This science meets art project is almost magical, at least that’s what my kids thought as they watched fall colors transform their plain white coffee filter into a work of art. It’s an easy kid activity fit for an autumn day. In fact, it’s so easy that you will probably end up with a big leafy pile in no time. You should have all the supplies and I have provided a free leaf template, so the next thing you need to do is gather the kids and start crafting.
BECAUSE ALL ACTIVITIES ARE BETTER WITH A BOOK!
Click photos: Affiliate links to more information on these books we love! 🙂
Autumn Leaves STEAM Absorption Art
- Coffee Filters-affiliate link
- Cup of water
- Leaf template (available to download below)
Melitta Junior Basket Coffee Filters White 100 CountCrayola Broad Point Washable Markers – Pack of 2 (58-7808-2Pack)Schoolworks 5 Inch Blunt-tip Kids Scissors, 2/ Pack (153520-1004)Fox Run 36092 Maple Leaf Cookie Cutter Set, Stainless Steel, 5-Piece
You can watch our Youtube video tutorial here, which is fun for kids to craft along with my kid’s or you can continue to the directions below.
Place the coffee filter on top of the leaf template and trace it out. The leaf template is available to download at the end of this post. If you are unable to print the template you could always use a cookie cutter or draw a leaf shape on your own. I would grab about 5 coffee filters at a time, trace the leaf on the top filter, and then carefully cut 5 coffee filters at one time.
Have children use the markers to make a doughnut ring in the middle of the leaf. I drew a circle in the middle and then had the kids trace around it a few times. Make sure the inside of the circle is not filled in as well as the rest of the leaf because you want to leave room for the color to travel up the leaf. Let kids experiment and try several colors at a time if they want.
Fold the leaf 3 times (in half, in half and in half again) making a point in the middle of the circle.
Have children carefully dip their leaf in the water so that only the white tip of the circle touches. The water should start to travel up the coffee filter leaf and spread the ink throughout. It only takes a minute for the leaf to be completely saturated. My kiddos accidentally dropped a few leaves in the water which ended up turning the water colors instead of the coffee filter so you may want to have a few extra coffee filters on hand just in case.
Remove the leaf from the water and let it dry. I taped them to a box but you could always clip them on a clothesline (probably a better idea…but we were making up the steps as we went along :).
Once the leaf is dry carefully unfold it and enjoy. I love how the color traveled to the outside of the leaves because they look so lovely and it was a perfect visual representation for my little kids of how water travels through leaves as it carried the marker to the ends of the leaf (transpiration) making it soft and supple like our wet coffee filter, and exists through holes (stomata) making the leaf crisp like our dry coffee filter.
When we were done we used our leaves to make a fall leaf collage that is now hanging up on our wall. Learn more about leaves with one of our most popular fall science posts: Exploring the Colors of Leaves and kids can also review the anatomy of a leaf: Color and Label Free Printable. This art idea was inspired by Buggy and Buddies Butterfly Chromatography Activity. Be sure to stop by and read their tips on how to get the colors to separate for an extra exciting touch to this art activity.
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See more: Science Activities
See more: Fall Activities
Thanks for crafting with us today. If you enjoyed this idea please pin & share it with others so they can enjoy it too! Love, Katie & the Kiddos (originally posted 9/29/2016, updated 9/1/2017)