Terrariums For Kids
There’s no arguing that terrariums bring beauty and greenery to an indoor space, adding an element of peace and tranquility to the overall aesthetic. Besides their aesthetic value, these miniatures greenhouses also offer many additional benefits that can be reaped by children. As these self-contained ecosystems grow in popularity more people are becoming aware of the benefits and encouraging the creation of terrariums for kids.
Why Terrariums for Kids are Beneficial
At some time or another, just about every elementary school child has come home with a disposable cup filled with potting soil and a couple of seeds or a plastic bottle terrarium they built a “science project”. There’s a good reason for this!
Growing plants, especially inside a terrarium is an excellent learning resource for kids. They can easily observe how plants grow, how the water cycle works in an enclosed environment, and they gain the responsibility that comes with tending to their own plants.
Terrariums put plants front and center, giving kids the chance to view plant growth up close and personal. They can see new leaves form and unfurl, flowers open, and how plants move to capture the most sunlight.
It’s easy for kids to understand that rain/snow falls from the clouds to provide water to plants and the earth, but the rest of the water cycle isn’t so easy to see in real life. But this isn’t the case in a terrarium. In these miniature ecosystems moisture evaporates because of light energy (i.e. heat) from both the growing media and the leaves of plants. The water vapor rises and collects as condensation on the roof and/or walls of the terrarium. It then falls, mimicking rainfall, to provide water to the plants.
Having your child help care for the terrarium will also teach them the responsibility of caring for a living organism. The low maintenance needs of these systems make it easier to keep plants alive without constantly watering them like regular houseplants.
Building a terrarium is a great craft for kids of any age or development stage. Letting them help choose the container, the plants, and even little odds and ends to put inside fosters their creativity and makes them feel connected to the project.
Putting together a kids terrarium doesn’t require that many supplies; the following basic materials are a starting point to build a basic terrarium. You can create a more elaborate design by increasing the number of plants or designing a terrarium with a specific theme.
- Container to use — glass or plastic, lidded or open — depending on if you are building an open or enclosed terrarium.
- Growing media, activated charcoal, and rocks to build the foundation to plant in.
- Plants of your choosing. Stick to just a couple in varying sizes, colors or textures to keep the terrarium from getting too crowded while still providing contrast.
- Accent pieces to add a personal touch. These can be whatever your child wants to make it their own; just make sure everything is colorfast and can’t damage the plants.
- Spray bottle for misting the plants when they need water.
Instructions for Building a Terrarium
It’s important to follow a specific order when layering materials in your terrarium. Working from the bottom upwards add:
- A thin layer of non-porous material such as small gravel, sand, or bark chips to create a collection area for drainage.
- A thin layer of activated charcoal for water filtration and purification.
- A thin barrier (a screen or paper works well) over the charcoal layer to prevent the growing media from settling.
- A layer of growing substrate to anchor the roots of your plants and retain moisture. Common growing media types include potting mix, coconut coir, or sand.
After you’ve layered everything in the bottom of the terrarium its time to add plants! This can be tricky when working in such a small space; a plastic spoon makes a great shovel in tight quarters and will keep from disrupting all of the growing substrate.
Once everything is planted, you can add a top dressing like sand, small rocks, or moss to cover the visible soil. The top dressing helps to retain soil moisture and add another visual element to the design.
Now is also the time to arrange any “extras” your child has collected in amongst the plants. This could be larger rocks, sticks, pinecones, shells, or small plastic or ceramic figurines. Whimsical toys or decorations add creativity and personalize the terrarium to make it their own.
Terrariums are a great addition to any space for a myriad of reasons, but terrariums for kids have even more benefits! Not only do they help to foster creativity, but they also act as a wonderful learning resource, teaching kids about plant growth, the naturally occurring rainfall/water cycle, and the responsibility of tending to live plants.