A few weeks ago we had our three year old help us pick out flowers to give to our friends when we ate dinner at their house. Being three, she was instantly lured to the artificially colored daisies in rainbow hues. She absolutely loved them and my husband being his ever informative self told her that they did not come that way naturally. Of course this new information sparked her ever present curiosity and we found ourselves promising her that we would make them ourselves some day soon. The day finally came last week and our daughter had a ton of fun making them.
We bought our flowers during our weekly Costco trip and used some of our larger mason jars for the food coloring. We just happened to be very low on yellow so we made red, orange, green, blue, purple and one with half the flower in red and the other half in blue (to teach the color wheel). I bought our food coloring at our local grocery store some time ago but you can also find it here although the price on Amazon seems absurdly high. I am pretty sure I paid under $2.00 for mine so check your local grocery store. There is no need for high quality food coloring here, but it would be another experiment to see if some of the gel food coloring would bring out more vibrant colors.
We filled our jars part way with water and cut off a few inches from the bottom of the flower stems. You should make sure they are a good height for your jars so they don’t tip over. We divided up three for each single color and one for the split color.
Added food coloring. My husband just squirted a bunch in there.
Here are what the colors looked like in the jars. The one second from the left is orange even though it looks pink. You can test your colors by dipping a paper towel in it to see what it will look like.
To make our dual color flower we carefully sliced the stem of one flower with a knife.
Next we pulled it apart a little. Not too much though or you will break off a piece. We then cut and pulled it until it would be steady in our glasses. We ran out of mason jars so we just used regular drinking glasses.
Place the split stems with one in each glass. Make sure they won’t pull each other over.
Once our flowers were in place we let them marinate.
Here is what they looked like after about two hours. You can just barely see some of the tint on some of them. A couple of the red flowers looked pinkish.
Another view of the blue. There was just a little on the tips of the petals.
Here is what our flowers look like after a few days. Our flowers were well watered prior to bringing them home so it might be another experiment to leave some out of water for a period of time and see if they soak up the dyed water more quickly.
If I had been on the ball this would have been a great way to introduce a scientific notebook to our daughter. Now some of you may be saying she is too young for that but it is important to introduce these concepts early. STEM is the focus of many schools’ curriculum and just exposing your kids to the terminology from a young age will give them a leg up when they start school. At the age of three I would write the steps to the scientific method with very simple explanations for each one and have her draw a picture of the experiment. I would also have her “write” some notes on it which she may or may not fully understand but again, it is important to expose them early. Even if your kids do not understand the concepts now, they will be setting the foundation for when they learn them in the future. This is very important. Too many times I hear parents telling me “well my child was asking about such and such but they are too young for that”. Take advantage of your child’s natural curiosity! If they are constantly being told they can’t do things eventually they will internalize it and it will be much harder when they are older to get them to try new things.
Some science questions to ask you kid while you are doing this experiment:
What do yo think will happen to the flowers when they are in the water?
How does the water travel up the flower’s stems?
How long do you think it will take for the dye to transfer to the petals?
What will the red/blue split flower look like when it is done?
What colors will form when you combine red and blue? Blue and yellow? Any other color combination?
Why does the color move to the flowers?
Do all flowers change color when you put them in dye?
What colors are in the rainbow?
Some books to read about flowers and colors:
We had a lot of fun making our rainbow daisies! I am excited for our future science experiments!