Does your preschooler love surprises? Mine sure does! This simple STEM project is a fun science and art activity in one. Children will beg to watch their handmade paper flowers magically unfold over and over again!
To make our magic blooming flower, we first needed to gather a few supplies:
- Squares of paper. They can be any size square and any kind of paper. Having an assortment of different weights/thicknesses is ideal so you can observe how they each unfold differently. We made our squares 3 x 3 inches.
- Bowl of Water
I had my kids fold the square paper in half one way and then in half the other way. I helped them draw a petal shape outward from the folded corner, then we cut around the shape to make the petals.
When we unfolded the paper we had a beautiful flower! The kids placed a sticker in the center.
Once the sticker was in place, we folded the tip of each petal to the middle point so that the sticker was hidden.
We placed our folded paper flower gently in a bowl of water and waited for the magic to happen. My kids squealed with anticipation!
After a short wait, we watched as the paper flower slowly began unfolding. As it bloomed, my daughter noticed the sticker in the middle and was delighted with the surprise!
We repeated this activity with various kinds of paper of different thicknesses. We found that a tissue paper flower springs open almost instantly while a flower made of heavy paper like cardstock takes a little while to slowly bloom.
The Science Behind It
Your children will be delighted to watch their flowers “magically” unfold in water to reveal colorful stickers inside. But is it really magic? Of course not – it’s science!
Paper is made up of small fibers. When these fibers absorb water, they swell up and the paper expands. This makes the creases flatten out, which in turn makes the flower open.
Different types of paper soak up water at different speeds. This explains why a tissue paper flower opens almost immediately on contact with water while a cardstock flower may take a minute or so to slowly blossom.
Experiment with several different kinds of paper to see for yourself!
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