My 4 year old has been learning about plants this week. I try to incorporate an experiment into every weekly lesson plan. This week I decided to use food coloring to show how plants get water to their leaves. I’ve seen flowers and lettuce used, but couldn’t find lettuce thin enough to fit in our containers or any white flowers. Celery seemed like I good idea, however, if you use celery, make sure it’s a very pale bunch. The celery we had to choose from was rather dark green and yellow unfortunately, so it was harder to see the results.
First, I gathered all the supplies we might need (or my daughter might ask for). If anything is left unsupervised for a few seconds, my toddler will sweep in and steal the show. Here’s the supplies I gathered:
- Lab Set (which I bought on Amazon: link)
- Food Coloring
- Plastic Cup (filled with water)
- 5 Celery Stalks (pre-cut)
This was a great experiment, because my 4 year old was actually able to do every step herself. She used the dropper to fill the containers with water, squeezed 1 drop of food coloring in each container, and picked the celery stalks up with the giant tweezers. I chose to have her do those things because I knew it would make the process more fun for her, but also to help strengthen her hand muscles. Writing is something she struggles with a bit, so I look for ways to help her work on those skills in everything we do.
After the celery was in place, I had my daughter make a hypothesis.
“The bottoms on the celery, the part in the water, will turn the same color as the color it’s in. The leaves will not change color.”
Then we waited for 2 days before she could really see any results.
We had to look closely to see that the color had spread to the leaves. I showed my daughter the small dots on the bottom of the celery and explained how plants get water all the way out to their leaves, fruit, and flowers.
All in all, it was a good experiment. We might do flowers next, if I can find some white ones for a decent price. Feel free to share a link to a similar experiment you have done. I’d love to see how this worked out for others.