This activity was developed and tested with preschool and kindergarten educators as part of Science World's Big Science For Little Hands program.
wide-mouth heat-resistant container (e.g. jar)
white pipe cleaners
hot water from a recently boiled kettle (with adult help)
Epsom salts (available at drugstores)
What To Do:
CAUTION! HOT! Mix Epsom salts into hot water one spoonful at a time. Stir until dissolved (keep adding until there is powder settling on the bottom of the jar that won't dissolve).
Bend a pipe cleaner into a star, heart or any other shape you like. (To make a snowflake, cut the pipe cleaner into thirds. Twist the pieces together in the centre so that you have a six-sided star shape. Wrap string around the outer edges to form a snowflake pattern.)
Set the pencil across the mouth of the jar with the pipe cleaner shape suspended and hanging inside.
Wait overnight. By morning, the pipe cleaner shape will be covered with shiny crystals. Hang in a window as a sun-catcher or use as a wintertime decoration.
Note: Patience is a virtue! The crystals do require at least a few hours, if not overnight, to take shape.