Why Do Leaves Change Colors? A Science Experiment with Kids

Monthly post from contributor Kristen at Celebrate Every Day with Me

why do leaves change colors - science experiment for kids

“Why do leaves change colors?”  Have your kids ever asked you this question?  I’ll admit, I had forgotten the scientific reason and copped out to the simple explanation of the change in seasons.  I might have also used my awesome go-to answer, “Because God made it that way.”  

And while completely true, it may be interesting to discover more deeply how He made the leaves to change colors every Fall.  So let’s put our proverbial science goggles on and learn why we see the lovely orange, yellow and red leaves of Autumn.

What You’ll Need:

  • Spinach
  • Plastic Punch Cup
  • Spoon
  • Nail Polish Remover
  • One Coffee Filter
  • Scissors
  • Tape
  • Pen or Pencil

The Experiment:

1.  Tear spinach leaves into little bits and place in the plastic cup.

why leaves change colors - science experiment with spinach

2.  Mash the spinach with a spoon.

mash the spinach for our fall science experiment

3.  Add nail polish to cover the spinach leaves.

use nail polish to break down the spinach

4.  Cut a strip of coffee filter.  Wrap around a pen or pencil and tape in place.

why do leaves change colors - science experiment with spinach and nail polish remover

5.  Place the pen across the cup and wait a couple hours.

science experiment for fall leaves

colors of fall leaves

Watch the colors grow up the coffee filter.  What colors do you see?  

We saw a lot of green as well as some red and yellow.  But how do you get red and yellow from green leaves?

The answer and why leaves change colors:  Leaves are green because of the chemical, chlorophyll.  But that is not the only chemical in the leaves.  Other chemicals produce the reds, oranges and yellows that we see during Autumn.  During the Spring and Summer when the days are longer, a process called photosynthesis produces chlorophyll, thus making the leaves green.  As the days are shorter, less chlorophyll is produced allowing the other colors to show.  In our experiment, the nail polish remover broke down the leaves to release the various chemicals and colors.

Interested in more fun science experiments?  Check out this book, The Everything Kids’ Science Experiments Book.

Have fun and keep discovering!


Kristen Summers-squareKristen of Celebrate Every Day With Me is a fun-loving mom to two kids who keep her busy and laughing. Add her great husband and the Lord to the mix and her life is one fantastic (and sometimes crazy) adventure. She is a former youth leader, professional wedding and event planner and has a degree in Christian Thought/Christian Ministry. She loves long lists, diet soda and playing jokes on her husband.

Kristen is the author of Teach Me To Serve:  99 Ways Preschoolers Can Learn To Serve & Bless Others.  On her blog, you’ll find fun ideas for children’s activities, creating memorable moments and party planning.

Homeschool Your Way: Eliminate Guilt and Trust Your Instincts

Guest Post from Brenda at Schooling a Monkey

While this post is geared toward homeschooling parents, it also applies to parents of children in traditional school as well! We all make decisions about how to educate our children and may feel unsure from time to time! This post offers some helpful encouragement for parents who may be second-guessing their educational decisions.

homeschool your way

Homeschooling parents are different, in case you haven’t noticed. :-)

We are different from parents who send their children to public school, we are different from parents who send their children to private school, and we are different from each other.

There are as many different reasons for choosing to homeschool as there are homeschooling parents. Some choose to homeschool because their children have learning differences, some choose to homeschool for religious reasons, some choose to homeschool to suit their current lifestyle, some choose to homeschool to provide a specialized education, some choose to homeschool to provide extra education to children bored in traditional school- and there are thousands of other reasons.

Even though no two homeschooling parents choose to teach their children at home for the same reason- we still tend to compare our children’s schooling with others.

I found myself falling into the comparison trap a few months ago. One of my friends is using a more delight-directed schooling style for her children. We are using a more traditional textbook-based schooling style this school year.

As I listened to my friend describe their school days, I started to feel guilty about the choices that I had made.

Was I stifling my children’s creativity? Should I try to provide more hands-on activities for them? Were we doing too much school and not enough living?

But when my daughter was younger, we did follow a more delight-directed approach. And you know what? I still had questions.

Is she learning everything she needs to know? Is she on grade level? Am I holding her back by not pushing traditional schooling?

All educators, whether at home or in a traditional school setting have the same goal. To ensure each child can function as an adult by the age of 18 and receive whatever education is necessary for that child to reach their career goals. However, how each child reaches that goal differs from family to family, from child to child, and even from year to year.

This year, I am moving toward that goal by providing a structured school environment. My friend is also moving toward that goal by offering her children the chance to explore their world and find what they love to do.

This is why comparing our schooling choices to another family’s is so dangerous. You know where you want your children to go. You decided that a certain path is the best way to get there. Later, you will decide if you need to choose another path or keep moving on your existing path.

If we compare our lives with that of another homeschooling family, we not only become discontent with our own schooling style, but we also start to second-guess our qualifications to teach and make decisions about our children’s education.

You know what is important for your children to learn and the best way to teach it to them.

Your way will not look like your friends’ way, and that is a good thing! Homeschooling is designed to be highly individual to meet the needs of your children. All children are not the same, and all homeschooling will not be the same. You have the flexibility to choose a separate path and alter that path if it is no longer working.

No matter what homeschooling method you have chosen, never feel guilty that it does not match what your friends are doing. They have chosen the method that works best for their family, and you have chosen the method that works best for your family.

Have confidence in your choice!

Stacie’s note:  Be sure to check out How to Homeschool:  Six Ways to Get Started if you are interested in learning more about “types” of homeschooling!


avatar300 roundBio: Brenda Priddy is the creator of SchoolingaMonkey.com and mom to two girls. She is passionate about providing useful and simple resources for parents particularly in the areas of crafts, DIY projects, homeschool ideas, and healthy food.

Brenda loves finding fun ways to teach children, craft projects, books, and coffee. Her goal is to help other parents educate their children with easy, fun ideas! Follow Schooling a Monkey on Facebook or Twitter.


Exclusive Educents Freebie for Motherhood on a Dime Readers through October 22 ($52 Value!!)

Update: FINAL DAY for this!! I just resent a link at around 4 PM for those of you who are already email subscribers.  Please be sure to download it if you want it, because once it’s gone, it’s gone!

Motherhood on a Dime Educents Freebie

I am so excited to share this freebie with you!  I have teamed up with Educents to bring you this Educational FREEBIE Pack.  Worth over $52, my wonderful readers can get it for FREE!!  Be sure you are signed up for my email mailing list.  You can sign up here or in the post below. Once you’ve signed up, confirm your email and you’ll get an email with access to all of my freebies!

Enter your Email:
Preview | Powered by FeedBlitz


Already an email subscriber?  Look for the link to the printable pack in your inbox at 7 PM CT tonight (October 20)!

Simply add it to your Educents cart to grab it!  Please feel free to share this post with friends, too!

Encourage your little one(s) to have FUN while learning! Snag this pack (worth $52!) for tons of fantastic worksheets and hands-on activities! It includes some of our most popular products, like Frozen-themed math units, Teach Me Sight Words, Dino-ROAR math centers, and many more! Perfect for individual students OR entire classrooms! You’ll get:

God’s Little Explorers: Week 7 (I is for Insect + Moses)


Each Thursday, I will be reposting our lessons from last year.  If you want to follow along with us, we’d love to have you!

Considering purchasing the complete download of God’s Little Explorers?  You can find out the top 10 differences between the weekly free preschool lesson plans and the complete download here.


Welcome!  Here are this week’s lesson plans.  You can find the printable plans at the bottom of the post.  If you’d like to know more about God’s Little Explorers Preschool Curriculum, head over here.  Please feel free to share your ideas in the comments or send me an email!  Also, if you find any errors, please feel free to let me know.  This is a work-in-progress!!

God’s Little Explorers Week 7

  • Theme:  ”I” is for Insect
  • Bible Story:  Moses (Through the 10 Plagues)
  • Bible Verse:  “The Lord said to Moses, “Go to Pharaoh and say to him ‘This is what the Lord says:  Let my people go, so that they may worship me.” Exodus 8:1
  • Letter:  I
  • Number:  2

Here are a few activities we did:

One of our favorite activities was learning about the 10 plagues from the Bible in a hands-on way.  Here is what we did:

1)  Water to blood:  I put red powdered drink mix in the bottom of a dark container and had one daughter pour clean water into it.

2)  Frogs:  We just hopped around like frogs.

3)  Gnats or Lice:  The girls put various colored office dot “bites” all over them.

4)  Flies:  I sprinkled pepper on the girls hands and they “shooed” it away (it’s a stretch, but it was all I could think of)!

5)  Diseased Livestock:  We made our toy cows fall over like they were sick and/or dead.

6)  Boils:  We used bubble wrap to make “boils”.

7)  Hail:  I threw marshmallows at them!

8)  Locusts:  We made our grasshoppers jump.

9)  Darkness:  The girls covered their eyes and walked around in darkness.

10)  Death of the firstborn:  We “painted blood” (really we used tissue paper strips) around a doorway.

We practiced forming the letter i with craft sticks and office dots in the Alphabet Notebook (which is just a notebook with each letter of the alphabet written on a separate page).

We made a few “jumping” grasshoppers.

A bug jar is essential to a unit on insects!  Here is another example of an insect jar we’ve made in the past.

It was such a nice day, we went on a bug hunt.

She made play dough bricks while listening to the story of Moses and pharoah.

We did a simple review game we did to practice letters and sounds.

I wrote the number two on a sheet of construction paper.  My daughter used pieces of yarn to outline it.

We made fingerprint insects on the printable i (included in the download).  We have a few different fingerprint ideas over on this Bug Hat post.

A few other activities to try:

 Recommended Resources:


Want to be sure you get the printable lesson plan each week? Consider signing up for my Motherhood on a Dime complete daily email with coupons, deals, recipes, kids’ activities and more.

If you’d rather receive just my KIDS newsletter with 3-4 kid-friendly posts each week via email, subscribe here.

P.S. You don’t have to subscribe to both! If you sign up for the complete email, you’ll get the kids’ activities, too.