For as long as I can remember, I’ve had a deep love affair with all things green and growing, the woods, and nature in general.

It’s really just in my blood.

I’m the 3rd of 6 children, and our parents raised us on the most beautiful 10 acres of Ohio farmland, most of which was covered with greenhouses.

Horticulture runs deep in my family~my grandparents, aunts and uncles owned and operated a family greenhouse business & nursery for years before I was born.
My father built his large wholesale greenhouse business from the ground up, and operated it for over 20 years before my brothers took the reins.

My brother Micah is a ridiculously talented grower, and he and his wife operate a successful garden center and greenhouse in Alliance Ohio that produces some of the loveliest plants you’ve ever laid eyes on.  On top of that, they grow and sell gorgeous rare trees and miniature perennials for their online business, Maplestone Ornamentals.  

I really don’t exaggerate when I tell people I was raised in the dirt.

My childhood hours were divided pretty evenly between being IN our covered greenhouses, playing, planting, watering, loading trucks, or helping with the retail center, to being OUT in the hundreds of acres of woods and fields that surrounded our family’s country home.

So I really can’t help the fact that I am a hopeless plant & nature enthusiast, along with almost everyone else in my family.

I guess you could say that today’s tutorial is special to me since a terrarium is essentially a little greenhouse.

We’re studying botany this semester, so really, this was a project that was encouraged in our curriculum, but of course I couldn’t resist going all out with my kids to make it extra special.

Today’s also the first day of spring {Horray!  Happy first day of spring!} and even though it is a windy 37 degrees outside here in western PA, we have been thoroughly engrossed in spring activities inside at our dining room table.

Terrariums are so much fun for kids to create and play with.

Here is what you’ll need to make your own.

1.  Glass containers.  
Almost any kind can work~there are some absolutely incredible miniature terrariums out there, but if you’ve got young kids, you may want to consider something that is a bit larger so they can do the building themselves without much difficulty.

For our containers, we used things as cheap as mason jars right from the cupboard (I hot glued some hemp around the top of the one shown) and small dollar store fish tanks, to glass apothecary jars and canisters I found at TJ Maxx (each between $5 and $7). 
Shop your house first, and see what you can find.

2. Rocks ~ fish tank pebbles, river rocks, or even rocks you find out in nature.

3.  Sphagnum Moss ~ keeps everything aerated.  You can get a big bag at any home and garden store for a couple bucks.  Mist it down a bit with a spray bottle of water for easier handling.

4. Potting Soil

5. Indoor Plants  ~  If you feel you have a bit of a brown thumb, consider succulents and cacti which are much hardier (and can also withstand some kid-beating).
I let each of my kids buy two or three plants that they thought were most interesting.  I enjoyed seeing which ones they chose–often so different from what I would have selected!  🙂

6.  Moss ~ collected from your woods, and/ or the dried, store-bought kind. 
We used some of both!

7.  *Charcoal*  Coal is used as a filter and an air purifier and is very beneficial to plants.  However, it’s really only necessary if you have covered terrariums.  We simply mixed our coal (we bought Black Gold, found at the hardware store) with our potting soil according to the instructions on the bag.

8. Miniatures  ~ Totally optional, but again, if you’ve got kids, have them collect some of their tiny things to add some interest to their little terrariums.  My kids rounded up deer, bunnies, birds, benches, mini dinosaurs, eggs, etc.

9.  Branches ~ optional, but they add a woodland effect when used in terrariums.

Once you’ve got all your supplies set up, it’s time to get building.  We did ours assembly-line style and I let each of my kids build their own.  They loved it!

Layer your terrariums in this order:

Rocks, Sphagnum Moss, Potting Soil/Charcoal Mix, Plants

Now I hope you’re ready for a bajillion pictures…

Here my Joshua is adding each of his layers.  If your jar is tight, it helps to have a spoon or something to press things down.
My four year old chose this super cool looking rock succulent as one of his plants.  
He added another plant buddy, then some moss.
Of course, the best part for the kids is choosing which miniatures to add to their little terrariums.  
Two dinos live in this one.
I am a tiny bit obsessed with the dinosaur terrarium.  
It’s looks so cool.

I also took an unnecessary amount of pictures of it because I love it so.

And with the lid on…
The little dinos are just in their own little world, having so much fun.
I’m pretty sure I am going to have to steal it from my 4 year old because it’s that awesome.

My 3 year old also had a great time building his mason-jar terrarium.
Nice and simple since he IS three, after all, and loses interest rather quickly.

He found this cute little pet turtle to live there.  🙂

My 1st grader waited until her brothers were out of the way to do hers.  
Little stinker wouldn’t let me help even one little bit.  
I LOVE how hers turned out though, and it was much easier to put together because of the WIDTH of the glass container.

She filled it with all sorts of spring critters.


My proud little botanists! (the third was having a toddler moment).
Then something so neat happened…
When we were finished, I headed to the kitchen to make some lunch, and my two oldest stayed at the table and decided to make one BIG terrarium with some of the leftover supplies.  
They used the clear plastic bowl that the soil was in, and just kept planting and adding things until they had this magical scene:

How cute is this, people!??  
And check out this super tiny nest my daughter made from a bit of rope, some tacky glue, and a touch of moss!  She raided her playmobil supplies for the eggs.  
I am in love with it!  

Now their miniature people can sit at the bench overlooking the woods and do some bird watching, or go down the stone path to the little pond.  
How magical and fun.

It’s always amazing to see how kids will just RUN with an idea once they’re inspired.  

Well, that’s it.
I hope YOU’RE inspired too, to make a few terrariums with your kiddos to brighten up your home, explore nature together, and welcome spring.

Happy, Happy, First Day of Spring, Friends!


See the other posts in the Bring in Spring! Series:

One thought on “Bring in Spring! Day 3: Terrarium Love

  1. Becki Lewis

    These are beautiful! I have a container of hens and chicks which are just overflowing with offshoots, and I already have the sphagnum moss and rocks. I will be making some of these adorable projects for sure!

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