I look forward to doing this project every year. Anytime you take a real object, in this case, fresh leaves and apply paint to the underside, something magical happens.
For art teachers, we know that this form of print-making is a study of texture, shape, composition and space. But for kids, it’s just pure fun.
I created a few versions of this project and this one might be my favorite leaf stamp project.
I basically attempt the project in the very same way and gather the same supplies…
WHAT YOU’LL NEED:
– 12″ x 18″ colored sulphite paper (I’m using red and black)
– Liquid tempera paint in white, red, yellow, blue…whatever colors you love.
– Flat brush for applying paint to leaves
– Stack of recycled paper OR paper towels for pressing the painted leaf onto paper
– Assortment of fresh leaves (don’t wait for the leaves to turn colors…they tend to be brittle and will crack)
– Kitchen sponge cut into small pieces
Prepping for Project
Go on a hike with your students or look in your backyard for interesting lead shapes. You can also use feathers, reeds, pine needles…anything that has the potential to lay flat.
Place leaves in a ziplock bag to prevent drying out, especially if you aren’t doing the project the same day.
Cover your table or desks with a paper placemat, give each child a stack of paper towels or scrap paper, add a shared container of 3-4 colors of tempera paint and of course, the leaves.
Watch this video to see how to teach this project
I came across a new title this year, Counting Creatures by Julia Donaldson and Sharon KIng-Chair is a delightful picture book aimed at younger children. The story is for a younger set, but the illustrations are quite lovely and inspiring.
Art teachers can use the illustrations to demonstrate how the illustrator uses texture in her art.
There are many other books I absolutely love for fall, including:
Sweep by Loise Greig and Julie Sarda
Tree by Britta Techentrip
Tidy by Emily Gravett
Goodbye Summer, Hello Autumn by Kenard Pak
Do you have a favorite to share? Let me know in the comments below…
This project inevitably will be messy. That’s why it’s good to use a fresh sheet of scrap paper when painting onto a new leaf. Otherwise, the paint will get on the backside of the leaf, and then onto a child’s hand. That’s okay, but it can be a bit messy. You’ve been warned.
Using a paper towel to press the painted leaf onto the background is really much better than paper. Kids can feel the leaf under the paper much better and can press the leaf down more. It results in a better print.
The best part of this project is getting the kids’ past the first leaf print. This is when the magic happens. Kids start to mix their colors, experiment more and really get into the process.
That’s why I love this activity and encourage you to embrace the small amount of prep and mess to do this in your art room. It’s totally worth it and the prints are just lovely.
Have you done this project before? I’d love to see what your child or students created. Tag me on Instagram and I’ll share your results in our stories.
Love this! Great fall project!
Very nice , easy and creative.
This project is fantastic! I love watching my students discover the prints they can make with things they find outside. I did this one with G2 last year and they loved it. I found that high contrast colors worked great so kids could see the full print of the leaves with veins. We used sponges to apply the paint – which I would recommend.
Can’t wait to try this. We just did the castle project with sponge painting so we are prepared for another print – paint art making experience that is on the messy side. I also like the timing – here in the Midwest leaves have not started to change so we have lots of leaves ready to experiment with.
Beautiful! Could even be used for Painted Paper!
Amazing project to delight every student! I can’t wait to do this for Fall!
I loved the idea of Fall leaves project.
I’m neither an Art teacher nor teaching any kids privately now. But love to start on-line kids art class but no guts to start.
I understand this! In 2020 this project, among others, was presented at a library summer reading conference by a fabulous librarian. I knew that I had to start an art club at my library and decided to visit her club at her library. Slow forward to December 2021 (!) and I was able to visit. She told me about DSS and I finally branched out at work and had art club in the summer of 2022. It was fabulous! Sadly, I am now working at an academic library so this is not in the cards for this summer. However, I know I can do something, somewhere, sometime!
it was wonderful. i like it.
Excellent and interesting for kids, love it.
Thank you! I always used leaves that were drying out. No wonder the students prints NEVER worked. DUGH! Cannot wait to try with my students.
SU-PER-BE !!! Merci pour ces belles idees !
I love all of your projects… even for me to do. They are big bold bright and fun!! Thank you for sharing
Way too messy for classroom of 25 kids. Probably better with homeschooling
This was super fun! I did it with classrooms of 22+ kids, it was messy but totally doable! I left the painted leaves out so kids just kept painting over them, less cleanup between classes. Kids loved it! The next day we made wreaths with all of the dried painted leaves.
I am so happy to have found this sight. I am going to do this with my students. When we complete the project I will send a picture to you. Thank you for sharing your projects.
So I’m a volunteer art teacher for my son’s 1st grade and we tried this today. It was chaotic and there ended up being a lot of “he/she spilled water/painted on my paper!” or “he/she stole my paint brush!” so not sure how “successful” we were. They were also obsessed with the gold paint and ended up painting it on and demanding more gold paint, even though I encouraged dabbing (one kid kept saying “dab dab dab while he slathered it everywhere lol). Maybe better for older kids?
Sometimes it’s just the process of the experience that makes it worthwhile. They had fun. 🙂
Love it! It is a nice errorless idea that could work with my autistic students. Thanks! : )
I love all your projects.