Tag Archives: learning

DIY Crystal Ornaments/Experiment

 Hi, everyone! Today I’m here to share an easy Christmas craft with you- DIY crystal ornaments. These are perfect to hang in a window, on your own tree, or to give as gifts! It’s not just limited to Christmas, you can make hearts for Valentine’s, clovers for St. Patty’s, your imagination is the limit. And the best part? You probably have all the materials around your house! At the end of the post we’ll give you some suggestions for turning this fun DIY into a science experiment you can do at home! 

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 Wait? a sec! Hang that dainty thing on the tree?! With my rambunctious kids/cats/in-laws/etc? These pretty ornaments may look fragile but really, they’re pretty tough. With proper care they can last years, but if you want a little more insurance you can spray the completely dried ornament with clear acrylic (I didn’t).  Now that you’ve been reassured, let’s get to it!

 First, gather your materials:

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  • Borax- 1 c + 2 Tbsp  
  • Very hot (nearly boiling) water- 8 c
  • Pipe Cleaners
  • Wire Cutters (for trimming the pipe cleaners)
  • String
  • Pencils or dowels (to suspend the ornaments)
  • Containers (make sure you use ones that can withstand the hot water & are large enough that the ornaments will not touch the sides or bottom)
  • Food coloring (optional)
  • Additional string, ornament hooks, or ribbons (for hanging your final product)

Step 2- Start by shaping your pipe cleaners. Snowflakes, stockings, hearts, stars, candy canes- let your imagination run wild! Now is a good time to check that once suspended in the Borax solution (see step #4) they won’t be touching the sides/bottom of the container (or each other). 

Step 3- Using the string, tie your ornament to the middle of your pencil. If your ornaments are small enough you can place multiple along one pencil. Don’t worry if your string isn’t pretty, it’s best to cut them off and replace it with fresh string, wire hooks, or ribbon later, as the submerged parts of the string will crystallize, too. 

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Step 4- Add your borax to very hot water & stir until dissolved. The water should be a bit cloudy. Now is the time to add food coloring, if desired (we didn’t). Carefully fill your container. You need enough water to fully cover your ornaments. (Not enough solution? Simply mix 9 Tbsp borax to every 4 c hot water.) 

Step 5- Suspend your ornaments in the solution. Make sure they are not touching the side of the container or each other, and are completely submerged. Leave to sit undisturbed anywhere from 8-24 hours! The longer you soak them, the bigger your crystals will be! 

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Step 6- Once you’re pleased with your crystal growth, remove your ornaments from the solution and lay them flat on a paper towel to dry. My mom dumps our leftover liquid in the toilet to clean the bowl 🤨 but you can dispose of it however you prefer. Don’t worry about the crystals in your container, they come off easily with a soak in hot water. 

Step 7-  Once your ornaments are completely dry you can cut off the strings you used to suspend them in the solution, and replace with the ribbon, wire, or string of your choosing. Hang your beautiful new ornaments and enjoy watching them glisten and glitter in the light! Aren’t they gorgeous?! 

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Can you tell which were soaking for the longest? I wish we could have captured how glittery they look! 

 

Now for the science-y stuff:

  • Investigate WHY Borax crystallizes on the pipe cleaners
  • Try increasing/decreasing the amount of Borax
  • Vary the water temperature. Do the crystals grow better in cold, lukewarm, or hot water?
  • Use materials other than pipe cleaners- strips of cloth, pinecones, an egg shell, etc.
  • Vary the soaking times- 4 hrs, 8 hrs, 12 hrs, 24 hrs, 48 hrs. Note the differences.

 

Show us what you made! Upload your ornaments on IG and tag us @_Jackandthebean_

 

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Pumpkin Fun

Today we carved our pumpkin! Like all homeschoolers, we believe every moment is a learning opportunity, so you know we didn’t just carve a jack o’lantern and leave it at that. We turned it into it a full on investigation!

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We put on our costumes, measured & weighed our pumpkin (before and after carving!), discovered whether pumpkins float or sink (and why), explored the parts of a pumpkin, designed and carved a spooky face (okay, Dad carved it), baked a yummy snack from the seeds, and even learned about the life cycle of pumpkins. It was a ton of fun and super easy for Mom to set up! Would you believe that Bean was only a pound off from her estimate of the weight and Jack was very close on his guess of the circumference?

Do you roast pumpkin seeds when you carve your jack o’lanterns? You should! It’s easy and delicious! You can make them sweet, salty, or spicy! Below we’re sharing a basic salty recipe, but have fun! Garlic parmesan, cinnamon and sugar, chili lime- the possibilities are endless. Mmmm, crispy goodness.

Roasted Pumpkin Seeds

While carving your pumpkin save the innards! You’ll need to separate the seeds from the strings (fun in an ooey gooey kind of way!) and rinse them with cold water. Pat dry with a paper towel or flour sack kitchen towel.

  • Pumpkin Seeds, cleaned
  • 2 Tbsp Butter, melted (or olive oil)
  •  1 tsp Sea Salt  (or seasoning of choice)
  1. Heat oven to 300 degrees
  2. Toss seeds with butter & seasoning
  3. Spread in single layer on cookie sheet
  4. Bake for 30 minutes or until golden brown, stirring every 10 minutes
  5. Let cool completely and ENJOY!

 

We’d love to hear from you! Tell us your favorite fall learning activities in the comments below!

 

Tomorrow we visit the spooky House of Mystery, located in the Oregon Vortex. We’ll also stop by the neighboring cemetery, said to be haunted! Stay tuned to see  what mysteries we uncover and whether we encounter any ghosts!