Why do Leaves turn colors?

Good Morning ! If you are a reader of my blog – you know that I schooled at Home and now as the town Liberian I help tutor kids at the library. Every Fall this fun questions come up from the kids! Today i will give you that answer .

Chlorophyll Breaks Down

But in the fall, because of changes in the length of daylight and changes in temperature, the leaves stop their food-making process. The chlorophyll breaks down, the green color disappears, and the yellow to orange colors become visible and give the leaves part of their fall splendor.

Plants are responsible for creating the oxygen that we breathe. They do this by absorbing water from the ground and carbon dioxide from the air. Using sunlight (through photosynthesis) they turn water and carbon dioxide into oxygen and glucose. Oxygen is what we need to breathe and glucose is what the plant uses to grow. The term photosynthesis means “putting together with light”. The chemical that plants use to make photosynthesis is chlorophyll. Chlorophyll is the same chemical that gives plants their green color.

Science expedient :Leaf Lab

We like to take a fun nature walk, enjoying nature, and collecting fall treasures along the way. Try to collect a variety of fall colored leaves.

To try this leaf science experiment, you will need a few simple materials you probably already have laying around the house. You will need the following supplies:

  • Masson Jars – (Glass Jars)
  • Coffee Filters – we’ve done this a couple times and the BIG ones let kids see more of the chromatography (colors in the leaves)
  • Leaves
  • Rubbing Alcohol
  • Notebook and Pencil to Record Observations

Now, sort the fall leaves into containers by color. The sorted cover leaves should then be ground up or torn into pieces.

Covered with leaves with simple rubbing alcohol.The rubbing alcohol should start showing all the colors in the leaves.

Make a cone shape with the coffee filters and place the pointed tip into the leaf and rubbing alcohol mixture and allow it to sit long enough to absorb the liquid.

You will immediately be able to see the coffee filters absorb the liquid.

HINT:  How long it takes to completely absorb the color will depend on how many leaves and how much rubbing alcohol was used.

After 12 hours ours hadn’t fully absorbed the liquid but you could begin to see the effect.

During winter, the days get shorted affecting the amount of sun the leaves are exposed to. Due to this lack of sunlight, plants go into a resting state and live off of the glucose that they stored over the summer. As they shut down for the winter, the green chlorophyll disappears from the leaves. As the bright green fades away, we begin to see yellow and orange colors. Small amounts of these colors have been in the leaves all along.  For example in Maple trees the bright red that shows up is a result of excess glucose being trapped in the leaves.

Lisa Book shelf:

Is an oak tree blue? Or maybe a birch tree? Of course not! Trees are green.


Well—have you ever seen a blue tree?

Teach your child about colors with this entertaining picture book!

Can a Tree Be Blue? is a fun, brightly illustrated nature story for toddlers, preschoolers, and young readers. In this book, children will discover all the colors that a tree can be, while also learning how trees change throughout the year.

Thanks for spending some time at Home with Me…. Lisa

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