Happy Fall! To celebrate the changing of the leaves, we have been making leaf rubbings all week. It’s fun to place a leaf under a sheet of paper and rub over it with a crayon to see the texture of the leaf. This gives you a great way to remember your leaf and see the veins inside that allow nutrients to flow to and from the leaf.

We also had fun extracting items from inside leaves. Our first step was to collect leaves. We tried to find a variety of colors, so we sorted them into the groups. Then we tore them up into a cup. We squashed ours with a spoon, but if you have a mortar and pestle you can use, this works great. Then we pored rubbing alcohol on top, with just enough to cover the leaves. You can let it rest there, and finish the rest in the morning. But we wanted our done a little quicker, so we carefully heated our cups. The best way to do this is to pour near boiling water around the cups and let the rubbing alcohol heat up a little. The goal isn’t to let the rubbing alcohol evaporate, but to increase the transference of the chemicals from inside the leaves.

Once things have cooled down, or the next morning, place a strip of coffee filter or paper towel with just the tip inside. Capillary action will pull the liquid up through the paper. Larger molecules will get stuck toward the bottom. You’ll see the colors spread out.

The greens in the leaf are the types of chlorophyll (blue-green and yellow-green). These help the leaf absorb sunlight and use it to change water and carbon dioxide into sugar and oxygen. The yellows are xanthophyll and the oranges are carotenoids. Reds are anthocyanin, the sugars that got trapped in the leaves.

Try it on your own to see what colors you can find.