Saturday, June 2, 2012

The Slime Trail

The best lessons come from my students! After S., in her pink dress and manicured nails, brought in a close up picture of a slug she had found, there was much interest in this "gigantic" creature! I decided to turn from my planned lessons to some mini lessons on slugs. What five year old doesn't want to hear about mucus and slime?! Slugs are related to snails, clams, and mussels. Snails and slugs are similar in every way except one and so our learning was kicked off with my kindergarteners' outburst of,  "No shell!"

We began with learning about the size of a typical slug found in our area of the world by holding up our pinkie finger. This caused a rousing round of "Where Is Thumbkin?" when one student *gasp* didn't know which finger was called the pinkie! (Oh, woe is's kindergarten! We must sing more, fingerplay more, play more.....oh, but that's for another post.)

The most fantastic part of our learning was about the mucus that slugs produce and secrete for protection and to help them move about. It was fun to exaggerate being a bird sneaking up on a slug, only to have difficulty picking it up because of the mucus and then spitting it out because of the amount and bad taste of the mucus!

"Where are your eyes?", I had asked my students. This prompted a discussion about where a slug's eyes are.  The most obvious tentacles (which they will call antennas because they are more familiar with this term-a great opportunity to teach new vocabulary) which are easily seen, have eye spots at the tips. These eye spots sense light. Suggest to your kiddos to close their eyes almost all the way to get an idea of what this might be like.

My students have become slug detectives! They are on the lookout for the shiny trail that a slug leaves behind as it travels. Slugs produce a layer of mucus to protect it's foot (the underside of it's body) as it slides across a surface. This fun fact lends itself to a great, open-ended art activity as well. Provide your child/ren with green crayons and/or colored pencils, paper, a glue bottle, and silver glitter (rather not use glitter?...salt, crushed mica, etc. will do).  Draw a slug's leafy dream scene. With the glue bottle create a trail going here, there, and everywhere on top of your drawing. While the glue is wet, sprinkle glitter on top of the whole paper. Remove the excess glitter by dropping the extra onto a sheet of newspaper. Let it dry and hang in a sunny spot!

Although five year olds find slugs pretty cool, they (slugs...not the five year old) are considered a gardener's pest! They eat leaves and gardeners spend many hours ridding their environments of slugs. My favorite way to enlist a child's help in deterring slugs from entering the garden is creating a barrier that slugs will not want to cross. This helps children use their new knowledge about slugs in a helpful/not hurtful way. The link below will teach you several ways to deter slugs from choosing your garden as the hot spot:


Look at the world through a child's eyes and follow the slime trail!


  1. It looks like you had some fun with this! I would like to have seen a picture of the slug trails that your students made. Fun!
    Heidi Butkus

  2. Thanks for the comment Heidi! Absolutely, I'll post some on Monday.

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