Learning Experience 9: Terrariums



For each pair of students:

2 Student Activity Sheets for Learning Experience 9

Big Mac container with 15 cm. square top layer of study plot

Hand trowel

For each group of four students:


Soil thermometer

For the class:

Scotch tape*

*provided by teacher


Read the background information in the Teacher’s Manual. (Please see PDF)

Basic Skills Development:




Evaluation Strategy:

Students will gather data on temperature, plants, animals, and transients for the section of the study plot that they removed in Learning Experience #8 and describe the behaviors of the new living thing introduced in the artificial environment.






Objective: Students will transfer a part of their study plot to an artificial environment and observe the change in behaviors of living and nonliving things.

How does confining a small portion of your study plot to a terrarium change your observations?

Session 1

Before students looked underneath the surface of their study plot, they placed the top layer they removed in a terrarium that was set aside.

Discussion Questions:

How will confining a small portion of your study plot to a terrarium change your observations? Predict.

Why do you think these changes will occur?

Students are to now closely look at the section of their plot that was put in the terrarium. Compare the Student Activity Sheet for Learning Experience 9.

The following information will be provided:



Temperature of soil:

Temperature of air:

Plants present:

Animals present:

Session 2

Students will now introduce a new living thing to their terrariums. Discuss with students what kinds of living things would be appropriate (i.e. grasshoppers, ants, grass, flower w/roots). It would be helpful if students have observed their living thing in its natural environment first. Students will then be able to identify how/when it is acting differently. The size of the living things is important. Also, discuss the needs of the living things that could be placed in the terrariums.

Students may choose living things from other areas of the schoolyard, or they may bring living things from home. If so, discuss safe ways to bring living things to school (i.e. plastic bags, plastic containers, paper bags). Students are to then complete their Student Activity Sheet.

Discussion Questions:

Could you find your new living thing?

Where was it?

What was it doing?

How would you describe its actions in its new environment?

Is the terrarium environment providing what it needs to survive? How do you know? How could you find out?

STUDENT ACTIVITY SHEET for Learning Experience 9



After carefully observing your terrarium, supply the following information.

Date: __________________

Time: __________________

Study Plot LocationObservations
Weather Conditions 
Temperature of Air_____ C
Temperature of Soil_____ C
Plants Present 
Animals Present 
Any Transients 

Can you find your new living thing in the terrarium? Look carefully.

Where did you find it?



Draw a picture of the new living thing in its new environment.

Describe its actions below. Make note of any unusual behaviors.


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