Autumn leaf prints

Natural art in the outdoors

Explore shapes, colours and types of leaves with this easy-to-set-up art activity that capitalises on nature your children can find right in the outdoor area. Highly versatile in its simplicity, the entire project can take place outdoors, or it can be set up in the indoor art area – bringing nature into the classroom.

Materials needed:

  • Paper
  • Thick felt-tipped pens in a variety of colours
  • Freshly picked leaves

Instructions:

  1. Take a walk around your outdoor area, collecting leaves as you go. Look for sturdy ones with a strong vein structure on their underside. Use this opportunity to identify and talk about different leaf types and ask children about the shapes they see – e.g. a birch leaf is pointed at the top, almost like a triangle with a round bottom, or a maple leaf has 5 points, just like the 5 fingers on your hand.
    boy in hat holding autumn leaves
  2. Set up paper, felt-tipped pens and leaves at a table or other flat surface.
    paper, leaves, felt pens on table
  3. Colour the entire back (veined side) of the leaf using thick felt-tipped pens. (Hint: place a piece of scrap paper underneath so that the child can colour all the way to the edges of the leaf).
    child‘s hands colouring leaf
  4. Quickly, while the ink is still very wet, turn the leaf over onto a piece of white or light coloured paper. Holding the leaf firmly so it does not move, gently rub or press to transfer the colour onto the paper. (Older children can manage this on their own, but an adult may have to assist younger children with this step.)
    child‘s hands pressing leaf onto paper
  5. Continue, using different shaped leaves and colours to create a beautiful collage of leaf prints.
    Autumn leaf prints on paper with child’s hands

Do your children need to romp around for a while after concentrating on this project? Let them collect as many leaves as they can, heaping them up into a big pile. Running a short distance and jumping into the leaf pile (one at a time, of course) will send the leaves flying and bring squeals of delight!

children making leaf pile