Lesson plan

Crystals and crystal structure

Watch crystals grow on a crystal painting, then study crystal structure and formation
Science content
Chemistry: Atoms, Molecules (3-7)
Chemistry: Physical Changes, Solutions, Mixtures and Separating (2, 4, 5, 6)
Chemistry: Crystals (7)
Earth/Space: Rock cycle, Earth Materials, Natural resources (5)

Discuss what crystals students are familiar with.
Include in discussion that crystals are a solid, with a regular shape.
This lesson will show how crystals form and why their shapes are so regular.

With older students, discuss how the regular arrangement of atoms in a crystal define its shape. Show diamond molecular model. See repeating arrangement of atoms. The atoms line up to form flat faces. The arrangement of atoms determines what the outside shape of the crystal is.

The whole class can do epsom salt crystal paintings (younger students can make a snow scene).
Optional: set up borax crystals.

Divide into groups to move through other activities as stations:
Crystal shapes from building blocks (can be several stations or one station)
Crystal shapes with magnifiers/microscope
Mirror symmetry patterns
Granite study

Show snowflake crystals growing here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bDPczGUovzE or on the Resource website.


McBride did this subset of activities: Growing borax crystals, Crystal shapes with magnifiers/microscope, Mirror symmetry patterns, Epsom salt crystal painting.
Tyee did all activities except borax crystals.
Weir 2/3s did epsom salt painting as a class. Then students freely moved between crystal building block stations, while small groups were pulled out to look at crystal shapes under microscopes.
Seymour 5/6/7s did epsom salt painting as a class, then crystals under a microscope and mirror symmetry.

Grades taught
Gr K
Gr 1
Gr 2
Gr 3
Gr 4
Gr 5
Gr 6
Gr 7