Autumn, or Fall, is my favorite season. The weather is not scorching hot, but not freezing like the winter. Plus, the leaves turn from green to yellow, orange, red, and brown, and autumn foliage is just such a pretty sight.
Here in the hot desert of Arizona, we are definitely hoping that autumn will come sooner than later. At over 110 degrees Fahrenheit during the day and not dropping below 86 degrees at night, summer is brutal. In anticipation of cooler weather, we decided to make coffee filter fall leaves!
We used coffee filters to make gorgeous butterflies before. The kids remember how much fun they had watching the colors spread on the coffee filter, so they are super excited to do it again for this autumn leaves craft!
How to Make Coffee Filter Fall Leaves
- Coffee filters
- Fall leaves template
- Washable kid’s paint (yellow, red, and orange)
- Pipette or dropper
- Print out the Fall Leaves Template.
- Place a coffee filter over the leaf of your choice and use a pencil to trace the outline of the leaf. You can double up on the coffee filters and cut both at the same time if you wish.
- Place the leaf on a plate, a tray, or any surface you don’t mind getting paint on.
- Pour a little of the yellow, red, and orange paint in its own small container. Add a little bit of water and mix. A little paint goes a long way.
- Using a pipette or dropper, suck up a little bit of the diluted paint mixture and drop it onto the coffee filter.
- Repeat with whatever colors you would like your leaf to be. Feel free to drop colors on top of each other and watch the colors mix and spread!
- Leave the leaves to dry. I placed them on a cooling rack to speed up the drying.
Ta-da! Pretty autumn leaves! You can punch holes in them and string them up like a garland, or glue them onto some tree branches made out of brown construction paper. We decided to tape them on our windows to make pretty fall leaves suncatchers!
Why Do Leaves Change Colors in the Fall?
Leaves contain chlorophyll, which gives the leaves its vibrant green color. Chlorophyll absorbs energy from sunlight, and that energy helps convert carbon dioxide and water to carbohydrates for food.
Leaves also contain carotenoid, which creates bright yellow and orange colors that we see on carrots and bananas. During the spring and summer with plenty of sunlight, these colors are masked by the abundant amount of green coloring.
In the fall, because of the limited amount of sunlight during the day, some plants produce less and less chlorophyll. Eventually, they stop making chlorophyll all together. The carotenoid becomes more visible and hence the leaves turn yellow and orange.
Final Thoughts on Coffee Filter Autumn Leaves
Did you know the reason behind why leaves change colors in the fall? I didn’t until I did some research to teach my kids. How interesting that the leaves always had the yellow and orange colors in them but just covered by the green!
Also, we can’t forget why the colors spread out on the coffee filters when we drop colored water on them. Due to capillary action, water was able to travel through the vessels in the coffee filter, giving the coffee filters the pretty colors that resemble autumn leaves. You can learn more about capillary action with the growing rainbow experiment.
For more fun fall activities, check out: