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Learning Resource Type

Learning Activity

Plant Life in a Bottle

Subject Area





Students will create a classroom terrarium. Everything the plant needs (food, soil, and water) will be placed inside a plastic bottle and the bottle will be sealed. The students will place the bottle in the sunlight and watch the plants grow.

This activity results from the ALEX Resource Gap Project.

    Science (2015) Grade(s): KG


    Construct a model of a natural habitat (e.g., terrarium, ant farm, diorama) conducive to meeting the needs of plants and animals native to Alabama.

    Unpacked Content



    • Construct
    • Model
    • Natural
    • Habitat
    • Conducive
    • Needs
    • Plants
    • Animals
    • Native
    • Alabama


    Students know:
    • Needs of plants and animals native to Alabama.
    • How to construct a model of a natural habitat and can identify and describe the components of the model
    • Places where the different plants and animals live.
    • The relationship between where plants and animals live and the resources those places provide


    Students are able to:
    • Construct a model of interactions that occur in a natural habitat.
    • Use a model to represent and describe the relationships between the components.


    Students understand that:
    • Systems in the natural environments of Alabama have parts that work together and can be represented.

    Scientific and Engineering Practices

    Developing and Using Models

    Crosscutting Concepts

    Systems and System Models


    Learning Objectives

    Learning Objectives

    I can construct a model of a terrarium and include everything the plants need to grow.

    Activity Details

    This learning activity should be used after teaching a unit on plants or living things. The teacher will begin by reviewing the basic needs of a plant in order to survive: food, water, soil, sunlight, and space. Show the students the materials for building a terrarium: one 2-liter bottle, scissors, potting soil, gravel, small plants still containing their roots (can be found outside or bought), and water. Discuss if all the basic needs of a plant can be met with these materials. Students might point out that sunlight is missing and that the scissors are not needed. The teacher will build the terrarium or allow the students to build it. Make sure the class discusses how each basic need is met as the terrarium is being built. 

    1. Remove the label and cut the 2-liter bottle horizontally in two about 1/4 of the way up from the bottom.
    2. In the top portion, cut six vertical 1-inch slits spaced around the bottle.
    3. Pour gravel in the bottom of the bottle, just enough to cover the base.
    4. Take the plants and the soil and finish filling the bottom of the bottle.
    5. Water the soil and seal your plants by replacing the top portion of the bottle, fitting the slits over the base.
    6. Place the terrarium next to the window and observe it for several days or longer.
    Assessment Strategies

    Assessment Strategies

    The class discussion on the basic needs of plants and the building of the terrarium will assess if the students mastered the learning objective.

    Variation Tips

    The class can be split into groups and make several classroom terrariums if desired.

    Background and Preparation

    Background / Preparation

    The teacher will need to gather the following items per terrarium: one 2-liter bottle, scissors, potting soil, gravel, small plants still containing their roots (can be found outside or bought), and water.