There is something about the miniature size of a terrarium that just hollers a kid’s world! The glass gardens, or terrariums, are ways of growing plants such as ferns, succulents, moss or cacti in plastic or glass containers. What kid (or adult for that matter) doesn’t look at the tiny incubated space and let their imagination run wild! One fun and educational project to do with your kids is to create a terrarium for their book nook— they can set it in a corner of a room where they like to read. They can even make a terrarium that has items in it from their favorite stories.
It’s easy to make a Storytime terrarium with your kids. With just a few standard supplies and a lot of imagination, your child can create a world where their favorite memories from books are put on display.
- Glass or plastic container
- tiny rock or gravel
- potting soil
- any variety of succulents, moss, ferns, cacti, spider plants, ground cover
- personalized plastic or ceramic animals, gnomes, pinecones, shells, or any other items to use as props for kid-friendly decorating
(Cover a table with a large trash bag or make your terrarium outside as a way to keep the dirt from going everywhere.)
Fill your terrarium with about an inch of gravel or rock. Aquarium gravel, found in pet stores, is a good option and it comes in lots of different colors and sizes for your child to choose. Tiny gravel works best in small containers, but you can choose a large gravel for larger containers.
Next, add your layer of soil directly on top of the gravel so that the container is half full.
Gently remove small plants from their pots and tease the root ball by breaking it apart. Create some holes in the soil inside the container and place the plant directly in the hole, filling around it with more potting soil. Give plants room around one another so there is plenty of natural drainage when watering. (If planting cacti use gloves.)
You can add moss or ferns to fill in some of the space around the container. Next, fill in the space with props: animals, sea creatures, ninjas, dolls, army figures, Lego people, little mushrooms or any figurine that will fit into the terrarium. Great books like Dr. Doolittle, The Cat in the Hat, Where the Wild Things Are, Charlotte’s Web, HUSH, The Lion and the Mouse, Extra Yarn and If You Give a Mouse a Muffin give a lot of options for building in personalized props for your terrarium.
It is best to keep the soil mostly dry with occasional misting when needed. If the soil gets too wet, fungi may grow. But then it becomes a science experiment! Place the terrarium in a book nook in the house or a corner of a bedroom where your child loves to read. Storytime terrariums are fun ways to create little worlds that encourage your kids to read.
Aimee Serafin, editor of the Augusta Family Magazine.