With the Kids

Make a Kid-Friendly Terrarium

Terrariums are a great craft for kids because they are fun in all stages of development. Picking out plants, containers and little figurines to go inside can be just as fun as making the kid-friendly terrarium and watching it grow!

Make a Kid-Friendly Terrarium

Make a Kid-Friendly Terrarium

But let me back up a bit. What’s a terrarium, you say? A terrarium is a way of growing plants in an enclosed or partially enclosed container usually made of glass or plastic. It’s a bit like container gardening, but with glass containers. They have gone in an out of popularity since the 1800s, enjoying a particular hey day in the 1970s, and are again returning to popularity. They are easy to establish and make a wonderful craft for bored kids at home during the summer.

Today I’m making a kid-friendly terrarium with my friend’s daughter Ivy, who recently turned 8. My two year old daughter was very interested in the process but a bit too young to be trusted with glass.

You can build a terrarium in just about any container. I posted about the many containers for terrariums I’ve used and you can find an enormous array of items people have used for containers. I found a cache of cheap goldfish globes for ten cents each at a thrift store, but Michael’s has them cheaply as well in a range of sizes.


  • glass containers – any size or shape
  • soil
  • gravel,
  • small plastic animals – for kid-friendly decorating!

Although succulents are my favorite plants for terrariums, many plants will work. Ferns, ground covers, and spider plants are good choices, too. Closed terrariums require plants that thrive in high humidity, but you have a little more leeway in an open terrarium.


The first step is to fill your terrarium with an inch or two of gravel. I like aquarium gravel which you can find at a pet store but I have used plain old gravel from the backyard before with no ill affects. Aquarium gravel just looks nicer and the bonus is that it comes in many colors so your child will have a variety to choose from.

It also comes in different sizes, but since we used small containers we bought the smallest size of gravel. Larger containers can use any size of gravel.

Next, gently remove your plant from its container and break up the root ball slightly. Set it in the center of your terrarium and fill the area around it with soil. Soil designed for cacti work well in terrariums even if you are using other kinds of plants. Drainage is key to prevent your plants from rotting or developing fungus. Though watching mold develop could be considered an educational bonus. (Look honey! You created fungus! A miracle of nature!)

Depending on your child’s dexterity they may need help with this part.

(Also, and this probably goes without saying, it’s best to do this outside.)

After the plant is nestled in place comes the fun part: choosing and arranging your plastic figures in their verdant new habitat. Monkeys are always fun, but so are ninjas, little mushrooms, and sea creatures. Any figure small enough to find a home in a terrarium will work.

Kids always like this part the best, but secretly I think adults do, too.

Let the soil dry a bit in between watering, but also let the condition of the plant inform you if they need water. Caring for a plant is a good skill to develop in children and the responsibility makes them feel important.

There you have it – an inexpensive activity that results in a lovely kid-friendly terrarium both you and your child will enjoy.

Guest post by Carrie of Little Big – I am a former librarian who now works from home while watching my two year old daughter. I write Little Big, run a vintage Etsy shop and have a small photography business. I focus on creative domesticity, incorporating thrift store finds in to the home, cooking and crafting, and having adventures with my family.


  1. Great article on terrariums for kids. I couldn’t resist using it in my recent post on the Top 10 Reasons to Make a Terrarium. Keep up the good work!

  2. I just found your blog after researching making terrariums with kids. I personally love terrariums and want to work them into my decor but also think making on with my son will be fun. (maybe a prettier one for me and a more playful one for him) I am for sure going to use your idea on the adding the plastic figures to his, love that idea and he will too. So cute!

  3. Hi Hannah! I keep a lookout at grocery stores and other places that have vending machine toys. I’ve had great luck with finding unusual and fun terrarium inhabitants in those machines, but I’ve also found wonderful animal collections at the dollar store and at Micheal’s stores. A reader recently told me he was going to make one with his son and use Hotwheel’s cars, so really, the sky’s the limit!

  4. I am so excited to do this with the children I babysit! One question, though–where did you get those animals? Are all of them thrifting finds? Because frankly, that gorilla is TODIEFOR.

  5. I love love love working with plants and I’m so excited to start doing these types of activities with my daughter! So fun.

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