This is just a fun activity for kids as it’s extremely simple, but helps to reinforce them as they learn their letters and learn to spell their own names. It’s also great because it teaches them patience! There are a few ways to approach this activity – and as always, the MORE you can encourage your child to participate in each step, the more memorable the experience is for them and the more fun it is for everyone.
This is a very inexpensive craft/experiment.
**Note that it takes several hours for the crystals to materialize, so you may want to time this project to where you let it sit overnight. Alternatively, you can do it in the morning and just go about your day and come back to it before dinner time.**
You will need the following:
- 16 oz Mason Jar (can substitute with similarly sized containers)
- 2 cups boiling water (adjust ratios as needed for the size of your container – children with longer names might need something larger to fit all of the letters)
- ½ cup borax
- Pipe Cleaners
- Scissors (to cut the pipe cleaners to size as needed)
Ok, so now the fun begins! If you have a pack of pipe cleaners that are multi-colored, let your child choose the colors they want to use.
- Determine if you want your letters to be separated or connected to one another; when we tried this we decided to connect them all together. If you decide you want it to be all one piece, just make sure when you’re shaping your letters you leave enough room to connect the letters to one another.
- Mix your borax into boiling water; make sure whatever ratios/amounts you use that you have enough for your letters to be fully submerged. Any portion that isn’t submerged won’t get any sparkly crystals!
- Tie some thread to your name/letters and then tie the other end to the middle of a pencil. Dip your pipe cleaners into the container – but BE SURE not to let it touch the bottom or sides or it will be really difficult for you to remove it once the crystals form. If your pencil is stubborn and won’t stay put, just simply tape it down. TIP: If you don’t want crystals forming on your thread make sure it is OUT of the water. You may want to keep the thread so you can hang your creation somewhere to catch light, or you can always cut the old thread and tie on a new one. *confession* the last time I did this with my daughter I got lazy and skipped the whole pencil/thread portion and just shoved it into the jar; my point – it’s possible to skip this step, but as I mentioned above, just be extra careful about having the pipe cleaners stick to the sides or bottom.
- Wait. Wait. Wait. If you don’t want your kids bugging you every 5 minutes about when the crystals are going to appear, make sure they are occupied (either sleeping while you wait for the crystals to form overnight) or other activities that might distract them throughout the day. The longer you wait, the more crystals will develop. I recommend a minimum of 5 hours, but you can definitely double that if you are that patient!
The science behind the project (if your kid is ready for this!):
Hot water holds more borax crystals than cold water. That's because heated water molecules move farther apart, making room for more of the borax crystals to dissolve. When no more of the solution can be dissolved, you have reached saturation. As this solution cools, the water molecules move closer together again. Now there’s less room for the solution to hold onto as much of the dissolved borax. Crystals begin to form and build on one another as the water lets go of the excess and evaporates. (Full Resource Here.)
Hope you enjoy!