How Leaves Get Their Colors – A Child’s Perspective

  • by Sonya Shoptaugh ON October 16, 2012

    Autumn has arrived in the Hudson Valley and we are surrounded by astounding and ever changing beauty. Walking through a tapestry of color is a daily occurrence for us. Our feet crunch leaves that once were above us, and now fascinate us on the ground.

    One morning while on a walk with my daughter, I found myself curious to know her thinking about why the leaves change color. I asked her a question to begin the conversation, and felt the excitement of anticipation — I knew I was going to learn something interesting.

    Mama: So, how do you think these leaves change colors?

    AC: All these ones were healthy, but the greens ones weren’t healthy so the healthy ones change colors and the not healthy ones don’t change colors.

    Mama: I see. If the not healthy ones wanted to change colors, what would they do?

    AC: Because they are not taking vitamins every single day. They want them to take 12 a day. They are only taking 3 a day. They take the minerals kind of, of the air, minerals of the air.

    Mama: Oh! They take their minerals of the air vitamins. I understand. But where do these colors come from?

    AC: That is the color that the air is! The air’s color, we can’t see the air’s color so, they come on the leaves. The vitamins are different colors. The vitamins are what the colors the air, and then the air falls onto the leaves and that is what makes the leaves change colors. The air takes their vitamins every day and that changes the air and the air falls on the leaves, and that is what makes the leaves turn colors. The leaves fall because it is just Fall. Happy Fall!

    She began to dance in the leaves and I joined her, both of us taking delight in the crisp air and our conversation. After we got back from our walk, I invited her to draw her ideas, keeping cognitive and expressive languages as close and constant companions.

    How children construct theories is deeply intriguing. They weave together their observations, impressions, lived experiences, and their imagination, intelligence, ingenuity, and what they value. The process of developing hypotheses is most important, not the “accuracy” of them. By asking my daughter what she thinks, and taking her ideas seriously, she is learning her thoughts are valued, and her theories are worthy of being heard and merit consideration.

    If I had told her how leaves change color, the conversation would have been short lived and would not have been as welcoming for her participation and her perspective. The more we can give young children the chance to jump into questions, keeping the sense of wonder alive, the more we allow them to hold onto their love of discovery – a quality that connects them to their own learning and ways of knowing for a life time.

  • Comments(1)

    Would love to hear your thoughts! Please feel free to comment.
    • Gail Millward
      October 18, 2012 @ 10:57 pm

      Love your space, creativity, thoughtfulness and joy of being a Mother!

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