As the weather grows colder and the leaves fall from the trees, your warm weather after-school activities might need to be spiced up a little bit. We’ve rounded up five fun, hands-on science experiments perfect for autumn afternoons. The weather may be cooling off, but inside your house, a chemical reaction will keep things toasty! Read on to see them all.

photo: Little Bins for Little Hands

1. An Epic Pumpkin Explosion
Grab a few mini pumpkins for a fall twist on the popular volcano experiment. Though this activity is a little on the messy side, it’s a guaranteed crowd pleaser. Get all the directions at Little Bins for Little Hands.

photo: Oz Spies

2. Changing Colors
Explore the beauty of autumn colors with this multi-step experiment. Start right after school by gathering a few leaves from a tree you pass by on the way home from the bus stop. Crush those leaves up with a bit of rubbing alcohol. Set your mixture up with a coffee filter draped inside of it, and let it all sit for a bit. Then, check out the awe-inspiring evidence of fall color changes on the filter strips after dinner time. Want the textbook explanation? Go over to How We Learn and find all the directions for the Why Do Leaves Change Color? science experiment.

photo: Asia Citro via Fun at Home with Kids

3. Pumpkin Spiced Science
Can’t get enough pumpkin spice in your life? Try out this project from expert blogger Fun at Home With Kids, which shows you how to make homemade whipped paints that are safe to eat. Preschool and kindergarten science often overlap with sensory play, and this delicious-smelling paint gives kids the chance to see what happens when they mix colors, explore different textures, and use all of their senses. It’s art and science rolled up in one. Find out how you can do this experiment at home, and the key ingredient you’ll need to find in the freezer aisle by clicking here.

photo: Mama Papa Bubba

4. Apple Taste Test
Take advantage of apple season with some simple, edible science and learn about the way the tongue reacts to different flavors, and what our senses tell us about taste. Get a how-to from Mama Papa Bubba and then get crunching! 

photo: Lemon Lime Adventures 

5. Building Candy Structures
Why not take some time to transform your kitchen table into a feat of engineering, all in one autumn afternoon? You’ll learn about weight distribution and balance, plus you can go ahead and get that bag of mini pumpkin candies you’ve been eyeballing since late summer. Learn how to do it at Lemon and Lime Adventures.

photo: Allison Sonnier via Learn Play Imagine

6.Glow-in-the-Dark Magic
Cool fall days call for spooky experiments in the dark. This one requires a little bit of time and some supplies, but the oohs and ahhs elicited when the lights go out make the prep worth it! Find out what you need and get the instructions at Learn Play Imagine (plus a link to an explanation of how surface tension makes this experiment possible!).

photo: Oakley Originals via Flickr

7. Oil and Water Don’t Mix
This experiment in density shows just how true that old adage is, as kids will see for themselves when they use pipettes to drip water into baby oil. Your kids will be amazed as tiny droplets magically float inside of a cup. To make the most of the season, use food coloring that mimics the shades of the changing leaves—think bright yellow, burnt orange, and rich red. Go over to The Science Kiddo for all the directions, plus a free printable science journal page.

What are your favorite fall experiments? Share with us in a Comment below!

— Oz Spies & Amber Guetebier