October Activities

Why Do Leaves Change Color?

When the days become shorter and the temperatures get colder, deciduous trees, the trees that drop their leaves in Autumn, stop sending water to their leaves. As the leaves dry, Chlorophyll (the food making chemical within the leaf’s structure) disappears. Some of the bright colors we begin to see are from chemical pigments that were present in the leaves all summer but were masked by the stronger green pigment of the chlorophyll. Other color pigments are created by changes in the leaf chemistry as it dries out. In northern states, these colors are especially bright, because of the more extreme temperature changes and the particular types of trees that grow there, such as sugar maples and paper birches, whose leaves contain colorful pigments.

Collect colored leaves. Make collages by gluing arrangements of leaves on cardboard, ironing them between sheets of waxed paper, or sandwiching them between sheets of clear contact paper.

Pick a tree in your yard or nearby park and sketch it in your Nature Journal. Color it the way you see it in Autumn. When Winter is here do the same, and then again in Spring and Summer!