Inspiration > Kids

World in a Bottle

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World in a Bottle - Feature

You may have heard of a ship in a bottle, but have you ever seen a world in a bottle? This bottle terrarium project is a great way to teach your kids about the fragility and importance of our planet’s ecosystem. Just like the Earth, a terrarium is a self-supporting biosphere with all the basic requirements for life: air, light, water, and even food. And just like for our planet, you and your kids will need to take a few steps to ensure its survival. The result: a beautiful world that you and your family have created with supplies from the local lawn and garden shop!

You Will Need:

  • Empty 2-liter bottle
  • Marker
  • Ruler
  • Scissors
  • Small stones or gravel
  • Activated charcoal
  • Peat moss, Spanish moss, or a piece of screen or cheesecloth
  • Potting soil
  • Seeds and/or small plants
  • Tape (optional)

How to Assemble Your Little World

1. Rinse the inside of the bottle with water and remove the label. Make sure the cap is secured tightly.

2. Draw a line around the bottle about 6 inches from the bottom.

3. Cut along the line.

4. Place 1 to 2 inches of gravel in the base of the bottle. The stones help extra water drain to the bottom of the bottle, keeping the soil from becoming too muddy and overwatering the plants.

World in a Bottle - Image 1


5. Sprinkle a small amount of charcoal over the stones. This purifies the water and helps keep the terrarium clean.

World in a Bottle - Image 2


6. Place the moss, screen, or cheesecloth over the charcoal. This will keep the soil from running under the gravel with the water.

World in a Bottle - Image 3


7. Cover the moss with enough soil so that the top layer ends 1 inch below the top of the base. The nutrients in potting soil help plants grow big and strong.


8. Now for the fun part: planting your seeds and plants. Sketch how you want your plants to look or arrange them outside of the terrarium first. Make small holes in the dirt and place your plants and/or seeds in them. Cover them loosely with soil.

World in a Bottle - Image 4


9. Water the soil. It should be moist but not soaked. This is the only time you’ll water the plants—that’s why it’s self-supporting!

10. Replace the top of the bottle. The top should fit over the bottom with a slight overlap. You can also tape the top and bottom together.


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