Crystal Names

Jan 9, 2015

Activity for ages 3 and up.

This easy-peasy, low cost science experiment uses borax to grow crystal names. Whether your child is 3 or 103, they’re sure to get excited about seeing their name shimmer and sparkle in the sunlight. Crystal names are one of our favorite kids’ science experiments yet.

P.S. Looking for some easy ways to add super cool, hands-on science to your classroom or home? Hop over and grab our super cool science kit!

Super awesome science for kids! Make crystal names in jar. {Playdough to Plato}

Even though my 5 year old can easily write her name, she never tires of seeing it, especially when it sparkles and glistens.  We decided to use the same technique used to make crystal snowflakes using borax, a common household laundry product, to make crystal names.  The results were gorgeous and soon everyone in the family wanted their names in crystal too.

Uber cool! Make crystal names.

Getting Ready

To prep for this science activity, I gathered a few supplies:

  • Pipe cleaners
  • Fishing line {twine or yarn will work too}
  • Pencils or wooden skewers
  • Scissors
  • Glasses or plastic container {one for each color}
  • A container large enough to hold your name {if doing your name as a single piece written in cursive}
  • Borax
  • Food Coloring {optional, if you want colored letters you can dye the borax solution or use colored pipe cleaners}
  • Liquid measuring cup
  • Tablespoon
  • Heat Safe Mixing Bowl

Shaping the Names

Once I gathered all my supplies I called my daughter, A, over and explained that we were going to make the letters of her name and then grow crystals on them. I had her take white pipe cleaners and use them to form the letters of her name. I showed her the plastic container we were going to use to suspend the pipe cleaner letter in and explained that the letter had to fit in the container without touching any sides.

Super awesome name activity for kids. Make crystal names!!

I wanted A to work on noticing what lines and curves made up each individual letter so I intentionally had her form the letters one by one. Older children could connect a few pipe cleaners to form their name in cursive, making this activity even easier.

Once formed we used fishing line to suspend each letter a few inches from wooden skewers.

Crystal Names

Making the Solution

While A finished making her letters I began heating a large pot of water.  I knew my 5 year old would want to do the measuring and mixing so I made sure the water was as hot as possible to help dissolve the borax quickly, without being hot enough to scald her.  A decided she wanted to make each letter a different color so I set out 5 quart sized plastic containers and had A measure out 3 tablespoons of borax per cup of hot water {we used 9 tablespoons per container}.  DSC_0645

Once all the borax was measured I poured 3 cups of almost boiling water into each of the 5 containers.  A, armed with a long wooden spoon, mixed each container until the borax dissolved.  Next, she added several drops of food coloring to every container and carefully lowered each letter into the color of choice.

DSC_0687

Waiting for the Crystals

Next came the hardest part, waiting!  I put the containers on a shelf and let them sit overnight where they wouldn’t be disturbed by curious hands.  After a couple hours, we saw some changes – mostly crystals forming on the sides of the container and also settling onto the bottom.  It was difficult to see what was happening to the pipe cleaners through the dark food color solution.

Brilliant! Make crystal letters in a jar. Such a fun way to help kids learn their name.

A and her little brother Q couldn’t wait to see how each of their names turned out and spent nearly an hour touching, arranging, and holding their letters up to the windows to see the crystals sparkle.

Once they were finished exploring their glistening letters, I carefully taped each child’s name up in a sunny window so they could be admired in all their sparkling glory.

Super cool science for kids! Make crystal names!!

The Science Behind It

When borax is dissolved in water a suspension is created.  A suspension is a mixture that has solid particles {the borax} that are large enough for sedimentation {settling out}. As the borax begins to settle, it starts to crystalize on all the surfaces it comes in contact with – including the pipe cleaner letters.  As the borax continues to settle out, it builds crystals on top of other borax crystals creating a thick layer.

P.S.

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87 Comments

  1. Fofoll4

    What measured amount should be mixed with borax? I do not find the indication … I tried but it did not crystallize, I guess my measurements are wrong.

    Reply
    • Ashley

      Hi,
      I’m sorry about that.
      We used 3 Tablespoons of Borax per cup of water. So if your container held 3 cups of water, you would need 9 tablespoons of Borax.
      Hope that helps.
      Warmly,
      Ashley // Happiness Ambassador

      Reply
    • Ashley

      You are very welcome!
      Warmly,
      Ashley // Happiness Ambassador

      Reply
  2. Terri

    What happens if my students return to observe their jars in 2 days? Is that too long to wait? I plan to use small canning jars – 8 oz each. Thanks for your feedback.

    Reply
    • Ashley

      Hi Terri,
      I’ve had it sit overnight, but I’ve never tried it two days later.
      You should be okay, but I’d love to hear your results.
      Warmly,
      Ashley // Happiness Ambassador

      Reply

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