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Nature’s Autumn Art

September 18, 2017
By Robert and Libby Strong and Richard Pollack - SMART Science , OVParent

For those of us who live in a climate that experiences autumn, the leaves of trees become particularly beautiful. Leaves are the solar powered food factories of trees. In fall, the changing colors of leaves we see are the result of changes in temperature, amount of sunlight and other factors. Leaves have pigments, or materials that have particular colors. These leaf pigments can be brown, orange, yellow and even red. These pigments have been present all along in leaves but are usually overshadowed by the green chemical called chlorophyll used in the tree food-making process known as photosynthesis. When autumn arrives the plant stops making new chlorophyll, and the other pigments now become visible in the leaves.

What colors are found in the colorful fall leaves in your area? Do different kinds of trees have different leaf colors in the fall? Fall is a wonderful time to go for a walk with your parents to look at the fall leaf colors.

Many families make outings and trips to see the beautiful colors the leaves turn in the fall. These outings are called "leaf-peeping." To find the best sites in West Virginia, visit In Ohio, visit

Article Photos

Fall Colors, Gormania, W.Va.
Photo by Robert E. Strong

Long Lasting Leaves

If you want to enjoy the wonderful fall colors all year long, try this art project.

You will need:

Various colors of leaves

Glycerin (found in drug stores)


Shallow glass or plastic container with a lid (or you can use plastic wrap as a cover)


1. Collect a variety of leaves at their peak color and rinse them in cool water.

2. Mix 1 part glycerin and 2 parts hot water in the shallow container.

3. Place leaves in pan.

4. Push the leaves under the solution and cover completely.

5. Cover the container and place in a shaded area.

6. Check on the leaves every few days and replace solution if it begins to get clumpy.

7. When the leaves are evenly colored and flexible (this will take 2-3 weeks), remove from the glycerin and water solution and place on dry newspaper to dry them for one week.

After your beautiful fall leaves have become preserved, you can use them for many years in art projects at home and school.



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