Why Do Fall Leaves Change Colors? #PlayfulPreschool

Fall Leaf Activities for Preschool Fall Colors for #PlayfulPreschool

This week’s #playfulpreschool theme contains activities centered around FALL COLORS (Red, Orange, and Yellow).  All throughout the school year, the Playful Preschool blogging team will be working behind the scenes to offer activities and suggestions just for your students or children.  Please visit the home page of this blog each Wednesday morning to see new theme-based ideas for playful learning!

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Almost every teacher or parent of a preschool child is asked the question:  “Why Do Fall Leaves Change Colors?”  Often, parents (and even some teachers) do not quite remember WHY leaves change colors…they JUST DO!  Experimenting with colors and exploring fall leaves with preschoolers is fun play as the vibrant colors of fall leaves appear!

Fall Leaves Change ColorsFall Leaves Change Colors by Kathleen Weidner Zoehfeld is intended for children ages 5-6, but the book is easily adapted for preschool!  We use this book as a resource in our classroom and we read it every fall!  While some of the vocabulary may seem a bit advanced for preschoolers, you’ll be surprised at how easily they catch on!  With a little experimentation, the book can bring great insights into the brilliant colors of leaves young children find in the fall!

Why Do Leaves Change Colors?

  • Leaves need sunlight, air, water, and chlorophyll to make food (sugar) for the tree.
  • Chlorophyll is the green dominant pigment in leaves during the spring/summer.  The green pigment hides the other colors in the leaf.
  • Leaves get less light each day in the fall and stop making food to prepare for the winter.
  • The chlorophyll (green color) fades and other colors (mainly red/yellow/orange/tan) in the leaves begin to show.
  • The stems of the leaves will weaken (without food) and the leaves fall from the trees.

Fall Leaf Scratch and RevealMaple Leaf “Color, Scratch, and Reveal”

The maple leaf scratch and reveal is a fun activity to help cement the idea that the green pigment (chlorophyll) in leaves masks all the other colors.

Materials needed:  Maple leaf template (linked here – Maple Leaf Template), a coin for rubbing, and orange/yellow/red/green crayons.

Print the template for each of the children to heavy paper.  Set out the orange/yellow/red crayons and invite the children to color the maple leaf.   The children may choose to use a combination of colors or just one color.  After the children have finished coloring, invite the children to use the green crayon to color leaf until you can no longer see the color underneath the green (see photo above).  Using a coin, invite the children to scratch off the green crayon to reveal the leaf color(s) underneath.  Remind the children that as the green color (the chlorophyll) fades, the beautiful fall colors in the leaf are revealed.  NOTE:  supervise children who still mouth objects carefully when using coins or other small objects in activities.

Leaf Sort and Reveal Sugar TraysEXCAVATING FALL LEAVES – a simple leaf and sugar tray

The leaf sugar tray is another way to explore the concept of chlorophyll fading from fall leaves to expose other colors.

Materials needed:  Green Sugar or Green Sand (to make your own, rub green chalk into sugar or sand on a paper plate), a paintbrush, a large tray, and assorted colors of real leaves or assorted green/yellow/red/orange fall craft leaves or table scatter.

Fall Colors Playful Preschool 001Set all of the fall leaves out on a large tray.  Cover the leaves with green sugar or green sand.  Give the children a paintbrush and have them gently “excavate” to find the various colored leaves under the sugar.  Remind the children that the green sugar/sand is like the chlorophyll (green pigment) in leaves.  In the fall as the days get shorter, the chlorophyll fades (they brush it off) and the other colors in the leaves will appear.

Leaf Reveal and Sort for Preschool


Graphing Fall Leaves in PreschoolMaterials needed:  One graphing printable (linked here – Fall Leaf Graphing in Preschool), crayons, and red/green/orange/yellow craft (or real) leaves.

After excavating leaves from the sugar tray, invite the children to sort their leaves by color and count the number of each.  The children can color one box on the printable for each leaf of the corresponding colors they found in the sugar tray.  It’s a fun extension activity for incorporating graphing skills into fall play!

For other posts in the #playfulpreschool series, visit:





Playful Preschool Bloggers

For More FALL COLOR Themed Preschool Activities from the PLAYful Preschool Education Team: 

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 pschooltoolbox

Educator, Wife, Mom of 6, ECE Curriculum & Design, Professional ECE Blogger & Brands. I write about playful learning activities primarily via The Preschool Toolbox Blog - STEAM, STEM, and Digitial Content Curator for Omnicor, Inc.
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38 Responses to Why Do Fall Leaves Change Colors? #PlayfulPreschool

  1. Pingback: Autumn Colours Plant Science for Preschoolers - #playfulpreschool - Rainy Day Mum

  2. Pingback: Preschool Songs: The Leaves of the Trees

  3. Pingback: Exploring Fall Colors With Gourds Preschool Activity | Little Bins for Little Hands

  4. Pingback: Exploring Fall Colors in Paint

  5. Devany says:

    The sugar tray! The graphing! The science facts! I love this whole post!

  6. Sarah says:

    What thoughtful and hands-on ideas to explore leaves changing colors. I love the sensory tray!

  7. Pingback: Number Recognition: Fall Tree Number Matching - Mom Inspired Life

  8. Pingback: Fall Colors Modeled Writing in Preschool - Fun-A-Day!

  9. Pingback: Colors of Fall Sensory Bin for Preschoolers

  10. Danielle @ Mom Inspired Life says:

    I LOVE the sensory tray for explaining how leaves change colors! That’s such a great idea!

  11. Pingback: Using Feet To Paint The Fall Colours #PlayfulPreschool

  12. I really like the bar graph activity!

  13. Theresa says:

    This is a WONDERFUL learning post about the reasons leaves change color. I love all of your inventive ideas. We will be trying these out!

  14. Amanda says:

    You did an excellent job explaining such a complicated topic. I am excited to see some of our leaves change!

  15. Fantastic post – we’re going to be making scratch off leaves this week great Science for preschoolers

  16. Natasha says:

    I see that they have to do a little searching for this activity. We love activities where we have to play search and find.

  17. Kim says:

    What an awesome idea for exploring why leaves change colors! I look forward to trying it out with my kids!

  18. Such awesome activities to explore fall leaves! I especially love the scratch off leaves!!

  19. Alecia says:

    I have a confession: I have NEVER thought of why leaves change their colour. Chalk it up to growing in a Caribbean country where seasons were marked by the fruit that was in abundance. That being said, I think we shall be trying the leaf excavation VERY soon.

  20. Pingback: Starry Night by Vincent Van Gogh for #PlayfulPreschool! - The Preschool Toolbox BlogThe Preschool Toolbox Blog

  21. I love this hands-on activity! The kids that I teach love collecting the big autumn leaves and bringing them into class, so it would be great to be able to do a fun activity with them. We also spend so much time learning about the seasons but sometimes it’s hard to get the information to stick, and I think activities like this would help!

  22. Pingback: Dinosaur Theme for Preschool: Hatching DINO Eggs - Early Math & Science. - The Preschool Toolbox BlogThe Preschool Toolbox Blog

  23. Pingback: #Playful Preschool Learning Number Words with Fall Colored Leaves | Tiny Tots Adventures

  24. Pingback: Make Your Own Fall Potpourri

  25. Pingback: Why Do Leaves Change Color? A Nonfiction Speech Therapy Packet | Scanlon Speech Therapy

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