How Do Plants Absorb Water?

Turn your kids into little scientists by teaching them what happens when they water plants! Our fun project and printable observation sheet will allow them to learn and explore the workings of nature.

  • By Jess Dang
  • May 15, 2017

Summer is just around the corner, and we know that a lot of parents will need ways to keep their kids entertained while still learning and exercising their creativity.

But how do you keep your kids entertained without needing too many materials or making too much of a mess?

We’ve come up with some awesome activities for kids to help them learn more about food, and today’s #KidsFood experiment fits all the A+ project requirements – no mess, fun learning and you only need to buy a head of cabbage. (Even then, most of the cabbage can be turned into dinner afterwards!)

With this project, kids are going to observe and find out what happens when they water a plant. Where exactly does the water go?

Now get your kids in their lab coats, because it’s time to experiment with two very amazing things – food and colors!


  • Food Coloring – You can select any number of colors you want (and even mix your own custom colors). Just make sure you have 1 leaf of cabbage and 1 jar per color you select.
  • Napa Cabbage – You’ll need 1 leaf of cabbage for each color of food coloring you plan on using.
  • Glass Jar – You’ll need 1 glass jar for each color of food coloring you plan on using.
  • Dry Erase Marker (optional) – To mark the waterline on the jar.
  • Observation Sheet – We’ve created an observation sheet for you to print out and for kids to write their observations.
  • Pen / Pencil – You’ll need a writing instrument to record all your scientific findings!

Directions (For Kids)

  1. Fill each glass jar with ½ cup of water.
  2. Add food coloring to water. Use enough drops so that the water turns vibrant.
  3. Use your dry erase marker to make a mark at the top of the water.
  4. Add a leaf of napa cabbage to each glass.
  5. Follow the instructions on your Observation Sheet to record what you see at the time intervals suggested. You might want to have a parent help you set alarms so you don’t forget!
  6. At the end of the experiment, remove the cabbage leaf from the glass jar and make a new mark where the top of the water is. The difference shows you the amount of water that the cabbage leaf absorbed (though some of it disappeared because of evaporation too).

Now your kids (and you!) know what happens when a plant gets watered!

Watering plants wasn’t something we thought too much about before this experiment, so we were excited to see the results too. Check out our before and after here:

But of course, we’d love to see your kids’ experiment even more, so share their photos on Instagram or Pinterest with hashtag #KidsFood so we can find them!

Parents, you can also help reduce food waste by making sauteed rainbow cabbage. Rather than letting the cabbage leaves for the experiment go to waste, slice up the cabbage and saute together for a colorful side dish:


How to Saute Vegetables

Sauteing is a quick way to prepare and cook a wide variety of vegetables.

You can also put the rest of the non-rainbow napa cabbage to good use by making some of our favorite recipes, such as Cumin Beef Noodles or Tilapia Tacos with Cilantro Lime Slaw.

Lastly, if you’re looking for more playtime filled with learning for the kids, check out these other projects in our #KidsFood series here:


How to Make Fruit & Veggie Stamped Tea Towels

Add some meaning and color to your kitchen space with food stamped tea towels made by your kids. Read more.


How to Make Homemade Play Dough with Food Ingredients

Make homemade play dough with your kids for a fun activity, and give it a twist by using food ingredients… Read more.


What Foods Grow Mold?

We’re calling all little scientists for a food mold experiment! With our fun project, your kids will get a first… Read more.

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