Kids fascinated by food colouring dyed flowers

Toddler in Tow

Last updated 09:04 30/10/2012

DYE JOB: Testing different food colouring on flowers proves an intriguing and entertaining activity for the little ones.

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OPINION: Bailey and I have spent the last few weeks experimenting with flowers and food colouring to see if we can change the colours of the petals and leaves.

It proved to be a fun and colourful way to find out where the water goes when we water plants and also to introduce the process of science experiments and the idea of cause and effect.

First we experimented with white carnations. I asked Bailey to make a hypothesis (which he now knows is a big word that means "guess") about what might happen if we put the stems of the carnations in water with food colouring. He guessed the flowers would change colour.

After 24 hours, sure enough, they did. It was really exciting for Bailey to check on the flowers every couple of hours to see first a ring of colour around the edge of the flower and finally to see that the whole flower had turned a more even, lighter shade.

We then decided to try making a flower turn two colours. For this we used a calla lily, as it has a nice thick stem. We cut vertically up the stem to split it in half, stopping a couple of inches short of the lily's head. Then we placed half the stem in a jar of red food colouring and water and the other in yellow.

The lily changed colour a lot faster than the carnations. We decided this was because the stem was thicker and more water could travel up it faster. Within an hour we had a half red/half yellow lily. The colours became very vivid overnight.

Our third experiment involved celery. Bailey didn't think the celery leaves would change colour because "they're already green, Mum".

This proved to be a good learning curve for him to find that his hypotheses were not always correct, as the celery stalks and leaves changed colour quickly.

I found the science experiments created opportunities for some fantastic discussions when making hypotheses and checking the results. We discussed whether he thought the length of the stem, amount of food colouring and amount of water would have an effect on the colour, and what other "growing things" might change colour.

He has already asked if we can "colour-in" some other flowers and would like to try making a lily turn three colours, not just two.

We performed the experiments with items generally found in the house and the results were immediate enough that he didn't get bored.

Sure, I had to empty a few jars of baby food into plastic containers so we could use them, and we managed to stain the windowsill with food colouring, but what's a science experiment without a bit of mess and madness?



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- Kapi-Mana News


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