Skip to main content

Fascinating flowers

Add some magic to a popular gift with this colour-changing experiment.

You will need

  • Spoons
  • Scissors
  • Scrap paper
  • Pens or pencils
  • String
  • Jug
  • Hole punch
  • Clear glasses or bottles
  • White flowers (carnations work well)
  • Food colouring (reds and blues are best)

Before you begin

  • You may want to run this experiment as one of a few bases. If you’re running two or three experiments at the same time, put the equipment each needs on a table and make sure there’s an adult at each table.
  • You may want to make an example about a week before you do the activity, so everyone can see what will happen to the finished flowers.

Make the rainbow flowers

  1. Everyone should pour water into their glass or bottle until it’s almost full. They should hold the bottom of the glass or bottle to keep it steady – people could work in pairs to fill two bottles if that’s easier.
  2. The person leading the experiment should put on some protective gloves, add some food colouring into each bottle or glass, and shake it gently so it mixes. If there’s more than one colour, everyone should choose which colour they’d like in their bottle or glass. The person leading the experiment should make sure the colour is strong: they may need to add a bit more food colouring.
  3. An adult should help everyone cut the stem of a flower so it fits into the bottle or glass. Cutting the stem shorter will also mean more colour shows on the flower’s petals.
  4. Everyone should put their flower in their bottle and put it somewhere sunny or bright while they make their label.

Think of someone special

  1. Everyone should decide who they’ll give their fascinating flower to. It could be a parent or carer, a teacher, or a friend.
  2. Everyone should write a message on a piece of paper for the person they’re giving their flower to. They may want to explain why they chose them.
  3. Everyone should punch a hole in the corner of their message. They should wrap some string around their bottle or class to measure the length, then cut the string.
  4. Everyone should thread their string through the hole in their message and then tie it around the jar.

Give a fascinating flower

  1. Everyone should give their fascinating flower to the person they chose.
  2. Everyone should explain that the person will be treated to a flower than changes from white to the vibrant colour they chose. They’ll need to be patient; it won’t happen straight away.
  3. People may want to explain that this will happen because flower stems have little tubes (called capillaries) that the water travels up, an the colourful water will reach the petals.


This activity was a chance for everyone to develop skills and explore why drinking water is so important for plants and people. What happened when everyone put their plant in coloured water? The water travelled up through the stem to the flower. Living things need water to survive – everyone should think of a living thing that needs water, and tell a friend how it gets water. It could be a plant, a tree, an animal, or even a human.

This activity was also a chance for everyone to show someone they cared about them. Giving someone a gift is one way to show you care, especially if it comes with a personal and thoughtful message. Can anyone think of any exciting or special gifts they’ve been given? Some people may like to share them with everyone and explain why they were so important. Everyone should think about, and share, ideas of other ways to show people you care about them.


All activities must be safely managed. Use the safety checklist to help you plan and risk assess your activity. Do a risk assessment and take appropriate steps to reduce risk. Always get approval for the activity and have suitable supervision and an InTouch process.


Supervise young people, and only do science activities that are advised and age appropriate for your section. Test activities first, to make sure you’re confident you can lead them safely. Use protective clothing where necessary.


Check for allergies before you begin and read the guidance on food safety. Make sure you have suitable areas for storing and preparing food and avoid cross contamination of different foods.


Supervise young people appropriately when they’re using scissors. Store all sharp objects securely, out of the reach of young people.

Water games and activities

Be careful when doing activities with, in, or near water. Check surfaces and reduce the risk of slipping where possible. Make sure you have appropriate supervision for this activity.

Gardening and nature

Everyone must wash their hands after the activity has finished. Wear gloves if needed. Explain how to safely use equipment and set clear boundaries so everyone knows what’s allowed.

Make it accessible

All Scout activities should be inclusive and accessible.