If you want teach your kids about plants but don’t have much of a green thumb, consider making a terrarium. These attractive, low-maintenance projects are an easy way to bring Mother Nature’s magic indoors. Once you do the initial set up, your terrarium will basically take care of itself.
Terrariums can be as simple as a single plant in a recycled jar.
A container with a lid will help retain moisture and cut down on
the need for watering, and the soil should supply all of the
nutrients the plants need.
A terrarium can also be home to snails or frogs. If lizards
aren't your cup of tea, use plastic "pets" instead. Be sure to do
your research before introducing an actual animal into a
If this is your first terrarium, start simple. Select a
container (with or without a lid) that can accommodate all of the
materials. Good options include fish bowls, cookie jars or large
vases. Generally, the container should be deep with an opening wide
enough so your child can easily slide his hands in and out to work
with the materials.
Next, choose your plants. Buy an assortment of succulents or
small woodland plants from your local garden shop or a home
improvement store. Select plants with similar growing requirements.
If you're feeling ambitious, plan a nature walk through your local
forest preserve to collect moss, small stones or other
An odd number of plants usually looks best, so choose either
three or five plants. Choose plants in a variety of heights and
textures to create visual interest. Consider adding at least one
plant that flowers.
Place a layer of gravel or rocks on the bottom of the container
to allow for drainage. Pour a layer of potting soil mixture over
the rocks. The rocks and soil together should take up about
one-quarter to one-third of your container. Remove the plants from
their containers, loosen the root ball and place the plants into
the soil. Place interesting stones or mosses around the main
A few inexpensive embellishments will really make this project
fun and whimsical for the kids. Add accent pieces such as miniature
plastic dinosaurs, bugs or lizards. Suddenly, a few plants and some
soil have been transformed into a Jurassic wonderland.
When all of the pieces are in place, water the terrarium and
replace the lid if you are using one.
Caitlin Murray Giles is a full-time mother of three and part-time freelance writer living in Wicker Park.
See more of Caitlin's stories here.