a terrarium to make with your children

Monday was a snow day, an actual snow day and not an ice day, or a “freak out because it might snow” day. Honestly, I’m feeling a little done with all the snow, I’m ready for the green of spring, the daffodils, the sun.

I think that terrariums are one of the coolest things ever. I love that they are essentially their own little ecosystem, you can do tropical plants, succulents, cacti, any grouping of plants that has similar requirements. They add not just beauty, but also the perfect self-contained environment for your child to watch and study. You and your child can build and plant the terrarium, and then observe and document the changes and the growth that you see over the course of the plant’s life.

A terrarium to make with your children -- Bring spring a little early | montessori works

Imogen and I planned on making the terrarium about a week ago when we came upon an inexpensive shamrock (oxalis) plant at the grocery store. Riding on the St. Patrick’s Day theme, I repurposed a crystal pendant to hang in the terrarium – hopeful when we have sun, it will cast beautiful rainbows in and around the terrarium. And, since Imogen was sure a terrarium was not complete without a flower, we added a pansy.

A terrarium to make with your children -- bring spring a little early | montessori worksMaterials

  • Large container with lid – I found ours at HomeGoods
  • Layer of small rocks – We had extra aquarium gravel from our fish tank, but you can use any rocks
  • Activated charcoal – You can buy this at a pet store in the fish tank department
  • Potting soil
  • Plants that have the same light and water requirements
  • Moss – We dug this up from our front yard before the snow. I think moss is optional, we just have a WHOLE LOT of moss
  • Any little decorations or figurines
  • Small shovel

Process:

Imogen was able to do most of the layering of materials by herself with her little gardening shovel. I did help prep the plants and really secure them in the soil.

First, Make a layer of small rocks – about an inch deep.

A terrarium to make with your children -- bring spring a little early | montessori works

Next, add the activated charcoal, making a layer about an inch deep.

A terrarium to make with your children -- bring spring a little early | montessori works

Add about half the amount of potting soil you think you’ll need, leaving small holes where you will place your plants – you will add the rest of the potting soil after you add your plants to the terrarium.

Prep plants. I divided ours in half and knocked off most of the soil that came from their pot.

A terrarium to make with your children -- bring spring a little early | montessori works

Place your plants in the terrarium and fill spaces with potting soil.

Add the moss on top of potting soil.

Add any decorations you would like. First, I secured our crystal with tape, but that was pretty silly. Once the terrarium started it’s own water cycle, that tape failed! We are seeing if hot glue will hold better.

A terrarium to make with your children -- bring spring a little early | montessori works

Lightly water the plants.

Find a place that meets your plants sun requirements (never put a terrarium in direct sunlight, it can cook the plants!), and watch it go and grow!

A terrarium to make with your children -- bring spring a little early | montessori works

Once the terrarium is established, it should need very little maintenance. The terrarium makes it’s own water cycle. As the terrarium heats up, the water evaporates from the soil and you can see it gathering and condensing on the lid of the terrarium. This water will then drip back down on the plants (mini rain!). If your terrarium seems too wet – the sides and top are constantly covered in mist and condensation – take the lid off and let some of the water evaporate. If all goes well, your plants should continue to grow and flourish in the terrarium. Go plant a terrarium and get a jump on spring!

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