Why do leaves change color? As the seasons change, it is common for students to wonder about what causes leaves to shift from vibrant greens to the iconic orange and yellow pigments we see each year.
This is a great chance to use phenomena to start a science lesson. Why do leaves change color in the fall? is a great starting question.
Show your students a photo and ask them: Why do leaves change color in the fall?
Ask them to come up with other questions about fall colors.
- Why do some trees change colors and others do not?
- Why are the fall colors more vivid in certain locations?
- Why do some locations get more vivid colors than others?
- Why do leaves fall from the tree?
To start answering the questions my students came up with, I would start with an inquiry-based science lesson.
Students Love This Colorful Experiment!
Take your students outside to pick some leaves that are still green from a deciduous tree, like maple or aspen that will turn colors in the fall.
Next, tear the leaves up into bits and grind a few against something to really mush them up. Place in a glass jar and cover with rubbing alcohol.
Cover with foil and place the jar in a cup or bowl of hot water
Next, attach some paper towel strips to a pencil or stick with a piece of tape.
Place the end inside the jar and observe.
You will see greens and other shades of greens and even some yellows and oranges. The colors separate and it is revealed that the yellow was under the green all this time!
The next thing I do is have students read some nonfiction text article on Why Leaves Change Color in the Fall or watch a presentation to find out more about the scientific process.
Why do Leaves Change Color in the Fall?.
Why do we have some years with vivid fall colors?
I have them write up their experiment results and understanding in their interactive notebook. I also have them place some leaves in the interactive notebook. Securing them down with clear packing tape helps them keep their color.
Students Love this Fall Leaf Experiment!
This is a great fall science activity. This fall experiment will explore why Leaves change color in the fall. Hint: It has to do with photosynthesis! The hands-on lab will demonstrate that green deciduous leaves have other pigments hidden within. Following the simple directions, students will see the other colors within a leaf appear. This is a really fun and engaging experiment to do with simple household materials. The results are dramatic and exciting. The reading passage will provide additional information on why some leaves, like maple, turn red and what the chemical process behind this phenomenon is.
This Fall Leaf Resource includes:
- informational text passages
- slide show
- response pages
- interactive notebook flaps
- hands-on lab
- CER writing Activity
The above resource is appropriate fro grade 5th-8th and focuses on concepts such as photosynthesis and seasonal change.If you are looking to do the same lab with younger students, check out my resource for upper elementary. It does not include reading passages, instead the information is provided in a slid show. Why Do Leaves Change Color in the Fall?-Upper Elementary Version
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