Need a fun science experiment that will amaze kids of all ages? This magical blooming flowers experiment will have your kids gasp in surprise as the paper flowers unfold right in front of their eyes!
Your preschooler and elementary school kids will love designing their own paper flowers. You can also do this experiment with stars instead of flowers.
Or, instead of having your kids color the flowers, you can prepare the flowers or stars beforehand and include a nice surprise inside! Write a fun message or place a sticker in the middle of the flower or star. Your kids will love the anticipation as they wait for the flower or star to open up and reveal the surprise!
How to Make Paper Flowers Unfold
- Flowers and stars template (free!)
- Printer paper
- Markers/coloring pencils/crayons
- Plate, baking tray, or any container that can hold water
- Optional: Stickers
1. Print out the free flowers and stars template or draw them yourself on printer paper.
2. Color and design the flowers and stars. Place a sticker in the middle or write a message if you wish!
3. Fold the petals one by one toward the center.
4. Pour water in a plate or container of your choice.
5. Place the paper flower or star into the water with the petals side up.
6. Watch the petals open up!
My kids loved designing their own flowers and stars. I love watching how excited they get as they watch their creations unfold in the water.
We also had fun writing secret messages in paper stars. I prepared a few stars the day before for the kids to “bloom” in the water. They super excited to see what I wrote in the center of the stars!
The kids liked using stickers and exchanged the stars after they finished decorating. I loved watching their giggle when they see what stickers are in the middle of the stars!
Feel free to try different types of paper. You can try tissue paper, origami paper, or even construction paper. The thinner the paper, the faster the flowers will open up. We tried a thicker cardstock paper, and it took a very long time for the petals to unfold.
Science Behind the Blooming Paper Flowers
The paper flowers magically bloom in water due to a phenomenon called capillary action! You may be familiar with capillary action if you tried the walking water or growing rainbow experiment. If not, make sure you check them out!
Paper is made out of tiny wood fibers. There are small gaps or spaces between the wood fibers that form vessels where liquid or air may pass through.
Water molecules are “sticky,” meaning that they like to stay close together as well as adhere to other substances. When you place the paper flowers in the water, water molecules immediately stick to the walls of the vessels. It will continue to travel up the vessels and drag other water molecules along.
As the paper absorbs more and more water, the creases flatten out. As a result, the flower petals unfold and a super fun science experiment is born!
For more capillary action fun using coffee filters, check out: