Tissue paper leaves

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 cut some squares of red, orange, yellow, green (and yes, I’ll admit it…) purple tissue [paper 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

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  • Mama King

    Just lovely!

  • Gabby

    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.

    • Carolyn

      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.

    • Robin

      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.

      • Sharon Pletcher

        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.

  • Pink & Green Mama

    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

    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)

  • Patty P

    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?

    • Gretchen

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

  • Patty P

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

  • ONe PiNK FiSH

    Feel free to stop by my blog to pick up a blogging award. You deserve it!


  • deuce

    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.

  • Patty P

    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!

    • KSue

      Where is the link for the leaf tracer, please?

      • Patty

        I don’t have a link. I googled leaves and found this set.

  • Ms.AutumnLane

    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!

  • Patty P

    Love the gold crayon idea! Yum!

  • Rachel@oneprettything.com

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

  • Still Life With Coffee

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

  • SMMART ideas

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


  • teebo

    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!

  • rosy

    You have a really informative website. pls continue sharing. 😉
    Web business model

  • Deborah (Teach Preschool)

    Love it – so gorgeous!

  • Momma Kate

    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!)

  • Patty Palmer

    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.

  • Joanne

    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)

  • Cassandra

    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.

  • Jenn

    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!

  • Mrs. F


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

    • Patty

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

  • Bonita

    Just letting you know that I linked to this post in a unit study I wrote about autumn leaves: http://www.zujava.com/leaf-study

  • Ann Bourque

    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!

  • MzMardi

    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!

  • Jennifer

    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. 😀

  • Karma.gandi@gmail.com

    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?

    • Patty Palmer

      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.

  • Andrea Werboff

    Could this project work for first graders or kinders?

    • patty.palmer@deepspacesparkle.com

      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!

  • Kari Bertrand

    The link for the template of leaves doesn’t work, can you repost? I’d love to use it.

    Thank you!

  • Specialty Wraps

    Great Work!!! Thanks for sharing this beautiful idea about tissue papers.

  • Carol

    won’t download.

    • Bethany

      Hi Carol I’m sorry you weren’t able to download the Fall Leaves lesson. I tested the link and it worked. You should first test your spam folder to see if the email went there. If you don’t see it there contact support@deepspacesparkle and we can email it to you. I hope that helps!

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