This week along with the other bloggers of the #playfulpreschool team we are sharing learning and creative ideas for preschoolers based around the theme Autumn Colours as a change I am welcoming another member of the team Darla from The Preschool Toolbox to share a fun learning activity for preschoolers for Autumn Colours combining colour and plant science.

Autumn Colours - colour and plant science hands on learning for preschoolers

With this weeks theme of Autumn Colours it’s a great opportunity for some hands on science for preschoolers – finding out about the world around them and how it works is inbuilt; asking questions and discovering the answers themselves helps them learn and understand. With autumn colours as a theme it gave us the perfect opportunity to investigate colour science and combine with one of our preschoolers favourite plant experiments – drinking carnations.

Autumn Colours - colour and plant science hands on learning for preschoolers

Materials needed for Autumn Colours Plant Science

Red and Yellow Food Colouring
White Carnation Flowers
Pippette or dropper
White Paper Towel
3 vases

Learning objectives for Autumn Colours Plant Science

  • Learn about mixing colours – red and yellow
  • Investigate that plants need water and watch it in action

Preparation needed ahead

Set up 3 vases with water in of equal measures. Place these on white paper so that it is easier to see the colours.

Autumn Colours Plant Science

Using the pippette or dropper into vase 1 have the child add red food colouring – the more the better in the case of this situation, no one (apart from the plant) will be drinking the mixture. Into the 3rd vase add yellow food colouring again making a strong vibrant colour.

Autumn Colours - colour and plant science hands on learning for preschoolers

You can get your child to test the colour by dipping the white paper towel into the water to see that the colour is strong enough.

Using the pippette have your child add first yellow until you have a strong yellow colour to the water. Once there is a strong yellow very gradually have your child add in drops of red talking about the colour that is forming. When you have a bright orange it’s time to add in the carnation flowers.

Autumn Colours - colour and plant science hands on learning for preschoolers

Leave the plants to draw up the water through the stems for 48 – 72 hours – it does take a while to see but you can go back and observe the flowers regularly to see the change in them.

Autumn Colours - colour and plant science hands on learning for preschoolers

The Science behind the experiment

There are 2 areas of science in the experiment the first most obvious is that of colour mixing – red, yellow and blue are primary colours all other colours can be made up of mixing these 3 colours, red + yellow = orange, red + blue = purple and blue + yellow = green.

The use of carnations to see the colours is exploring transpiration. Transpiration is the process where water is moved in a plant, water is absorbed by the roots into the stems, vessels like veins called Xylem are found in the stem and take the water up to the leaves and flowers, these vessels continue into the petals of the flower and them small holes – stomata in the leaves and petals let the water evaporate when in the sun shine.

Transpiration is important as at the same time that water is brought through the plant minerals are dissolved in this water and the movement of the water lets them go to where they are needed in the plant. The pigments of food colouring that are dissolved in the water act the same as those dissolved minerals but as they are not needed in the plant they follow the full route of the water from entering the stem to leaving the petals of the flower via the stomata in the process colouring the xylem vessels that they are flowing through.

This weeks #playfulpreschool Autumn Colours learning activities

Visit these other fabulous sites for their learning activities based on the theme autumn colours

Fall Colors Modeled Writing in Preschool by Fun-A-Day

Fall Colors Water Mixing by Still Playing School

Exploring Fall Colors With Gourds by Little Bins For Little Hands

Why Leaves Change Colors by The Preschool Toolbox Blog

Learning With Preschool Songs: The Leaves of the Trees by Growing Book by Book

DIY Fall Color Word Book by The Educators’ Spin On It

Learning Number Words with Fall Colored Leaves by Tiny Tots Adventures

Fall Tree Number Matching by Mom Inspired Life

Colors of Fall Sensory Bin by Life Over C’s

Foot Painting The Fall Colours by Learning to Walk

Exploring Fall Colors in Paint by Powerful Mothering

Autumn Colours Plant Science at Rainy Day Mum

Make Your Own Fall Potpourri at Capri + 3

Join us tonight at 9:00 EST for a live Google Hangout where we share what activities we are doing for the fall color theme in our homes and classrooms.

About the author:

Darla Hutson has taught children ages infant-7 in a licensed group childcare/preschool home for the past 30 years. Darla has a passion for creating environments and activities that help facilitate play and learning for young children. She writes primarily at The Preschool Toolbox but you will also find activities for kids, teachers, and families with young children at: Wikki Stixand Hubpages.

For more Fall Science Activities visit:

Additional Preschool Science Activities

Pumpkin Life Cycle and Sequencing Cards

Fall and Thanksgiving Science Activities for Kids

Pumpkin Boats:  Sink or Float?

Fall and The 5 Senses

Corn Stalk Life Cycle

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Cerys Parker

Cerys is a marine biologist, environmental educator, teacher, mum, and home educator from the UK. She loves getting creative, whether it is with simple and easy crafts and ideas, activities to make learning fun, or delicious recipes that you and your kids can cook together you'll find them all shared here on Rainy Day Mum.


  1. I wish I could have been there to see the petals changing colour. I imagine this activity can be adapted to any white /light coloured flower, correct? Ideas, ideas.

  2. We have been meaning to try the carnation experiment for a while. I would not have thought about using Fall colors. That is a great idea. Not only do the children learn a great science lesson, but the house is then decorated for Fall too!

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