Leaf Color Experiment

With fall around the corner, we've been seeing the leaves in our neighborhood slowly start to change. My kids have had so much fun discovering the new pops of color in our yard. This is absolutely one of our favorite fall science experiments! Simple and quick, this experiment teaches kids about color in leaves. If you are a parent of curious kids, be sure to give this experiment a try!

  1. Ages: 3 - 6

  2. 30 minutes - 1 hour

  3. A little messy

  4. Grownup needed


Materials you'll need

Step-by-step tutorial

  • Step 1

    Place four leaves in a pot of boiling water. Boil your leaves for 5 minutes. Make sure to have an adult supervise this step!

    Photo reference of how to complete step 1

  • Step 2

    While you wait for your leaves to boil, fill up your test tubes (or tall glasses would work too) with rubbing alcohol. You'll need enough rubbing alcohol to submerge the leaves in.

    Photo reference of how to complete step 2

  • Step 3

    Once leaves have boiled for 5 minutes, use your tongs to pick up the leaves and quickly place them in the rubbing alcohol.

    Photo reference of how to complete step 3

  • Step 4

    Note the current color of the rubbing alcohol. Now wait about an hour and observe what happened to the leaves and alcohol. What do you see?Let your experiment sit overnight and come back to see if your alcohol color has turned darker. Can you guess what colors these leaves are?

    Photo reference of how to complete step 4

  • Learn moremagnifying icon graphic

    What's going on?

    Leaves are full of chlorophyll, which works to for convert the energy of the sun into food for the plant. Chlorophyll also makes leaves appear green. They have other colors in them as well, but as long as there's lots of chlorophyll, the green hides all the other colors. However, in the fall the chlorophyll in the leaves starts to break down. This allows other colors such as yellow, and orange to make their appearance!

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