Crystal Names – Kids’ Science Experiment

This easy-peasy, low-cost kids’ science experiment uses borax to grow crystal names. All kiddos will love seeing their name shimmer and sparkle in the sunlight!

Crystal names are one of our favorite science experiments EVER.

Follow the simple step-by-step below and then grab 30 more easy-to-follow science experiments kids will beg to repeat (plus a no prep science journal to keep track of their results!) in our shop!

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 Crystal 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.  She felt like a real scientist in this kids’ science experiment!

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 of the kids’ science experiment – 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 coloring 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.  This kids’ science experiment was fun because it was so personal!

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.

More Kids’ Science Experiments

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111 Comments

  1. Andrea

    Thanks so much for this fun idea! What kind of food coloring did you use? Our food coloring darkened the water, but we still got clear crystals.

    Reply
    • Ashley

      Hi Andrea,
      We just used a good amount of regular food coloring. However, in some cases we also used colored pipe cleaners, which made the colors appear darker as well.
      Warmly,
      Ashley // Happiness Ambassador

      Reply
  2. Avery

    These are so cool!

    Reply
    • Ashley

      So glad you enjoyed them, Avery!
      Warmly,
      Ashley // Happiness Ambassador

      Reply
  3. Bel

    What can we use instead of borax?

    Reply
    • Ashley

      Hi Bel,
      Sorry, but you need Borax for the experiment to work well.
      I don’t know of a comparable substitute.
      Warmly,
      Ashley // Happiness Ambassador

      Reply
      • Aaron

        Sugar or salt will also crystalize, but they may take longer

        Reply
        • Ashley

          Thanks for the tip, Aaron!
          Warmly,
          Ashley // Happiness Ambassador

          Reply
  4. Alexis

    Hello, thanks for this cool idea! I was wondering if you have any suggestions for containers that can be used in a classroom setting of about 25 students? This would be for an after school program so they would need to be a container students can take home or would be suitable for storing in supply area (out of the daytime teacher’s way) so students can retrieve their names the following day. Thank you!

    Reply
    • Ashley

      Hi Alexis,
      You may want to look at canning jars.
      The lids could be put on top so the jars could be stacked (by an adult of course) and placed out of the way.
      Hope that helps!
      Warmly,
      Ashley // Happiness Ambassador

      Reply
    • Fran

      Suggest cutting quart milk cartons open, and using twigs or similar to tie thread to and suspend over the carton.

      Reply
      • Ashley

        Thank you for the suggestion, Fran.
        We’d love to hear how it works for you!
        Warmly,
        Ashley // Happiness Ambassador

        Reply
  5. Amy

    Do you know if premixed borax would work for this experiment?

    Reply
    • Ashley

      Hi Amy,
      We’ve never tried it with premixed borax, so I’m not sure if it would work.
      I’d suggest trying it on a small scale to see if it works before using it for an entire project.
      We’d love to hear how it turns out!
      Warmly,
      Ashley // Happiness Ambassador

      Reply
  6. DrMBoucher

    My 4th Graders had so much fun with this simple project! They were in awe how it crystallized to the pipe cleaners. We learned that if you don’t follow the directions precise, the crystals will not form. We also learned to NOT put as many letters into a cup as you can. They will only crystallize together. As a note for others, the ORANGE came out the BEST. I wanted to attach photos of our results, but did not know how to attach.

    Reply
    • Ashley

      Thank you so much for sharing, Melissa!
      Love the tips you shared!
      We don’t have the option of sharing photos in the comments, but we’d love it if you shared a photo on Facebook or Instagram and tagged us!
      Thanks again!
      Warmly,
      Ashley // Happiness Ambassador

      Reply

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

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Hi, I’m Malia.

I LOVE helping Pre-K, Kindergarten and First Grade teachers save time, stay inspired and give EVERY student bigger results. I’m so glad you’re here!