Nature Canada

NatureHood Activity: Snail Charming with the Prince Edward Point Bird Observatory

Our lives look a little differently these days, and many of us are viewing time in nature as a go-to activity for children. Nature Canada’s NatureHood program traditionally works to connect young people to urban and nearby nature across the country through partnerships with local nature organizations.

Many organizations have currently put their in-person programs on hold—but continue to offer online events, activity resources, and more to help young people experience observation of nature and learn from their natural curiosities.

One of those organizations is the Prince Edward Point Bird Observatory (PEPtBO). PEPtBO is a migratory bird research station that engages the public in organized activities, including through the welcoming of school groups to its National Wildlife Area. 

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, PEPtBO has a GET OUT! Kids’ Club to encourage families with little ones between the ages of 3 and 13 to experience nature right in their neighbourhood. Membership in the club is free and gives families access to a growing inventory of home-spun activities that will help people facilitate nature experiences in their yard or neighbourhood. This includes citizen science and nature-based wellness activities!

Families are also invited to share their nature experiences on the GET OUT! Kids’ Club Facebook page as part of weekly live chats. The PEPtBO team was kind enough to provide us with a nearby nature activity that’s perfect for kids.

Snail Charming 101

Snail charming is a masterful exercise in patience, one that can reap splendid rewards. This activity is all about feelings: recognizing how you feel inside, understanding how you can shift your feelings, and noticing how your feelings can affect the beings around you. 

Anyone who has ever picked up a snail will know it’s worrisome for that critter. The snail will retreat to its shell until it feels safe again. Snails can’t talk or hear, but they can feel. A Snail Charmer uses good feelings to make the snail feel comfortable enough to leave its shell.

Ready, set…let’s go snail charming!

Step 1: Charming a snail begins by holding still. Get comfortable!

Step 2: Place the snail, open side down, on the palm of your little one’s hand. Remember that we must be gentle when touching a living critter. Our hands must be free of sunscreen and insect repellent. 

We recommend letting a child touch the snail with just a fingertip at first. Place it onto their hand once comfortable. This gradual introduction makes for a better nature experience for all. Take care to ensure the snail doesn’t drop to the ground!

Step 3: Ask a child to think happy thoughts and send the snail those peaceful feelings. The snail will soon feel safe. The opposite is also true: feelings of frustration and impatience will  not help the critter reappear. Snails never rush. 

Step 4: Take care when the snail begins to emerge. Too much excitement can send the critter back into its shell. Stay calm and thank it for trusting you. Wait for the eye stalks to emerge. What fun it is when you realize your little snail is looking at you. Say hello! 

Step 5: And most importantly, return the snail to where you found it or to a safe place nearby.

Thanks to the Prince Edward Point Bird Observatory team for this activity! You can learn more about their GET OUT Kids’ Club here and share your nature finds on their Facebook page and on our social media pages @NatureCanada.  

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