We gathered around to begin our first outside project of the year. Everyone moved in close and appeared smaller with the grey skies and wet chill in the air. The scenery seemed so still and blank what could we possibly grow? Just the word terrarium stirred fascination and wide eyed stares so that our one day lesson was spread out in a week long project! The children started with questions.
"What does Terrarium mean?" asked TUS.
"How does it work?" asked DC.
"What does moss eat?" asked AK.
"How does moss grow?" asked LC.
So many things to learn! We excitedly began our ambitious endeavor by quickly discussing how we were going to grow moss. It seemed like ages ago when we last had our hands dirty growing plants and we quickly learned how much we missed it. The gardening groups had given us some much pride and ownership in our learning as well as beautifying our school. Now we would explore the wonders of winter vegetation. Gathering in front of our school we quickly examined our tools; ordinary kitchen spoons and baskets? I showed a example of a moss clump in front of us and how we would scoop it out while carefully keeping an inch of soil as a base underneath. We set off in pairs and scoured the whole front and back yards for moss. The mission was a success filling our baskets wish the two varieties of our local moss!
The next phase we sat in circle and discussed what we would fill our jars. What is in the ground? Lots of ideas came up.
"Earth worms" said AK.
"Lava" said EF.
"Bugs" said SC.
"Roots" said CE.
"Dirt" said TUS.
"Bones" said DC.
"Rocks" said AS.
Wow we going to use four ingredients today and you almost named them all. We are going to use dirt or soil, small rocks or pebbles, moss and something that we burn in bbqs. Does anyone know what it is? It comes from a wood fire. No one had a guess so we discussed charcoal and its uses. It can clean water, we can draw or write with it and we can cook with it as well. Next we ventured outside to begin our assembly line and make our own terrariums.
The children grabbed 3 mats and we set up stations for each ingredient. We split into groups of three and I handed out jars with lids. We put bowls, funnels and spoons at each station and filled them with the dirt, pebbles and charcoal. Then we began and rotated in our groups to each station beginning with the pebbles and ending with the soil. It was tough to not overfill our jars as it became a bit of a race for some but everyone took to the work with the utmost attention and care.
Is this enough room for the moss? everyone asked. Then excitedly pick a moss clump and gently set it on top. At least we got to water and we sealed our jars. How satisfying it is to create with the earth.
Part of the joy of gardening is the patience and care-taking it teaches us. From the smallest act of putting one seed in the ground to the largest gardening is a teacher and connects us to nature and the interconnected world around us.