The Science of Autumn: Why Do Leaves Change Color?

In the Fall, your child might notice all the significant changes the environment goes through. This can be the lower temperatures, the heavier apparel, and the increase in rainfall we get during the fall months. Kids ask a lot of questions because they are seeing these changes for the first time, so get ready to have some answers! Leaves changing color in particular can be quite the science lesson, so here’s how to explain in a way a child both understands and finds exciting:

Green Leaves

Explain to your kids that trees produce their own food source with the use of water and sunlight. Help them imagine leaves as little factories that make food for the tree. They have a special ingredient called chlorophyll, which makes them look green. During spring and summer, these factories work really hard because there's a lot of sunlight. When fall comes, the days get shorter, and it's not as sunny. The factories slow down, and the chlorophyll starts to disappear. As the green chlorophyll goes away, other colors that were always there but hidden by the green, like yellows and oranges, start to show.

Leaf Drop

As the colors change, the leaves get ready to leave the tree. This is the tree’s way of shedding old leaves to make room for new ones. Tell your child to think of it as a big nature party, with confetti-like leaves falling from the sky. With all the beautiful colors of the leaves changing from green to yellow, orange, or red is a beautiful sight to see that is sure to spark curiosity. Take advantage of the big leaf drop before winter sets in! Collect different leaves to teach your child about the different shapes, sizes, and colors a fallen leaf can take. This will help them understand more about tree species and you can even dive into the structure of a leaf.

So, in simple terms, leaves change color in the fall because the green chlorophyll goes away, revealing the other colors that were there all along. It's like a magical transformation before the leaves get ready to dance their way to the ground.


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