Terrarium Habitats

Grades K—6

Written by Kimi Hosoume and Jacqueline Barber

Mmmmmm, DIRT. Terrarium Habitats springboards from youngsters' fascination with the stuff to explore the denizens, constituents, and properties of soil—an element we take for granted, but which provides everything from habitat to nutrients essential to the life cycle. The activities in this guide bring this hidden world up close, deepening student understanding of and connection to all living things.

Teams of students design and construct terrariums for the classroom, creating micro-environments that unfold and change over time. The guide includes concise and interesting biological information on a number of possible small organisms (sow bugs, isopods, earthworms, snails...) that can become terrarium inhabitants. Students observe these and other terrarium components and record changes over time.

There are detailed instructions on setting up and maintaining the terrariums. Special features include an optional soil-profile test for older students, and making "decomposition bags" to learn more about the natural life cycle.

This unit makes a great, earthy complement to the GEMS guide Ant Homes Under the Ground.

Praise for
Terrarium Habitats

"If exposing children to little animals early in their lives is a way to encourage a lifelong love of nature, then the GEMS teacher's guide Terrarium Habitats is a must for teachers of K-6. It is full of good information linking Earth science goals with life science goals. As with every GEMS Guide, the information is straightforward, easy to read, easy to prep for, and builds upon the previous activity's outcome. There is no need to worry whether or not the experiment will work because GEMS Guides are tried and true…Hopefully, these early childhood connections will help to build a nation of thoughtful adults who respect every creature's right to live in the world."

National Science Teachers Association Recommends

Terrarium Habitats takes you subsurface, to the underground cycles of decomposition, plant uptake, and animal harvest. Each chapter builds on its predecessors...lets kids aged five to eleven catch their learning-curve breaths. You get a snapshot of your mandate for every activity with clear illustrations and kids-in-action photos."

Whole Earth, Spring 1999

Comment on this GEMS unit.

Terrarium Habitats cover

Order online

Ordering information

Literature Connections

ISBN: Grade Level Format Price
0-924886-51-X K—6 5 Activities,
92 pages

Lawrence Hall of Science    © 2004 UC Regents. All rights reserved.    Contact GEMS    Updated June 20, 2020