Worlds of Wonder Workshop at the Noguchi Museum: Creating a Terrarium

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Can you use activities to encourage questions?

The March 26th meeting of the Cultivating Curiosity Workshop at the Noguchi Museum explored just this idea. Teachers experimented with science-related art activities, from building terrariums to curating their own exhibit, that they could then bring back to their students to incite curiosity in the classroom.   

At whyzz, we are learning new ways to encourage curiosity. Using an activity or experiment to launch questions seems like a great idea!  We are now introducing Do and Learn - quality time experiments and activities with corresponding Q&A content. We hope you enjoy and would love your feedback. Expect more to come!    

Do and Learn

Lesson Plan: Terrarium

What is a terrarium?

Terrarium: A contained area, for keeping and raising plants for observation or research. The created environment simulates a portion of an ecosystem, for example a dry habitat (e.g.: desert), a woodland habitat, or a rainforest habitat, through the use of natural materials such as pebbles, leaf litter, and soil. In an enclosed terrarium, a natural water cycle occurs through the condensation which forms on the lid causing precipitation.   


Terrarium images, glass containers (one per student), gravel, charcoal, soil, plants, moss, branches, rocks, spray bottle (for watering), any other items students may want to plant


1. Select a glass container.

2. Add a layer of gravel to promote drainage at the bottom of the container – approximately one inch deep.

3. Cover the gravel with a thin layer of charcoal (this prevents mold).

4. Add a layer of potting soil – approximately two inches deep, depending on the size of the container and the length of the roots of the plants you will be using. Note: Together the three layers should be about â…“ of the height of the terrarium.    

5. Select plants, rocks, preserved moss, plastic figurines, or whatever else you want to include in your terrarium.

6. Insert small plants. Make sure not to overcrowd, they should be spaced out and not touching each other. 

7. Decorate with branches and moss, and other objects.

Ask your kids:

1. What are some choices you made?

2. What are you curious about?

Additional Resources:

“¢ Sprout Home – this Brooklyn-based store has a great video, which shows, step-by-step, how to build a terrarium  

*Lesson Plan created by The Noguchi Museum


Now check-out some related whyzz Q&A!

What is a succulent?                           How do rocks form?

How do plants make food?                  Where do seeds come from?

Why do trees have roots?                   What is mold?

Why is the grass green?                      Do plants have eyes? 

How does grass grow?                         Why is dirt brown?    

Why are some plants poisonous?        What is a terrarium? 

Where does water come from? 



by   (whyzz writer)
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