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Do you remember when we built terraria? This time, we'll
work together and build one large terrarium for the
classroom. We will grow ferns and mosses, which we have
already studied. After you learn how, perhaps you can build
one for your home. A terrarium is a nice gift for Mother's

We'll use an empty aquarium (or a large bowl specially made
to be a terrarium.) First, after making sure the inside of
the terrarium is clean, we'll put an inch of gravel (like the
kind used in fish tanks) on the bottom. That will keep the
soil from being soggy.

On top of the gravel, we'll put sand that is one-half inch
deep; two or three inches of potting soil will go on top of
the sand. The potting soil will not be flat, because we will
make a small hill on one side, like a terrace, or, if we make
a hill that is flat on top, and slopes all around, it would
be a mesa. We could even make a small hill on one side, then
a valley, then, on the other side, we could make a taller
hill. The hills can't be too tall, because some of the
plants will grow on top of the hills. Find some pretty
rocks, wash them, and we can arrange them on top of the soil
in the terrarium.

In another project, we grew ferns on the outside of a clay
pot. We will plant some of those ferns in our terrarium, by
gently breaking off a piece of that pot with the ferns on it,
and just lay it on top of the soil in the terrarium. If we
like, we can buy some different kinds of baby ferns at the
garden store, and plant those in the terrarium, also. [When
you buy plants at the store, they come in little pots. It is
important to take the pots off the soil inside, holding the
plant upside down, and put all of that soil into the new pot
or the terrarium, in a hole you have made with a gardening
spoon, or your hand.]

Now, we'll get some of the moss we had transplanted, or we
can buy some moss at the garden store (two or three different
kinds would be nice), and plant those in the terrarium. We
want to arrange the plants nicely, not too close together,
and in such a way that the terrarium looks like a tiny place
in the forest. We want to press the soil down firmly around
the plants so they are not going to slide down the hill.

The terrarium shouldn't be in a bright, sunny place. We'll
take it to a window that does not get direct sunlight, or to
a table or counter top away from the windows. Also, it
should not be near the heater or furnace duct. We want to
move it before we put in the water, because the water will
make it heavy, and also, it might slosh around while it is
being carried.

Gently pour in the water, into the low place where there is
no soil, or just a little soil on top of the gravel. It
might be a good idea to put one or three rocks there so that
when we pour in the water, it won't make a ditch.

This terrarium will be covered with a sheet of glass, or a
lid specially made to fit. The cover will allow light to get
into the terrarium, will let us see into it from the top, and
will keep the soil from getting too dry. The inside of our
terrarium will be warm and wet, which is called "humid." That
is how it feels in a rain forest, and that is how rain
forests have such big, pretty ferns. Sometimes we will lift
the lid and touch the soil to make sure it is not dry. If it
is dry, we can put more water in the low place.

If we put too much water, mold will grow inside, so we want
to be careful about that. If we see mold, or it just seems
too wet in there, we can leave the cover off for a few days
to let some of the water evaporate. Also, we can sprinkle in
a little powdered sulphur, or add a few lumps of charcoal
(the kind that is used in fish-tank filters), and that will
help keep mold from growing.

We should mark the calendar on the day we plant the
terrarium, and also mark it when we add water, if we leave
off the cover, or anything else we do to maintain it. We can
also keep track of the growth of our plants. Sometimes,
plants don't like their new places, and they don't grow. If
that happens, we just remove them and put in some different
ones. That information should also go on the calendar.

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