Lesson plan

Crystals and freezing

Make a crystal ornament with borax, a crystal painting with epsom salts, and ice cream. All activities are making solids, by making solid crystals from a liquid or freezing a liquid into a solid.
Science content
Chemistry: States of Matter, Properties of Materials (K-7)
Chemistry: Atoms, Molecules (3-7)
Chemistry: Physical Changes, Solutions, Mixtures and Separating (2, 4, 5, 6)
Chemistry: Crystals (7)

If there is snow outside, or it is the winter season, the lesson can be started with discussion and images of snow crystals (see resources). Even better get outside and catch snowflakes on a glove and look for the points on the individual crystals.

Snow is a solid that forms a crystal. Crystals are solids with a regular shape.
Frost shapes on windows are also crystals.
Show an icicle or ice cube - also frozen water, but that formed too fast for large visible single crystals to grow.

Grow crystals made from other materials, and look at their regular shapes:
Borax crystal ornament activity.
Epsom salt crystal painting activity.

Grow ice crystals by cooling water until it freezes, to make a snack:
Make ice cream.
The ice crystals are tiny in ice cream.


Way too many concepts in one lesson for lower elementary grades.

Suggestion: skip the ice cream, and add looking at sugar/salt crystals under magnifiers.

Grades taught
Gr K