Why Do Pinecones Close in Water? Exploring Science and Nature Through Play

Unlocking Nature's Secrets: Place a pinecone in a bowl of water and watch closely as it does something incredible. What's happening? Let's uncover the magic together!

11/12/20232 min read


Preschoolers are naturally curious about the world around them, and what better way to nurture that curiosity than through hands-on learning experiences? Today, we're going to explore the world of pinecones and discover why they close up when placed in water.

Pinecones are the seed-bearing structures of pine trees. They are designed to protect the seeds inside and ensure their survival. One of the unique features of pinecones is their ability to respond to changes in their environment, such as moisture.

When a pinecone is exposed to water, it undergoes a fascinating transformation. The scales of the pinecone, which are normally open and spread out, begin to close up. This happens because the scales of the pinecone contain tiny cells that are sensitive to moisture. When these cells detect water, they absorb it and swell up, causing the scales to close tightly.

This closing mechanism serves an important purpose for the pinecone. By closing up in water, the pinecone is able to protect the seeds inside from getting too wet. Excess moisture can be harmful to the seeds, as it can cause them to rot or germinate prematurely. By closing up, the pinecone creates a barrier that helps keep the seeds safe and dry.


This simple experiment can be a great way to introduce preschoolers to the concept of cause and effect, as well as the scientific method. Start by gathering a few pinecones and a bowl of water. Encourage your little ones to make predictions about what will happen when the pinecones are placed in water. Then, let them observe and record their findings as the pinecones close up.


After the experiment, engage your preschoolers in a discussion about why they think the pinecones closed up. Encourage them to think about the role of moisture and how it affects living things. You can also extend the learning by exploring other examples of plants and animals that respond to changes in their environment.


Learning through play is a powerful way for preschoolers to develop their cognitive and scientific thinking skills. By incorporating nature and science into their playtime, we can foster a love for learning and a deeper understanding of the world around them.

🤎 Skills Children Learn through This Activity:

🔍 Observation Skills: Watching the pinecone's reaction to water helps children develop keen observation skills, a valuable tool for budding scientists.

🤔 Curiosity and Inquiry: Encouraging questions like "Why does it close?" fosters curiosity and a natural desire to explore and learn.

🌿 Nature Appreciation: This activity deepens a child's appreciation for the wonders of nature and how living things respond to their environment.

🌱 Cause and Effect: By witnessing the pinecone's reaction to water, children learn about cause and effect relationships, a fundamental scientific concept.

💬 Communication: Discussing their observations and questions with others promotes effective communication skills.

🤚 Fine Motor Skills: Handling the pinecones and placing them in water hones fine motor skills.

💭 Critical Thinking: Encouraging children to come up with their own ideas about why pinecones close stimulates critical thinking and problem-solving abilities.