Thursday, August 26, 2010

Teaching Patience (With a Sweet Reward)

Last week, which was supposed to be a completely school-free week, my two littles decided they just had to do a science experiment. Like, right now. This is the sort of enthusiasm I just don't have it in me to squash, even if it wasn't on my clean-the-house-and-get-organized-before-school-starts agenda.

They found an experiment in our new experiment book for growing crystals. But the one in the book just had them grow crystals with "washing soda" (it's a British book). Boring! OK, they probably grow faster, but honestly... wouldn't you rather grow crystals with sugar? Yum.

So I found a recipe online, and we made up our super duper sugar syrup. We put 2 cups of water on to boil, and gradually mixed in 4 cups of sugar. Yes, you read that right. Twice as much sugar as water. Oh, and some blue food coloring.

Sugar syrup

We carefully poured into jars, and dangled strings into each jar (strings that had been rolled in sugar and tied to a pen to suspend them over the jars). And we watched. And we waited.

Day 1

It's six days later, and we are still watching and waiting. We have crystals now (yay!), and if we wanted to, we could yank out those strings and enjoy some delicious rock candy right this very minute. We could! But, see... if we wait a bit longer, the crystals will have more of a chance to form, and the candy will be bigger.

Crystals forming, day 6

In other words, I have created the ultimate test of patience. This is called delayed gratification, people, and I am watching it unfold day by day. So far, the lure of future candy is still greater than the desire for candy now, and the jars remain undisturbed. But when will we be unable to resist any longer? How long will we let the crystals grow?

Crystals on top

Man, I hope these kids cave soon. I could really go for something crunchy and sweet...


  1. Oh I haven't had rock candy in forever! What a fun science lab you have!

  2. rock candy is one of my favorite! love that shot w the blue mason jars! :)

  3. Your children have developed patience alright! How did the reward taste??

    I enjoyed your first day post! Love the paper on the table idea! Are you still using your planner sheet?


  4. It took us three weeks to get enough rock to form on our stick. But, my daughter enjoyed it. :) You can see pictures under the label "homeschool" on my blog, if you want. :)