Lesson plan

Crystals and crystal structure

Watch crystals grow on a crystal painting, then study crystal 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 rotate through other activities as stations with age appropriate explanations (or do as a class, but more materials are needed):
Crystal shapes from building blocks,
Crystal shapes with magnifiers/microscope,
Mirror symmetry patterns,
Granite study.


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.

Grades taught
Gr K
Gr 1
Gr 4
Gr 5
Gr 6
Gr 7
Teaching Site
McBride Elementary
Tyee Elementary