This a great time of year to make leaf prints! Leaves of different shapes and sizes are all around us, and printing with leaves produces unique and beautiful designs.
This activity can be adapted for all ages! Let younger children just enjoy the fun of printing and creating. That’s good for older children, too, and may lead to lots of fun experimenting. Or you may want to eventually encourage older children to experiment with more or less paint and to create patterns.
Don’t miss the 2 sections at the end of this lesson that show how art learning can extend into other areas:
- 5 ways this art lesson helps your children in other areas of learning:
- this art lesson can help point your children to see God’s creativity and care for creation:
- Paper in any colors, sizes or types (this is a good activity to use up some of the odd pieces you have)
- Tempera paint in various colors
- Containers to hold small amounts of paint and for mixing paint
- Paintbrushes (larger flat ones work best)
- Lots of fresh leaves of various types
- Paper towels for clean up and to put under leaves as you paint them
- Get your work surface, paints, and papers ready
- Go out and gather lots of different leaves ( be sure and ask permission and be sure none are poisonous)
- Place a leaf upside down ( with veins facing up) on a piece of scrap paper or paper towel
- Paint a thin layer of paint over it (be gentle so you don’t tear the leaf)
- Place the leaf paint side down on your good paper and press it flat with your hand or with scrap papers on top of it
- Press, don’t rub, or the print will be blurred
- If you make another print or two before adding more paint, the image will get more delicate looking.
- If you have trouble lifting the leaf up, slide a plastic knife under one edge so you can get hold of the leaf
- Leaves are reusable for a time so put them aside to reuse (it would be helpful to have an old cookie sheet or plastic cutting board to keep used leaves on)
- This project can be a little messy so have plenty of paper towels or rags for wiping fingers!
- If it’s not windy, this is a great project for outside (the leaves are right there for the picking and you have God’s beautiful creation all around while you have fun)
- Do this project again in the fall (before the leaves get dried) with fall colors
- Experiment with how much paint and how much pressure make the prints you like the best.
- Make patterns by alternating different types of leaves or colors
- Get some large papers and print leaves of various colors and types all over it to use for wrapping paper
- Spatter paint over leaves for a special effect
How this art lesson can help your children in other areas of learning:
- This art activity is especially good to help children learn to distinguish shapes, which develops visual/spatial skills and how to understand and use visual information—important in learning to interpret photos, graphs, maps, etc.
- Making patterns enhances sequencing skills, which is valuable in so many areas, such as math
- As with many art activities, this one aids in small muscle development
- Discussing their choices as they work aids in vocabulary and conversational skills. As you look at the different leaves, encourage children to use lots of descriptive words for the different shapes and colors of the leaves. Help increase their vocabulary with new descriptive words.
- Make a game of naming all the animals you can think of that eat plants
How this art lesson can help point your children to God:
- Read together Genesis 1:1-26 about God’s creation of the earth and all it contains.
- While gathering and sorting different leaves, discuss the great variety of shapes and colors God has created.
- Extend the discussion to include other things of the natural world, their colors, shapes, sizes, beauty.
- Help your children notice the veins in the leaves when you turn them over. Once you’ve applied paint and printed a leaf once, the print and the paint left on the leaf really make the veins stand out. Notice how the veins branch out to every part of the leaf.
- Ask your child what the veins are for. Help them see how God cares for each plant, providing a way for it to make food for it to grow. (you might go online as I did to refresh your memory about the process of photosynthesis!!)
- Lastly, discuss how God, in His wisdom, created the sun and plants and the process of photosynthesis to feed so many creatures.
- After the prints are dry, choose some as the background to write out a verse from Genesis 1:11-13
This art project can be a little messy because you have to hold the leaves as you paint them and pick them up. So Molly needed a bath after this project. She really doesn’t mind, and afterwards she sat near some plants and admired their leaves as she dried!!
Now that summer is here, Molly and I are going on a summer schedule of posting a little less often (every 2nd and 4th Friday. So our next post should be on June 26th). We hope you’ll join us those days for more Fun and Easy Art Activities for Creative Kids!