As a homeschool momma I love it when we can combine subjects and have one lesson encompass all sorts of things.
Some people plan it that way… I’d love to say I do, but sometimes we’re flying by the seat of our pants. This was one of those experiments I’ve been wanting to do so when the opportunity presented itself I was super excited.
Nathan had just finished reading “The City of Ember” and we were discussing the cave they came out of at the end. He was trying to figure out what the things were that the girl in the story described as “piles of mashed potatoes.”
Totally unplanned, but none the less educational, we embarked on some research into stalactites (not stalagtites like I thought it was) and stalagmites. We watched a video, did some reading , and then decided to grow our own!!
This is a fun project, but be forewarned it does take several days so if you have an impatient kindergartner you’ll have to explain that… over… and over… and over.
Also you’ll want to set it up in an area where it won’t be disturbed by a renegade kitten, wagging dog tail, or any other hazards your house may hold. We put it on a part of the kitchen counter that could be left alone for a few days and it did just fine.
If you’re looking to sneak in some extra science (who isn’t??) This is also a great lesson to discuss mixtures, solutions, solvents, solutes and saturation. Lots of birds… one stone!
Here’s what you’ll need
Epsom Salt- about 2 Cups
Warm Water- 3-4 cups
2- Mason Jars, or glasses (roughly the same size as the jars)
about 18 inches of Natural String. – you can use wool or cotton. I used some Cooking twine and it worked beautifully
Food coloring (optional)
Take you’re mason jars or glasses and set them on your work surface. Add about 3/4 of a cup of epsom salt to each. This doesn’t have to be exact, the idea here is to get your solution good and salty until no more will dissolve in it.
Add your warm water and stir. Add more salt bit by bit until no more will dissolve.
If you want to use food coloring add it now. I recommend using it because you can start to see the water wick up the string .
Now cover the area where you’ll be leaving it with newspaper. and position your jars about 6 inches apart.
Take your string and fold it in half. Tie a knot in one end, give it a little twist and tie a knot in the other end. The knots help the string sink & twisting it gives a thicker area for the stalactite to connect too.
At this point it should look like this.
Now you wait… in about 2 days you’ll have something that looks like this.
Now ours sat looking like that for about 2 more days and Nathan said, “is that all it’s going to do??”
Yeah kind of a disappointment.
Come on Stalactite get to gettin’
So I scooched the glasses a little closer to each other thinking that would encourage the water to move a little faster.
Boy did it! In about 2 hours we had this.
Now that’s more like it.
My point here is this. If they seem to be growing slowly or its dripping too fast play around with how much slack your string has, that can make a big difference.
They are very fragile when they get this big so be careful. Daniel broke this one poking it but a new one grew back in it’s place pretty quickly!
If you try this come back and let me know how it works for you!! What’s your favorite way to combine subjects when teaching the kiddos??
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