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Why do Leaves Change Colors

Discover why leaves change colors in autumn with this fun preschool science experiment perfect for the fall!

Materials Needed

Why do Leaves Change Colors?

Difficulty Level: Medium/Difficult

Time Needed: 80 minutes (60 min rest time)

Best done: Indoors or Outdoors

Mess Level: Medium

Green Leaves in a glass jar

Materials Needed

  • Rubbing Alcohol

  • Hot Water

  • Jar

  • Bowl (large enough for jar to stand in)

  • Green leaves (that will turn color like oak, maple, or birch)

  • Strip of a coffee filter

  • If desired-observation record sheet

Time to Experiment!

For this science activity your child(ren) will learn about why leaves change colors.

**This activity will require plenty of adult supervision!

  • To begin: Gather some leaves (from the same tree) with your children). The leaves should be from a tree whose leaves change colors such as a maple BUT the leaves you gather must still be green.

  • Then: Ask your child(ren) to rip up the leaves into small pieces and place them in the jar.


  • Pour rubbing alcohol into the jar until it reaches the halfway point.

  • Mash up the leaves using a spoon- REALLY mash them

  • Pour hot water into the separate container and place the jar inside it, standing up

*Let it sit for an hour

  • Come back and check the jar. Ask your child(ren) what they observe.

  • Then: place the strip of coffee filter into the jar – leaving it in overnight if possible.

  • There should be new colors on the filter! (They may be very light)


  • Why does this happen? The leaves contain something called chlorophyll (basically plant food). As the season changes and it gets colder outside, the chlorophyll starts to break down. This allows the colors that have always been inside of the leaf to show through!

Other Fall Science Activities

Leaves falling

Why do Leaves Fall

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