Kindergarten Teacher

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Classroom Terrarium: Insects, Gastropods and Crustaceans ! Oh My!

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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.

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Look at what we all caught the first day of school!

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This is a mealworm and the beetle it changes into after a few months.

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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.

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3 Responses to Classroom Terrarium: Insects, Gastropods and Crustaceans ! Oh My!

  1. Sue says:

    I love your blog. I wish I had time to read everything! This caught my eye as I have 1 terrarium this year, but it’s just your basic starter type. I have 1 leopard gecko and I feed it mealworms. Is your gecko a regular one from the pet store? I have it with that special sand they sell you at the pet store. Can I just plant a live terrarium and it can live with the soil and a bunch of other bugs? That is such a dumb question I know but I’m new to this whole thing! I need to read more about what I can do with this with my kinders

  2. Love this post! We have a terrarium too. You gave me a couple of ideas…thanks!

  3. I really like this post! It is something i wish to have in my classroom when I start teaching. I really think it will give the kids something to do in their spare time. It will also motivate them to be active in learning. Great blog post. Thanks

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