Fun & Easy Fall Leaf Investigation Bottles

Nov 1, 2016

There are so many wonderful things to love about fall, but the season’s gorgeous colourful leaves have to be near the top of the list. They’re just so beautiful! It’s no wonder little ones always want to collect them when outdoors. Admittedly, the leaves my daughter collects often end up drying out and crumbling up on the floor of our vehicle or on our front porch, but this year we’re making a better effort to put them to good use and enjoy them a little longer. After making sweet and simple fall leaf crowns a couple of weeks ago, this week we created some super simple leaf investigation bottles.

Here’s what you’ll need to create a set of your own:

  • clear plastic bottles with lids
  • water
  • glycerine and a paintbrush (optional)
  • beautiful fall leaves

Alright, now let’s get started! Although making leaf investigation bottles is quite simple, the process is filled with steps that are great for little hands, so as always, I encourage you to let your little one do as much of the work as possible.

First off, make sure your colourful leaves are clean and dry.  My little one thought that giving the leaves a gentle bath in the sink was the funniest thing ever. 

You'll Also Love: Simple Fall Science Activity — Mini Pumpkin Investigation

Next let’s talk glycerine. While this step is optional, I do find that using it makes the leaves just a little bit heavier, which tends to cause them to sit nicer inside the bottles. This stuff is very readily available in the first aid section of most big grocery stores and can simply be painted onto both the front and back sides of your leaves.  As an added bonus, many people feel as though coating fall leaves in glycerine allows them to maintain their colour for longer, so there’s that too.

girl painting leaf with a paintbrush

Next, invite your little one to fill one of the plastic bottles all the way to the top with water.  We usually do this over a tray to avoid any huge spills, but it’s well worth it.  Not only is pouring an important life skill, but it also promotes hand-eye coordination, spatial awareness, self-regulation and critical thinking skills. Then have them gently roll up the leaf and place it into the bottle stem down.

photo of child dipping leaf into container

Secure the lid tightly (you could even glue them on if you wanted to) and then repeat the steps for the remaining leaves and bottles. That’s it! Once done, you have a lovely set of fall leaf investigation bottles.

leafs in bottles being displayed

The neat thing about these bottles is that the water magnifies all of the leaves' little features and details, making them perfect for nature lovers who are keen to learn about the world around them.  Use the leaf bottles to investigate leaf parts and create detailed diagrams.

child draws a picture of the leaf in the jar

Or add them to your fall nature shelf for little hands to explore.  If you’ve got a baby or toddler at home who puts everything in his mouth, these bottles are the perfect way to allow them to safely explore leaves without having to say ‘no’ again and again too.

photo of leaves in jars

Pro Tip: While these won’t last forever, enjoy them for several days and then compost the contents and head back outside to find some new fall treasures to put inside…  Evergreen branches, acorns, berries, pinecones, and twigs would all look absolutely lovely! 


Article Author Jen Kossowan
Jen Kossowan

See all of Jen's posts.

Jen is a teacher, blogger, and mama to a spirited little lady and a preemie baby boy. She's passionate about play, loves a good DIY project, adores travelling, and can often be found in the kitchen creating recipes that meet her crunchy mama criteria. You can follow Jen on her blog, Mama.Papa.Bubba, and on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram.

Add New Comment

To encourage thoughtful and respectful conversations, first and last names will appear with each submission to CBC/Radio-Canada's online communities (except in children and youth-oriented communities). Pseudonyms will no longer be permitted.

By submitting a comment, you accept that CBC has the right to reproduce and publish that comment in whole or in part, in any manner CBC chooses. Please note that CBC does not endorse the opinions expressed in comments. Comments on this story are moderated according to our Submission Guidelines. Comments are welcome while open. We reserve the right to close comments at any time.

Submission Policy

Note: The CBC does not necessarily endorse any of the views posted. By submitting your comments, you acknowledge that CBC has the right to reproduce, broadcast and publicize those comments or any part thereof in any manner whatsoever. Please note that comments are moderated and published according to our submission guidelines.