we help adults teach art to kids

Fall Leaves in Tissue Paper

Nothing is more beautiful than a tree emboldened with crimson and pumpkin colored leaves. In Santa Barbara, we have few trees that display this wonderful show but our imaginations make up for this lack of seasonal change.
I was inspired by Kathy’s art journal pages from Art Project for Kids and wondered how I could translate this lesson for my second grade class.
I found a perfect line drawing of fall leaves, cut some squares of red, orange, yellow, green (and yes, I’ll admit it…) purple and let my students enjoy the color of autumn.

6″ x 9″ white drawing paper
Tissue paper cut into 5″ x 5″ squares
Mixture of white glue and water
small paint brush
Black marker (waterproof is best)

Time: One 40-minute class

The Set-up

Step One: Tracing the Leaves

Step Two: Arrange the leaves on the paper and brush

Step Three: Smooth with the glue mixture

Step Four: Pick your next leaf and do it again!
Encourage overlapping!

The Results!
Tissue Paper Leaf Art Lesson Gallery



  1. Just lovely!

    Mama King

    September 25, 2009

  2. Hi there. I am an art teacher from South Africa and was wondering two things about your lessons. Firstly, why do you get your children to trace templates when they learn far more by observing the real thing? For example with your leaf lesson, why didn't you bring real leaves into the classroom for them to observe? Secondly why do you draw a picture onto the board and get your learners to copy the picture? Seems like you end up with everyone's picture being so similar and not much individuality expressed. You could use photographs and let your learners create their own response to the topic?
    You have such wonderful ideas, it would be great for everyone reading your blog to take their art teaching to a really meaningful level where children really express their own individuality and creativity. I would really like to hear your response to the above questions as I believe that if you are publishing something for so many educators to read, that you have to have the best teaching practice possible.


    September 25, 2009

    • In Minnesota, we have fall leaves but they don’t where Patty speaks. Also, I imagine she has an hour a week or less with each class. A classroom teacher could do what you are explaining but not a specialist.


      November 25, 2010

    • Gabby, it seems like you seem very bothered by Pattty’s style of teaching. Frankly , she is teaching over 500 students an art lesson and only has them for a very limited time. In a home room classroom, you can take more time to develop a lesson, teach a background on the artist, move into the history of the lesson and then advance on to teaching the art technique.
      For teachers like Patty and myself, who are not a full time Art teacher, we have exactly one hour or less to teach 500 plus students and art lesson that is a benefit to each child whether they are in Kinder , or 6th grade. We also teach the special needs children as well. In that time frame you must get those kids into the class get them seated, have all supplies ready and waiting, teach the lesson explain it to them in the simplest method and then proceed to demonstrate and teach the lesson.clean up and shuffle them out before the next class rolls in.
      Many times there is no available help as the teacher of those students will use this time to grade papers at the back of the classroom. so you are managing the entire class alone. there is not enough time to take the kids out to explore the different leaf patterns in nature.
      Many of us artists are so grateful for all the time Patty takes to develop these amazing lessons. She is honest and straight forward in presenting them for FREE to all of us. Not to mention she is raising a family,attending their sports and school events, and writing and illustrating a book and running not one but two websites. Oh and did I mention she also sells her fabulous art packets for only $5.00!
      Many of us here that follow and subscribe to Deep Space Sparkle would hope to inspire as many children as Patty does.
      We love you Patty , and thanks for all the amazing ideas you give us.


      September 26, 2011

      • Thank you for telling the reality of Art class. As a teacher of 800+ I find that time is the biggest issue, plus the fact of a seven day rotation which makes retention difficult. This site is a wonderful resource.

        Sharon Pletcher

        October 4, 2011

  3. Hi Patty!

    I love the leaf lesson, I'm a total color junkie and love the bold black lines and layered color effects.

    I sent you an email last night from my pink.green.98@verizon.net account and hope it didn't end up in your junk mail folder.

    Would love to hear back from you regarding my email and questions when you have a moment to spare.

    thanks so much!!
    MaryLea (pink and green mama)

    Pink & Green Mama

    September 26, 2009

  4. Hi Patty!

    I love the leaf lesson, I'm a total color junkie and love the bold black lines and layered color effects.

    I sent you an email last night from my pink.green.98@verizon.net account and hope it didn't end up in your junk mail folder.

    Would love to hear back from you regarding my email and questions when you have a moment to spare.

    thanks so much!!
    MaryLea (pink and green mama)

    Pink & Green Mama

    September 26, 2009

  5. Hi Gabby,
    Please feel free to interpret the lessons I post any way you wish. The purpose of this blog is not to force parents and teachers to teach art my way, but simple to give them ideas.
    Our school district has standards for second grade and cutting and pasting is one of them. There are many ways to teach this skill and this lesson just happened to be the way I chose.
    Not sure why you feel it's my responsibility to show all manners of teaching art…perhaps you could start your own blog and share your perspective?

    Patty P

    September 26, 2009

    • Well said. Your willingness to share with others is so appreciated!! Thank you from all who benefit from what you do.


      October 23, 2011

  6. Hi MaryLea,
    Yes, I just got your email and I'll definitely respond. I have lots to share!

    Patty P

    September 26, 2009

  7. I love your leaf project. I wonder if you could clarify some things for me though. Do you give the students individual leaf tracers that they trace on the white paper, or are the leafs already printed on the white paper. It looks like they're all on a piece of white paper, and the students take the tissue paper to trace and cut out and then glue on. I'm wondering how the tissue paper is so close in size and shape to the leaves. Sorry I have so many questions, but I would love to do this with my 2nd graders. Thanks in advance for any further instruction you can give me on this project.


    September 26, 2009

  8. Hi Deuce,
    Yes, you're right. The tissue paper is close in size to the leaf prints. I cut them about 5" x 5". I do this so their little hands can manipulate the tissue paper better and also to manage waste.
    You can go to the link provided to print out the leaf paper or use any leaf templates you might have.
    Also, make sure you mix the glue with water…the consistency is important so that the glue isn't too goopy.
    Good luck and let me know how it turns out!

    Patty P

    September 26, 2009

  9. Hi Patty! I'm a first year art teacher and just want to say your blog is really awesome for neat ideas. I've been inspired by your projects and I'm wanting to do the leaf project with my younger grades. I would like to try it on cream colored paper and perhaps, use a gold crayon/marker over some of the black outlines for highlights! Great activity for teaching warm/cool colors too! Thanks a million!


    September 27, 2009

  10. Love the gold crayon idea! Yum!

    Patty P

    September 27, 2009

  11. That is really cool! I love projects that are fall themed. I'll be linking.


    September 28, 2009

  12. I just found your blog and I love it! You have some terrific projects. thanks so much for sharing.

    Still Life With Coffee

    September 29, 2009

  13. Hello,
    Thank you for sharing your great projects.
    Pick up your Kreativ Blogger Award at my learning activity site: http://SMMARTideas.blogspot.com


    SMMART ideas

    September 30, 2009

  14. Patty thank you for giving us hectic art teacher different ideas. It is our creative choice the way we use them. I really do think we all change them up in our way. Thank you again. A true deep space sparkle fan!


    October 14, 2009

  15. Love it – so gorgeous!

    Deborah (Teach Preschool)

    September 30, 2010

  16. Purple is totally a fall leaf color!!!! When my 5yo son (in his most authoritative voice) listed "PURPLE" while talking about the color of fall leaves in class, his K teacher told him NO! Well, the next day he took in a forsythia leaf and basically said "i told you so:)" (or at least his mom did!)

    Momma Kate

    October 1, 2010

  17. Momma kate: So funny!
    Reminds me of a story when my friend's daughter was a kinder and was asked to draw a picture of her summer. Well, she had just visited my family in Prince Edward island where we have lots of starfish. When she colored her picture of a starfish purple, her teacher said, "Starfish aren't purple!". "Of course they are," she said. "Canada has tons of them!" And we do.

    Patty Palmer

    October 1, 2010

  18. Hi Patty,

    My kids love your website and I do to…we use it all the time! I was telling my kids about Santa Barbara and how you don’t have the leaves we do and they came up with the idea of sending you a bunch of colorful maple leaves. If you think your class would like this let me know and we will go on a leaf hunt and send you some “real” leaves…I would need an address to send them too. We still have some good color outside!

    -Joanne (from Massachusetts)


    October 26, 2010

  19. Just loved the art leaf project. My fourth -sixth graders who have not had alot of exposure to art, had great success with this project.


    November 5, 2010

  20. That’s SO weird…my kids (in 2 different 1st grade classes) came up with PURPLE as a typical fall leaf color, too!!!! Children really DO see the world with different eyes…Makes me wonder sometimes when things got so literal for me as an adult. Just go back and read the French classic “Le Petit Prince” (especially Chapter I). Thanks for such an inspirational website!


    October 13, 2011

  21. Hi,

    I was wondering what is Step Two (Cut out)?

    Mrs. F

    November 8, 2011

    • Hey…where did step 2 go? You figured it out though. just cut out the leaves.


      November 8, 2011

  22. Your website has been such a lifesaver for me! Your lessons are wonderful & the results are always fabulous. THANK YOU for taking the time to share all of your wonderful ideas with us VERY busy art teachers!

    Ann Bourque

    October 4, 2012

  23. You are an amzing, creative generous soul! I teach a bazillion kids art, too! Any short cuts ie templates are welcome! My rotations are 45 mins total, with the next group entering as the current grade lines up to leave! I love love love your lessons! Thank you!


    September 14, 2013

  24. I’m new to teaching art but been in teaching for 17 years. Love your site……thank you!
    I have 300+ students in 45 minute classes, some come twice a week. That’s a challenge
    to find relevant projects that are easy for me but engaging for them. The older classes
    are content with a coloring sheet, ugh! I’m determined to spark their creativity and DSS
    is a huge help. 😀


    October 16, 2013

  25. Hi Patty,
    Would u recommend that students cut all their leaves first and then glue? Is there an advantage to doing it one at time?


    October 25, 2013

    • The advantage is that the kids don’t have leaves flying away. Tissue paper is quite light! I’m not sure it matter either way though.

      Patty Palmer

      October 25, 2013

  26. Could this project work for first graders or kinders?

    Andrea Werboff

    November 16, 2016

    • Not really. Tissue paper is a bit delicate for little hands. Even the first graders were a bit too young. If you wanted to do something like this with Kinders, use regular paper instead of tissue. So much easier!

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