- Clear container with a cover (ours is from ikea.com)
- Small gravel pebbles (available at pet and gardening stores)
- Charcoal bits (available at a gardening store)
- Potting soil
- Various plants
- Moss, bark, and shells (optional, for decoration)
- Spray bottle
- Have your child spread a 3/4" layer of gravel on the bottom of a clear container for drainage, then place a thin layer of charcoal bits over the gravel. This helps to keep the plants from decaying.
- With your child, layer at least 2" of potting soil over the charcoal. Create hills and valleys to accommodate plant roots.
- Help him use a fork to rake a hole in the soil and insert the roots. Cover with soil up to the base of the plant. Be careful not to overcrowd the container. You can use any small plant that does well in moist climates and partial light, such as baby tears, pepperomia, dwarf violets, small ferns, and spleenwort plants.
- Insert a chopstick firmly into a cork to create a tamping tool. Let your child firmly pat the soil around the base with the tool to even out the surface.
- Add moss, bark, shells, plastic creatures, or other decorations as landscape features.
- Once the terrarium is complete, have your child mist it several times with a spray bottle, enough to wet the soil. Put the lid on to allow moisture to build up and water the plants. When the container becomes clouded and starts to form drops of "rain" on the glass, remove the cover until the excess moisture evaporates. A balanced terrarium should have some moisture built up but shouldn't get oversaturated.
- Help your child continue to care for the terrarium by monitoring its water needs and misting it when necessary. He'll love to observe the plants as they thrive in their own little ecosystem!
Copyright ? 2006. Reprinted with permission from the March 2006 issue of Child magazine.