Tue 7: A snail’s pace

The lock-down winds on, and even as the end of it seems a while away, the beginning seems an equally distant memory. Let’s learn moving slowly, let’s learn about snails. Real big ones.

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Below are some talking points and activities to pass the time, all relating to today’s story. If young readers find it tricky; just look at the pictures and read the captions to figure it out.

Talking points

Discuss the ideas presented in the story with your family—at home or over video conferencing. Find ways to involve as many people as possible, especially those who you know are isolated by the lock-down.

  • In the top photo, is there anything about the snail’s anatomy that surprises you?
  • The writer mentions pigs, possums, rats, weka and thrushes as animals that prey on our native snails. Can you think of any other animals that might give them a tough time – in our gardens or in the bush?
  • Recently, a lack of rain seems to have been the greatest killer of native snails. Why is moisture so important for snails? Can you think of any solutions to this problem?
  • We have almost 10 times as many species of snails here in New Zealand than they do in Britain. (We have about 1400, they have only 112.) Do you have any ideas about why they have so many less species of snail over there?
  • What did you think of the snail in the photo slurping up the earthworm like we slurp up spaghetti? Did the “hard” golden eggs in the photo surprise you? Why or why not?
  • In the article, Gary Barker says that people are not as motivated to look after endangered snails as they are to look after endangered birds. What do you think about that? Do you think our native snails should be equally well-known, or not?

Task for the day

Did you notice the beautiful spiral shapes on the snail shells in the article? Looking at snail shells helped a mathematician called Leonardo Fibonacci to develop his theory about spirals. He noticed that you can draw a perfect spiral shape onto maths paper by following a pattern of numbers where the first two numbers added together make the next number in the sequence. The pattern starts with 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 13, 21 and goes on indefinitely. Similarly, a spiral shape could spiral out forever.

Go on a Fibonacci hunt—can you find any spirals? How about leaves, or flowers, that use any of these numbers?

Get Creative

Make a “nature frame” using sticks on the grass – why not put it on the front verge, by the pavement, so people passing by can appreciate it? Make a Fibonacci spiral in the middle, using any items from nature that you can find.

Drawing Challenge

Using the seashell as inspiration, can you start at the bottom of your page and work upwards in ever-increasing circles, always returning to the same base line? Try to do this without lifting your pencil or crayon from the paper.