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Let's Make a Mold Terrarium!

This was a new activity for me, and I have to say, my students really enjoyed it!  I wanted to do something different this year as I neared the point in my course where I teach the fungi.  So I decided to have my students build a mold terrarium.  I wasn't exactly sure how the idea would go over with my students, but I decided to give it a go anyway.  MY STUDENTS LOVED IT!  

No fancy materials are required.  You only need a glass jar, some water, and some left over foods.  In order to get some good pictures for this blog post, I used a large plastic tray that had a clear lid on it.  And I used quite a few foods as a test to see which would be good suggestions to the students for which foods they should choose for their terrarium.  

From start to finish, I would allow at least 12 days.  Nothing much happens at first, but when the molds start to grow....  WOWEE!...they really take off.

Enjoy these pictures!!

Day 1:  Set Up Day!  These are still good enough to eat!

Day 3:  The cucumber was the first to go!
Day 4:  The cheese is getting a bit "iffy".

Day 11:  Very nice, huh??
Day 11:  Wow!  What a hairy monster!  
And there are several different kinds of mold visible.
Believe it or not, the smell was not too bad.  The only time I really noticed the smell was when I removed the lid to take these cool pictures.  TIP:  Do not use any foods that have eggs, meat or fish!  YUK!

I also prepared (IMHO) a pretty good set of handouts to go along with this activity.  One of my students commented, "Why can't we ever do anything just for fun?"  The handouts included a procedure page, a pre-lab sheet where I asked the kids to make predictions about which food would mold first, etc, a data table for recording daily observations, and 2 pages of final observation and analysis questions.

I created two different versions of the activity, one for high school students and one for upper elementary/middle school students.
Click picture to see the high school version
in my store on

Happy Teaching!


  1. Being an English Teacher...I have to say GROSS, yet CREATIVE! :)
    Ann Marie

  2. Haha Ann Marie! Biology is always great fun!!