Embracing Motherhood Fall Art Projects

6 Fall Leaf Art Activities

When I was researching a fall art project to do in my daughter Ruby’s 1st grade classroom, I came across all kinds of wonderful ideas to try. I found some that worked, many that didn’t, created some of my own, recalled the ones I liked to do as a child, and came up with a pretty good hodge podge of fall leaf art activities to choose from. I also wrote an article about why fall leaves change color if you want to check it out here.

1. Make a Tree

I chose this as the activity to do in my daughter’s classroom, and I even did a little mini-lesson on why leaves change color (link coming soon). It was so fun to channel my inner teacher, and the kids had a lot of fun with it too. It was fun to encourage the students to be creative and to think about ways that they could integrate art and nature at home. They were very excited to try these new ideas at home!

Tree Made Out of Leaves

Tree Made Out of Leaves

Materials

  • An assortment of different colored leaves
  • Large piece of paper
  • Glue
  • Brown crayon (or paint, or shredded brown leaves – for the trunk)

Directions

  1. Collect a variety of leaves. They can all be from one type of tree for a more uniform look, or you can collect leaves from a variety of different trees. *Note: Do not collect leaves, put them in a bag, store them for a week, and then try to use them. They will all be brown!  (I had to learn this the hard way!)
  2. Draw a trunk on a large piece of paper using crayon paint, or even cut up pieces of brown leaves.
  3. Using glue, add the leaves one layer at a time starting with the green on the bottom, then any yellow green, then yellow, then orange, then red, and then purple. I like layering them like this because this is the way I’ve noticed that trees typically change color. *It makes it a little easier if you can remove the stems. As an adult, I just used my fingernail to snap it off, but this was too hard for the kids so they just used scissors.
  4. Add a few brown leaves to the bottom of the paper.
  5. Lay flat to dry.
Making Leaf Trees in Ruby's Class

Making Leaf Trees in Ruby’s Class

2. Leaf Printing

This was one of the activities on Pinterest that looked MUCH better than what I could actually do, but I still think it turned out pretty cool. I really had a hard time deciding between this art project or the tree making project to do in my daughter’s classroom. I brought these examples along and the kids begged me to do this project next time I come in.

Red, Orange, Yellow, and Green Leaf Printing

Red, Orange, Yellow, and Green Leaf Printing

Rainbow Leaf Printing

Rainbow Leaf Printing

Materials

  • A few leaves of different shapes and sizes
  • Paint (I like using something like this.)
  • Large piece of paper
  • Paper plate

Directions

  1. Using a paper plate, squirt a $0.50 piece sized dollop of each color of paint around the paper plate.
  2. Dip the bottom of your leaf into the paint and then press onto the paper. *The first time you do it, it’s going to be a bit gloppy, but the more times you press it, the lighter and more detailed of an impression it will leave. If you really want to capture the shape of the leaf, gently press down on all parts of it with your hand.
  3. Layer the colors however you’d like. I went with a green, yellow, orange, and red motif.
  4. Add a few falling leaves and some leaves on the ground.
  5. Lay flat to dry.
  6. *To take this idea to the next level, you could create a template in the shape of say a butterfly for example, do the leaf printings over the top, and then remove the template for a really cool design.

3. Leaf Rubbing

I remember doing this activity when I was a kid! I remember being simply amazed at the amount of detail that came through. (I still am!) I had the kids in Ruby’s class who finished early make these leaf rubbings, and they LOVED it! They were shoving leaves in their backpacks so that they could go home and do this some more.

Leaf Rubbing

Leaf Rubbing

Materials

  • Peeled crayons, assorted colors
  • White paper
  • One or more leaves

Directions

  1. Gather at least one leaf or more for variety.
  2. Lay the leaf under the paper upside down (bumpy side up).
  3. Peel the paper off from a crayon and rub it sideways over the leaf.

4. Magnet Leaf Characters

This activity definitely took the most materials and preparation, but it should last for a really long time and provide many opportunities for imaginative play. My son Elliot loved helping me put the eyes on. (Notice the number of cyclops!) He keeps bringing them around the house and sticking them to doors, doorways, washers, dryers, refrigerators, and anything else he can find that’s magnetic!

Magnet Leaf Characters

Magnet Leaf Characters

Materials

  • An assortment of different colored leaves
  • Laminator (I use this.)
  • Laminating sheets (Something like these.)
  • Googly eyes (You can buy them in bulk here or you can get stick on ones here and skip the hole hot glue gun part.)
  • Magnet tape (Something like this.)
  • Hot glue gun. (I like this mini one.)
  • Glue gun sticks. (Here you go.)

Directions

  1. Take the stems off from the leaves, position them in the laminating pouches, and run them through the laminator. *Make sure there is plenty of room between each leaf so that you can leave a laminate border.

    Laminate Border for Leaf Magnets

    Laminate Border for Leaf Magnets

  2. To affix the googly eyes, you can just buy the stick on ones, you can use a hot glue gun, or you can use regular white glue. *If you use a hot glue gun, you’ll have to immediately hold the leaf upside down so that the little black part in the eye ball doesn’t get stuck to the bottom. It’s a little bit of a hassle, but it dries right away and will stay attached no matter what!
  3. Stick some magnet tape on the back.
  4. *You could also attach these to popsicle sticks to make little puppets. (Just like my popsicle stick figures!)

5. Stained Glass Leaves

This is my mother’s tried and true, one and only, fall leaf art project! I remember doing this all the time as a kid and now she has taught my children how to do it too! It’s a really fun and simple way to make some art with fall leaves.

Stained Glass Leaves

Stained Glass Leaves

Materials

  • An assortment of different colored leaves
  • Wax paper
  • Crayon pieces (save the scraps from a crayon sharpener)
  • Iron
  • Ironing board

Directions

  1. Collect a variety of leaves and remove the stems.
  2. Lay down a piece of wax paper and arrange some leaves on top of it.
  3. Sprinkle crayon pieces all over the leaves.
  4. Cover with another piece of wax paper.
  5. Set the iron to a medium-high setting, and quickly iron over the wax paper. The wax should stick together and the melted crayon pieces should really hold things together. *Before ironing, you might want to put down a protective layer over your ironing board, like a paper bag or something.
Crayon Sprinkles on Leaves and Wax Paper

Crayon Sprinkles on Leaves and Wax Paper

6. Open Ended Leaf Project

I think that having an open ended art project that lets children use their imaginations and creativity to do whatever they want is really the best. This works especially well after you’ve showed them a bunch of different techniques. By letting children follow their own intuitions about what looks beautiful and what is art, that is what being an artist is all about.

Stacking Leaves

Stacking Leaves

I would recommend gathering a big pile of leaves of assorted colors and shapes, and setting them out with an assortment of other supplies like glitter, glue, stickers, crayons, markers, pencils, cotton balls, yarn, and whatever else you can think of and let them go wild! They will probably have the most fun of all doing this!

Have fun with your fall leaves!!!

If you have a child who’s asking, “Why do the leaves turn different colors?” you’ll want to check out my blog: Why Do Leaves Change Color in the Fall?