Several of the FIAR books we have chosen for this time of year have to do with cold and snow. That was on purpose. We don’t get much snow around here, though we have gotten a lot of cold this year. So, we are living vicariously through the books.
We have looked at snow crystals in the past and have studied them in a couple of different ways. But it is hard to see how crystals form, how they grow out of one another to make their larger structure. So, we tried crystal painting.
To do this, all you need is black construction paper, boiling water, and Epsom salt. Your ratio of water to salt is 1:1. I used 1 tablespoon of salt in a small container that wouldn’t tip and wouldn’t melt with boiling water. I put in 1 tablespoon of boiling water and stirred. Once all of the salt is dissolved, you have a super-saturated solution and you are ready to paint. (We reviewed all of this information since the girls did some science activities last year that involved super-saturated solutions.).
Using a paint brush (the wider, the better), paint on the black paper. You want it to be somewhat “thick” because the crystals form in the water as it cools and dries, the salt coming back out of the solution. After you have painted your picture, just let it dry and watch it, as it changes a lot during the drying process.
After they are dry, if you painted it with enough salt dissolved in the water and left it thick enough on the paper, you’ll see some really neat crystal formations on the paper. We had a few that we could see the crystal growth from one to another. It was a fun project that was super simple but taught a lot about crystals. We then applied that to the formation of snow. And that tied into our books.