If you’re a fan of easy science experiments for kids at home or school, this color changing flowers experiment is right up your alley!
You don’t need many materials for this classic experiment, and it has a big wow factor for the kids! Plus, it’s an incredibly easy way to explore the scientific method with young children.
This color changing flower experiment also helps children learn how flowers take in water. It quite literally makes the process more visible so the kids can get a better grasp of the concept.
While this is not an instant experiment, the results are still exciting for preschoolers. And it’s always fun to see them ooh and aah over the beautiful results.
Set up for the flower color changing experiment is super easy. You can even move onto another activity while the flowers do their thing. In fact, after the instructions you’ll find several ideas for flowers activities to try while you’re waiting. After all, can we ever get enough flowers?
Color Changing Flowers
Below I’ll share what we did for the dyed flower experiment. But keep in mind that you an make changes along the way as you prefer. There are a few different ways this can go, so don’t feel like you have to do things exactly the same way!
Materials for the Color Changing Flowers Experiment
Carnations are the perfect choice for color changing experiments. They’re sturdy with lots of petals to soak up all that dye. Plus they are easy to find at most grocery stores.
Of course, you can use any white flowers for this color changing experiment. If there aren’t any pick-able flowers near you at the moment, grab a bunch or two at the grocery store or florist. Carnations and daisies seem to be the flowers I’ve seen used most often for color experiments. But feel free to try different white flowers and compare the results.
Here’s what you will need (I may get commissions for purchases made through links in this post):
- White flowers (we used carnations for this project – cut stems down to about 5 inches)
- Cups or jars
- Food coloring
Since this experiment really only takes 3 supplies, I included some fun flower book ideas. Why not take the time to read a few books about flowers to the kids while you wait for the flowers to soak up their color? They’ll enjoy learning more about flowers, and you can make it a whole day dedicated to everything flowers!
I love easy experiments like this one for preschoolers, especially when you are short on time!
How Does the Color Changing Flower Experiment Work?
Here are the simple directions for this simple flower science experiment!
- Fill each cup about 3/4 of the way with water.
- Add 20 drops of desired food coloring to each cup and stir.
- Place a flower in each cup.
- Watch and observe what happens over time. You’ll start to see the flowers changing color based on what color you added to the water as time passes.
- Observe flowers for at least 24 hours for best results.
- Optional: Remove some of the petals from each flower and observe the petals
This is a great time to have a discussion with your preschoolers about flowers and how the water travels through them. You can go over the parts of a flower with them. On a carnation you’ll be able to point out the petals, stem, leaves, and maybe some buds.
The Scientific Method with Flowers
The color changing flowers experiment is a great time to touch on the scientific experiment. Yes, preschoolers can do this! The basics of the scientific method are as follows:
- Analyze the data
- Discuss data and observations
Start off by asking the children what they think will happen with the dyed water and the white flowers. Some of them may have done this experiment before, and that’s fine. You’re just getting them to think and hypothesize like scientists.
Next, set everything up to test their theories. Then encourage the kids to check in with the flowers every hour or so. If possible, have a way for the children to record their observations. This can be as simple as blank paper and crayons! Even better – keep track of things as a class, too. This can be done on a large sheet of paper.
Once the color changing flowers have run their course, sit down and look at the information you collected. Lead a discussion on what the kids observed throughout the process. You can then explain that flowers need water to live, just like we do. Unlike people, flowers get water and nutrients by pulling them up through their stems. The colored water shows the dispersion of this water.
Optionally, but this might be a fun addition to the experiment: have the kids draw a flower, complete with roots, stem, leaves, buds, and flower. Then let them choose what color dye they would use in the water and color their flower that color.
How Long Does It Take for a Flower to Change Color with Food Coloring?
While you are reading abut flowers or working on other flower activities, you may notice your kids peeking at the color-changing flowers.
It usually takes the flowers about an hour to start showing a little bit of color in their petals, but it can take up to 24 hours. So if the color looks pale at first, keep checking back throughout the day to see how the color has changed.
If you’d like, you can observe the flowers in regular intervals. Then work with the kids to keep track of how they change in terms of color saturation.
What is the Purpose of the Color Changing Flowers Activity?
If you want to get further into the science behind why flowers change color during this experiment, and why this is relevant, you can explain to the kids about capillary action.
According to the U.S. Geological Survey, capillary action is when water climbs up the open areas inside of plants and flowers from the ground, up through their roots, stems, and all through the whole plant. The water can move up the plant because its tiny molecules “stick” to the edges of the spaces it moves through and get pushed up.
Capillary action ensures that all the parts of the flower (or plant) get fed and stay healthy.
More Flower Activities for Preschoolers
These flower activities are perfect to work on with your preschoolers while you are waiting for the color changing flowers results. Choose a few to explore with your kids, and you’ll have given them a lot of great exposure to flowers as a learning tool!
- These flower sensory bottles are perfect for spring and add a playful activity to flower science.
- Your kids will have so much fun using kitchen utensils to make these flower prints.
- Flower shape mats will let you practice some math skills with your preschoolers.
- I love this festive and clear flower slime as a hands-on sensory activity.
- Embrace the mess as your kids dig into this garden messy play small world.
- Numbers are made into a fun and festive activity with this flower math activity.
- Another active way to practice adding, your kids will have fun with this planting flowers math game.
The best part about this flower color changing experiment is that you can keep the flowers around for a few days after the experiment. For this reason, you may want to make extras, or even use this as an opportunity to practice color mixing with some of the dyes. See how many colors of flowers you can create!
Preschool Flower Lesson Plans
Let Preschool Teacher 101 make your teaching life easier with fully-developed, done-for-you preschool resources. That way you spend more time teaching and living your life, and less time planning!
These complete set of preschool lesson plans set of preschool lesson plans gives you a week full of flower-themed math, literacy, science, art activities and more. Click on the image below to see a preview and get yours.
And of course we have even more spring learning resources available. Go ahead and click each image to read more and grab your own copies in our store:
And be sure to join The Pack from Preschool Teacher 101’s waiting list so you’re the first to know when our membership opens up next.
You can also find us on Teachers Pay Teachers.