When is the last time you climbed a tree? When is the last time you piled the leaves high only to knock them everywhere; or wondered why the leaves change colors this time of year? The latter is a question just posed to me as I chased my daughter down the path with the dog close behind. We had just stopped to pick up a big cattail, my daughter was excited to have it as her tail. Once off her bike, she couldn’t resist picking and poking through the grasses to see if she could find something else: “A ladybug, a piddle bug, anything!”
Foraging around a tree she asked, “Mom, why are the leaves forgetting to be green?” Only a child could ask the question just so, but I was left blue without an answer. I promised to “look it up” when we got home.
The answer, of course, lies in the magic of nature. According to scientist there are many environmental factors that cause shrubs, plants, and trees to change throughout the seasons but let’s simplify so kids will understand the story and be excited to go out and explore.
A leaf is a food source and is dependent on air, water, night, and the light of day. It uses Chlorophyll to survive. Chlorophyll is green and covers up the leaf – and any of its colors – when it is living.
In the fall, the days are shorter so the leaf can’t get as much food from the sun. When this happens the chlorophyll breaks down and the green disappears revealing a leaf’s true colors like red, yellow, orange, and brown. The magic of nature is a great lesson to share … followed by crunching, crackling, and tumbling. The fall leaves are here!