• GrowNYC Education

Leaf Prints

A great activity we love in the Teaching Garden is leaf prints or leaf rubbings! This is done by first collecting leaves. A variety of different sized and shaped leaves is nice here to give options when creating the art. There are a few different ways to make this into a fun project for kids depending on how much time you have and your access to different leaves. First we will show you how to make a leaf rubbing, then we will highlight a few different ways to do leaf rubbings for folks with limited time and limited access to leaves, and for those with lots of time and lots of leaves!

How to make a leaf rubbing:

You will need:

  • Paper - the paper needs to be relatively thin. Most paper will work! If the paper is too thick, the leaf rubbing will not show through the page.

  • Colored pencils or crayons - pencils must be very sharp! The more surface area the better. If you use crayons I recommend taking off the paper and rubbing the crayon long ways on the paper.

  • Leaves - the more the merrier :)

1. Place your leaf on a hard surface, like a table or a book.

2. Cover your leaf with a piece of relatively thin paper.

3. Start rubbing the long edge of a crayon or a colored pencil at an angle on your paper over the leaf.

4. You will start to see the veins and patterns in the leaf come through on your paper! Ta-da you have a leaf print.

Here is a video to show you this process in real time.

Limited time, limited leaves: If you are super busy and don’t have time to get outside for a nature walk this can still be a fun craft activity! However, you will need to be able to find at least one leaf, houseplants will work fine!

This can be a one-off craft! Make just one leaf rubbing or create multiple leaf rubbings on one page to make some cool leaf art! Encourage your kids to use many different colors and make a piece of art that can hang on your fridge for years to come. Or you can make it into a postcard and send it to a family member or friend. The possibilities are endless.

Lots of time, lots of leaves: If you don’t know what to do with your kids and you are able to get outside for a walk this is a great way to teach about tree identification! This activity will also help kids become familiar with trees that grow in their neighborhood.

Take yourselves on a walk each day, and look for a different tree to take a leaf from. If you can find a leaf on the ground that will work well too but we want to see if we can figure out what tree this leaf came from. If you live in NYC, the parks department created an AMAZING resource where you can figure out the species of almost any tree. Just zoom into your neighborhood and learn about the trees growing on your street. Next start a notebook, or just make a new page every day where you create a leaf rubbing of the leaf you found and put the name of the tree on the page. You can even press the leaf you found in a book and once it’s flat and dried you can tape it to your page to save a piece of the real tree. Or you freehand draw (or trace if you are artistically challenged like I am) what the leaf looks like. As a bonus, you can research some facts about that tree and put those on your page as well. You can highlight identifying factors of the tree - how the bark looks, if there are flowers, acorns, or other unique things about this tree. If you are able to do this each day, you will soon have an amazing guide with leaf rubbings and information about many trees in your own neighborhood. This can also give your kids confidence to identify trees elsewhere! Click the arrow on the picture below to see a few examples of this!

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