March 14, 2006

Irish Carnations

From our friends at Kid Crafts magazine.

Keeping with the St. Patrick's Day theme, here's another fun and creative way to make something with your kids for the green holiday. This is a really good experiment for children to learn about how plants absorb nutrients and food. Of course, you can make the carnations just about any color you want, but making them "Irish" carnations gives you a good excuse to play with flowers in the off season.

What you'll need:

  • White carnations (avoid the fancy ones)
  • Green food color
  • Water
  • Teaspoon sugar
  • Scissors
  • Container (to hold flowers)
What to do:
  1. Create the dye solution. Combine one ounce of food coloring with one pint of warm water and one teaspoon of sugar. Mix well and make sure the sugar is dissolved.
  2. Cut the tip of each carnation stem with the scissors. Having a fresh cut will ensure that the carnation can absorb the water.
  3. Put the fresh cut stems into the dye solution so that is covers about three inches of the stem.
  4. Set the carnations up out of the way so they won't be knocked down and wait for them to change color. It may take up to 24 hours for the colors to become vivid.
What Happened?
The age of your child or group of children will determine how much you can discuss this experiment with them. Some kids will just be happy and excited to see the colors change. Others will want to know exactly how it happened.

I'm sure you already know how it works, but just in case, here's the scoop. Most plants absorb or "drink" water and nutrients from the ground through their roots. The water travels up the stem of the plant into the leaves and flowers. The plant uses the water and nutrients to make food.

Obviously, when a flower is cut it no longer has it's roots. It still absorbs water through it's stem, however. When you put the food coloring into the water, the flower "drinks" up the dye along with the water, which changes the color of the carnation's flowers. By the way, RIT dye works really well to give a more brilliant color than food coloring.

Do you like this craft? Try out these Little Kid Crafts Books. I've found wonderful ideas and helpful solutions for those rainy days and long weekends. I highly recommend it! Click the books below to find out more.

Little Kid Crafts
Kids Crafts

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