I have discussed on several occasions about having living centers in the classroom (read more here.) This year I found the best terrarium ever so I felt I needed to share it as well! It is made by National Geographic and already has been a major hit in the classroom (you can find it here.) I know it seems expensive but after four years of using about every type of enclosure out there I can say this one is worth the money (I purchased the 30″x12″x12″ size.) The light is separate but any LED aquarium light will work. I love the dimensions of this terrarium because it allows me to place it on a table and still leave room for the kids to work. Most enclosures this long are also very wide and tall and take up too much space. I found this one to be perfect. To set up any terrarium I suggest putting a thin layer of pebbles as a base and then at least 2-3 inches of potting soil. I also add a heating mat on each terrarium, typically I stick it on the back side like in the picture above. Add a few rocks and twigs or old wood and you are set. We keep just about everything we catch in the terrarium. This year it has mealworms, crickets, beetles, snails, roly polies, grub worms, a small gecko, a small frog, and a caterpillar. The easiest thing to start with are mealworms, snails, and crickets. Crickets and snails are the best in my opinion because they are always moving and give you plenty to watch. This year the first day of school we went outside and caught a bunch of bugs for the terrariums (we have three in the room.) The kids learn so much from watching these living centers. Feeding the creatures is easy, they all love fish food. I of course add various fruits and vegetables so that we can watch them decompose. These are easy to find in the lunchroom, the kids waste so much food! There is also a fake turtle in the terrarium. The kids are still trying to figure out if it is living or not. Most of them think it is fake but I move it each day so they aren’t quite sure. I do this on purpose so they can learn the correct science words of living vs non-living. Right now they all ask if it is real and I simply respond “it is really there.” Won’t be long until they figure it out!
Listening center at one of the terrarium tables.
Look at what we all caught the first day of school!
This is a mealworm and the beetle it changes into after a few months.
We even had a praying mantis for a few days. I was worried it wouldn’t survive so we let it go after two days.