The snow has finally arrived in our town. Peanut and Button were chomping at the bit to go sledding, I had been scrambling to find where I “safely put away” the snow gear, and the kids got bored! While the snow was really heavy, and given Button has only recently been cleared for snow play by his doctors, I decided to give them an activity to do to take their mind off the excitement of going outside to hurl themselves down hills.
Today became Terrarium Day! I had been planning on creating one with the children eventually, and now was the perfect time. A terrarium is a container, usually glass or plastic that recreates an environment or habitat for plants or small creatures. We made a closed terrarium today, and we began by posing a question to the boys: “Do you think a plant will survive if we close up the container and never water it? This caused a prolonged debate over what was going to happen to the plant, including Button’s argument that it was cruel to kill a plant just to see what will happen. I was rather proud that he cared!
We finally formed a hypothesis. The plant needed water to survive. Peanut, having already studied the water cycle did think that condensation might lead to some kind of precipitation, but he didn’t quite know why it would happen without water being added. So I guess the hypothesis was that the plant was going to live…somehow, but no one knew why.
How to build the terrarium:
1. Select a plastic or glass container – we used a plastic tub with a lid that sealed tight. The container should be transparent.
2. Place pebbles at the bottom of the container – this helps drainage. Course sand could be used too but we had a nice collection of pebbles from the beach that we could use. Keep pebbles fairly small.
3. Place soil on top – we used potting soil that I had in the garage. We are not going fancy, but there are some special soils if you are growing plants like cactus.
4. Carefully add the plant – you may want to use seeds but we started with a small plant. We used Golden Pothos which is easy to pick up in any garden store. It is supposed to be pretty hardy too…a bonus!
5. Arrangement and Ornaments – given more time, we might have had a variety of plants, a bigger container and some ornaments to adorn our terrarium. Given that I threw this activity together in a flash, we had what was on hand (the plant came from a neighbor who was growing the plant in her house), we were going more for the science experiment look then a display. (That’s my excuse and I’m sticking to it!)
What kind of learning experiences have you thrown together in a snap which have worked out successfully? Are there any projects you loved which may take more planning but are totally worth it? Let’s share some sanity savers for these cold months ahead!