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Simply STEM (May)

Welcome to this month’s Simply STEM activity! Today, we are making a mini terrarium garden! A terrarium is a small enclosed space filled with plants. They are usually in small glass containers and are designed to look like a small version of a garden. This activity is perfect for students because you won’t need an actual garden. Your students will be able to design their own miniature gardens on their desks! 

Name: Mini Terrarium
Time: 10-15 minutes

This activity is designed to teach your students about how different ecosystems look and function. You can use real plants and soil for this activity or you can use artificial materials. For this example, I will be constructing a terrarium filled with artificial succulent plants. If you are using real plants and soil, you want to make sure that the plants your students pick for their terrarium are the same type of plant. Plants thrive in different environments, so you want to make sure that all the plants they use are the same type. I suggest getting succulents for your students if you decide to use real plants. Their leaves are designed to store water, so they do not need much of it. They thrive in drier environments, so this type of plant will be easy for your students to care for and maintain.

Materials List

  • Glass bowl or fishbowl 
  • Small rocks
  • Artificial soil or moss
  • Artificial plants
  • Decorative rocks or fun decor 
  • Note cards 
  • Markers 
  • Tape (optional) 

Step 1: Fill your glass container with a thick layer of rocks at the bottom. If you are using real plants, this step is important because the rocks will help drain the water from the soil that will be added on top. 

Step 2: Fill your glass container with a thicker layer of moss (or soil for real plants). Make sure to leave room at the top for your plants and decorations. 

Step 3: Add your plants on top and make sure that they all fit in the container comfortably. If you are using real plants, be careful with the roots when you are planting them into the soil. Pat a good amount of soil around the plant so that it does not move around. Decorate your mini garden with more rocks and fun decorations! I added a small lawn gnome and a mushroom to my garden for some extra style!

Step 4: Have your students create a small diagram showing the different layers of their terrarium. Take a small note card and with markers, draw pictures of the different layers. As an option, they can tape their card to their glass container. 

Thank you for checking out this month’s Simply STEM activity! We hope you have fun recreating this activity with your programs. See you next month for another activity! Missed last month’s activity? Check it out here:

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