Rock and Mineral Activities for Kids

Crystal Garden Activity

A crystal garden is fun to make!
A crystal garden is fun to make!
©2007 Publications International, Ltd.

Try this crystal garden activity -- no seeds or plants are needed! At one time, these were called "Depression gardens" because they were an inexpensive project for children during the Great Depression of the 1930s.

What You'll Need:

  • Chunks of coal, brick, flower pot pieces or pieces of unglazed porcelain
  • Old shallow bowls about six inches wide
  • Mixing bowl
  • Salt (not iodized)
  • Liquid bluing
  • Water
  • Ammonia
  • Ink or food coloring in several colors

Remember to be careful when working with any broken objects and when pouring ammonia. Have an adult supervise this project. Break coal, brick, clay flower pots or unglazed porcelain into chunks the size of walnuts.

Place several in an old dish, clustering them near the center. (Don't overcrowd the dish.) For each dish, mix four tablespoons of non-iodized salt, four tablespoons of liquid bluing, four tablespoons of water and one tablespoon of household ammonia.

Pour the mixture very slowly over the broken pieces in your dish. Drip food coloring on the pieces sticking up out of the solution. Set the bowl aside in a place it won't be disturbed. In a few hours you should see crystals "growing" in your garden.

To make crystal blossoms: Make a larger batch of the solution given above but leave out the ammonia. Make enough to completely cover the broken pieces in the dish (keep the pile low, under the rim of the dish.)

Add more solution every day or two to keep the same liquid level. After two weeks stop adding solution and allow the liquid to evaporate completely. Beautiful blossom shapes will form.

Have you ever wanted to pan for gold? Learn all of the subtleties of searching for gold with our gold panning activity, next in rock and mineral activities for kids.

For more fun nature and outdoor crafts, try: