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School-age: For children 5-12 years old

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Dial A Story / Telecuentos

For over 20 years the children of San Antonio have been calling in to Dial-A-Story to hear a children's story.  The children's librarians record new stories every Monday and Thursday, one in English and one in Spanish. 

Just call 210.207.4466 to listen!

STEAM at Home

Grow Your Own Crystals

with Miss Jackie


Do you like crystals? Are you fascinated at all the different kinds one can find in the world? Then this DIY is for you! Creating your very own rock crystals from home is a project the whole family can enjoy.

This project is simple and inexpensive. Most items can be found at home or at your local grocery store.


To start, you will need a cup and/or jar, hot water, Epsom salt, measuring cup, and a spoon to stir.  

NOTE: Epsom salt can usually be found at your pharmacy, or in the health/wellness area of your grocery store. 


Optional supplies:

A pencil, string, something to weigh the string down at the bottom like a paper clip, and food coloring. Use what you have that is similar. Recycle an old pickle jar or the like. Use a small stick in the place of a pencil. Don’t have a paper clip? Use a bobby pin. These are optional supplies.



NOTE: You will use 1 part hot water and 1 part Epsom salt.

Step 1

Measure ¼ cup Epsom salt and pour into cup or jar.

Step 2

Measure ¼ a cup of hot water and pour into cup with Epsom salt already there.

Note: Water needs to be hot. Adult supervision is highly recommended. You may us very hot tap water, bowl water, or warm water up in microwave for about 45 seconds. No matter which option be careful and be sure to have a good space when working.

Step 3

Stir for 1-2 minutes.

Note: This is when you may add food coloring. Usually about 4 drops is a good amount. The more drops, the darker the color.

Step 4

Once done, add a pebble, or paper clip. I read online that this is because the crystals want something to attach too; however, with my trial and errors, I still got good results without this. See what works best for you.

I used what I had at home. I had paper clips and beads from a broken bracelet. I used them to help put things in my cups to see if this would yield more crystals.

Step 5

Place in refrigerator overnight.

Step 6

Wake up and pour out any excess water. You should have some crystals.

Photos from my Trials:


Next day! Of all the ones I did, only 2 gave the best crystals.



Pictures of crystals once I poured out the excess water.



Photo of other cups. I had crystals in all the cups. Some were just at the bottom. Some crystals were also more fragile than others.

Overall, I found this experiment to be fun, educational, and inexpensive. What I learned was that it made no difference if I had a string attached to a pencil within my cup. The crystals grew regardless. I thought adding fun objects I had would help create large crystals, and I did not get that. Some of my trials yielded more crystals than others, and I think this factored into not using hot enough water and not stirring long enough. Please keep this in mind when doing this.

I encourage everyone to have fun with the project. Try and see what you can grow by adding things into your cup. Does hot tap water work better than hot water heated on the stove? Do more crystals grow for you with adding a string or pipe cleaner? If you add pebbles from outside, do you yield more crystals? Trial and error is always the best way to discovery. Have fun!


For further reading on crystals and fun experiments:

Building a Bug with Shapes

What you will need:

  • construction paper
  • glue
  • scissors

Cut out your bug pieces from construction paper in a variety of colors. You'll need small dots for eyes, spots, and antennae tops (these can be made with a hole punch). You'll need circles and semi-circles of different sizes for heads and bodies. Finally, you'll need skinny strips for legs, antennae, and mouths.

What kind of bugs can you make with your shapes?


Check out some of these books on bugs and shapes!


Chain reactions are a series of events in which each event causes the next one.  Watch Miss Teague talk a little bit about chain reactions and show some examples of how chain reactions work.  If you'd like to learn more about this topic, check out the videos and information below!  



This is a really cool chain reaction!  Notice how there are many items used, not just dominos!



Rube Goldberg Machines are a really cool example of how chain reactions work!

Check out the link above to learn more about Rube Goldberg Machines and then go below to watch videos or check out a book to see how they work! 

 This really cool app lets you make a Rube Goldberg machine on your phone or tablet!

Make your own boat out of Lego bricks, foil, paper, or anything else you can find. How many pennies can it hold before it capsizes?

If you would like to do your own chromatography experiment, you'll need:

Coffee filters

A few different black markers

A glass of water

If you want to try your own chemical reaction, gather these items:

flat pan or tray

baking soda


a dropper or spoon

food coloring (optional)

towel to clean up any messes you make