Blind Snail Trail
The Taynish National Nature Reserve, local schools pack
- To explore an area using senses other than sight
- To work together as a team
You will need
- clothes pegs
- blindfolds (optional)
Did you know?
Some of the simplest eyes are found in animals like snails, who cannot actually "see" in the normal sense. They do have photosensitive cells, but no lens. They can distinguish between light and dark, but no more and this enables snails to keep out of direct sunlight.
Before the activity
Get the class to think about how 'deprived' they would be if they lost their sense of sight and how much they would rely on other people to describe the world around them. What would they miss most? What might happen to their other senses?
Divide the class into two groups. The groups go to separate places and set up a trail for each other. They should select a route which avoids dangerous spots such as low branches or steep slopes. They should try and pass as many interesting features as possible and include as many as possible of the following experiences:
- cold and clammy
- rough and dry
- cracked and fissured
- strong and pongy
- musty and mouldy
String is tied along the route using trees and clothes pegs to hold the string at hand height.
One group are the guides and each guide leads a "poor old blind snail" for a woodland walk. The "snails" can wear blindfolds or keep their eyes closed. The guide has to make sure that the snail doesn't fall or bump into anything. As they walk slowly along with the "snail" holding onto the string with one hand, the guide makes the trail as interesting as possible for the "snail" by describing any obstacles or features. The guides ask lots of probing questions like 'What can you smell?' 'What does it feel like?' Can you feel ... can you hear...? The guides prompt the "snails" to keep focused on their non-visual senses, to feel the heat of the sun, the shade of the trees, to hear the sound of birds, the wind, rustling leaves etc. The guides try to make it as rich an experience as possible for the "poor blind snail"!
The guides and "snails" then swap over for the second group's trail.
Suggested Follow up
Get the group to talk about how they felt as a 'blind snail' did they become very reliant on the string in their hand and their guide? Was it very difficult not to open their eyes or take off the blindfold when they became uncertain or curious about something? Get them to write a description of their normal walk to somewhere familiar, such as school, the shops or a friend's house, by feel and sound and smell.