Creating a Terrarium

By Francesca Singer

Looking for a different kind of DIY project to do with your children? Try a terrarium.

Let’s face it: Kids and dirt go together. Creating a terrarium gives them a chance to bring a little dirt and nature inside. Plant a woodland terrarium of your own using glass containers, moss, plants, and soil. Include crystals or other natural objects to make your terrarium personalized. Experiencing the great outdoors has never been easier!


  • Glass containers (jars, bottles, vases)
  • Small pebbles or gravel
  • Activated charcoal
  • Potting soil (seed starting soil is perfect)
  • Small plants (air plants, tropical, small ferns)
  • Moss (dried sphagnum or harvested live) 
  • Small objects (optional)


1.Select your glass jar, bottle, or vase. Terrariums come in many shapes and sizes, so feel free to experiment. I just happened to have this large jar handy, but any glass vessel you can seal will do. Wash your container out well and dry it completely.

2. Cover the bottom of your glass container with an inch or so of gravel. Aquarium gravel is perfect and comes in many colors. Sprinkle a layer of activated charcoal. You can find this at a pet store or hardware store with gardening supplies.

 3. Cover the layer of charcoal with a layer of soil, filling about one-third of the jar.

4. Soak your moss in water. You can find sphagnum moss in garden centers and arts and crafts stores. If you live near any wooded or waterways, you can harvest a little live moss. Regardless of how dry your moss may look, once it’s is hydrated it will come to life.

5. Gently press your plants into the soil, covering the roots with additional soil if needed. Arrange them in a way that they will have room to grow away from the walls of the jar (the less the leaves touch the glass, the better). If your vessel is deep, you may want to use chopsticks to maneuver plants around. 

6. Once your plants are nestled into position, squeeze the water out of your moss and press it into the soil around your plants. Make sure it covers most of the soil. Place any figurines, stones, or seashells into the terrarium now.

7. Add a little water slowly, watching the gravel in the bottom of the terrarium. Once you can see water covering the very bottom of the container, you have enough. Wipe the inside glass (you may need to use a paper towel wrapped around a chopstick if your vessel is narrow), seal your container, and you’re done!

Place your terrarium in a bright area out of direct sunlight. A desktop or north-facing window is an ideal spot. From time to time, you’ll want to clean the inside walls of the jar. Children will be fascinated as they watch the plants grow. Encourage them to keep an eye on the water levels to make sure the plants stay healthy.  

Francesca Singer is a DIY enthusiast who splits her time between Texas and rural France. When not writing or wrangling a toddler, she can be found wielding power tools or working in the garden.