Crystals are defined as solids with their atoms, molecules, or ions arranged in regular patterns.
These patterns are classified into six basic shapes depending on the number of faces, or flat surfaces, that meet forming certain angles at their points of intersection.
The six crystal systems are the cubic, hexagonal, orthorhombic, monoclinic, tetragonal, and triclinic.
If more information is needed about crystal systems, it can be found in most physical science textbooks.
Most solids are crystalline to some degree which means they are made up of crystals. This means we should introduce students to crystals and allow their curiosity to aid in the understanding of some basic principles on crystals.
Due to the complexity of the study of crystals for this age group, it might be best to have the child grow some crystals and observe their behavior.
Beg, borrow, or buy “CRYSTALS—A HANDBOOK: FOR SCHOOL TEACHERS” by Elizabeth Wood for these activities.
Start out by growing salt crystals as explained in the text. After completing this exercise, depending on the interest, facilities, and materials available you might have different groups of students grow different crystals and share their experiences.
I would suggest that crystals of alum and epsom salts be grown for additional activities as alum is not hard to obtain and these crystals are easier to grow then the salt crystal while the epsom salt will allow the student to see crystals growing as long needles instead of the shapes produced by sodium chloride and alum.
Upon completion of these exercises, I would have the students exhibit their work with a written explanation on how each was grown and tell of the difficulties they encountered, if any, and how they overcame them.
I would also have them write a critique about their experience with the growing of crystals for my benefit in planning future classes.