moving pretty fast!” We admired the large shell and the antenna.
“Look Mom, a snail without the shell! Right there.”
A what? I looked closer and saw that, yes indeed, there was a snail without a shell, antenna and all. It was yellow, slimy, and moving a good clip. We were both fascinated. I didn’t know that a snail could live without a shell. Both Leo and I started asking questions. How does a snail get a shell? Was that a baby snail? How big do snails get?
So, we went inside and started investigating. I got out the iPad and we started searching for information about snails. WOW! I had no idea there was so much to learn about snails. We learned about the life cycle, habitat (our yard to be exact), what snails eat, and how they reproduce. Our shell questions was answered when we learned that baby snails start their shells from their broken egg and it grows from there. The best part was looking at the images of snails, some beautiful and some weird. So much fun!
We also learned that the other creature we saw was NOT a snail. It was a slug. A yucky icky slug. Leo was so happy! I was horrified but still curious. So, off we went on the World Wide Web to learn more about slugs. Amazingly, there is a lot of information about how to get rid of slugs and snails in gardens. I stayed away from those sites. It was mostly the photos that had Leo and I entranced. We eventually found ourselves looking at the Giant African Snail. Go and Google this creature. You’ll be blown away. Thank goodness its natural habitat is not my yard in southern California!
It was great to conduct informal research with Leo. We learned some good facts about snails and slugs while having a great time together. We also talked about habitats and why our wet yard is just the perfect kind of place for slugs and snails. Our next stop should be the library, where we can find more information in books about the critters on our street.
What kind of animals, big and small, can you find in your neighborhood habitat?

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