Garden Terrarium
For ages 5 and up

Discovery Gateway has partnered with the Girl Scouts to offer fun and interesting classes, like this garden terrarium. For students who sign up for the class, we provide a fun kit with everything (including a live plant!) but you can also do this activity at home with your family by finding many terrarium making supplies around the house! Use this link to signup for future classes:

Terrariums are a great opportunity for kids to learn about ecosystems and plant care. Since you are creating a mini-environment in your clear container, it is a good chance to talk about topics like evaporation and the connection between multiple living and non-living things.

For this activity, we are suggesting that you go on a fun scavenger hunt to see how many of these materials already exist in your house and neighborhood.

  • Empty Glass or Plastic Jar. Cleaned pasta or salsa jars work great!
  • Small pebbles or rocks
  • Aquarium charcoal or sand
  • Soil
  • Moss
  • Live plants-Some plants in your garden might be ready to come inside or there might be a special kind of plant nearby where cutting will sprout a whole new plant! Always ask  before moving any plants
  • Optional Figurines like our fairy or even bugs!


  1. Locate all your objects.
  2. Layer the sand or charcoal on the bottom of the jar/container. This will help with moisture so that your aquarium doesn’t collect too much water at the bottom
  3. Layer the Pebbles. This will help the water drain from the soil
  4. Layer soil. This is where you will plant any plants that have roots.
  5. Plant the plants that have roots. How often do they need to be watered? Most plants need to be watered once a week, but observation is key to keeping your plants healthy. Do they look wilted and is your soil always dry? Maybe try watering more often. Is the soil always soaking wet? Waterless often. If you have plants with different watering needs, you might try to space them apart and try to water with an eyedropper.
  6. Add moss to the top. Do you want to keep your moss alive? Remove from the terrarium and soak in water 2-4x a month. You can also let your moss dry in a sunny place before you add it to the terrarium, and then it will just be a decoration. The moss will help keep your terrarium from losing all its moisture.
  7. Add a fun figurine, some larger rocks, or even bugs at the top.

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