I brought out this Winter Terrarium idea on a day when Younger Son had a friend over, and the two of them were killing me in a game of war-hide-and-seek-tag. They made it up, and kept changing the rules. I needed to rest. Since Kindergartners like digging in dirt almost as much as running around, this was a hit.
What we used: Plastic containers with lids (like the transparent boxes used to package salad greens), potting soil, soil from the ground, wild plants, zinnia seeds.
We filled the containers with a mix of potting soil and dirt the kids dug from the ground. We walked into the wooded area behind our house and plucked out plants. It was still winter, so we found grasses, vines, mosses and others that retained some leaves and green stems through the winter (we stayed far away from poison ivy). The idea was to see, if we brought the plants inside where it was warm, would they start growing again? We also added a few seeds, which I knew would do okay.
As they dug in the earth, the kids were disappointed to not find any earthworms and surprised that the ground was still frozen in places. They uncovered something that might have been an insect egg sac, but, thankfully, decided to leave it in the ground to hatch.
They wondered if other creatures might wake up from their winter rest once brought inside. That stopped me, because it wasn’t something I had once considered when coming up with this grand idea. I started to imagine tropical-sized centipedes and snakes rousing from the earth, busting out of the flimsy plastic containers and into my kitchen.
Fortunately, nothing that large has appeared. But we do have a tiny spider, a small centipede and several even smaller flies living in our boxes. I can handle that.
We placed the lids on the boxes (and plastic wrap on one that didn’t have a lid) and set them near a window. The covers kept the soil moist. A week later when the plants had started to grow we took off the lids and added water. Spring has come to our terrariums.