Autumn is one of my favorite times of the year to do art projects with children. There is so much to explore! During a month of inspecting leaves we went on a lot of nature walks, learned about the seasons and different shaped leaves and leaf veins (learn more here). One of the projects the children could have done over and over again were Leaf Rubbings. It’s magical to see how the leaves and their texture appear on the paper and you can even make a game out of it by trying to match the leaves to their outlines. It’s such an easy project to set up and the children love it! Give it a try!
Step 1: Group Leaf Rubbing
We’ll do some magic today! Would you believe that you can figure out what’s under a paper without looking? Prepare a big group leaf rubbing paper ahead of time (we like this one): Tape a big paper on the floor, glue some leaves with different features on it and cover it all by taping another big paper on top. Peel the crayons, show the children how to hold them on their side and rub the crayons over the paper to reveal what’s underneath. The children were so excited to find all the leaves and lots of “Look, I’ve found one!”, “It’s real leaves under the paper!” and “Did we find them all?” could be heard.
Step 2: Leaf Game
During the leaf rubbing the children started to point out different features of the leaves; the outline, the stem, the different veins, which led to a simple, impromptu game. Set out a basket with leaves and, taking turns, let the children match each leaf to it’s counterpart on the paper.
Step 3: Individual Leaf Rubbing
Once finished with the group leaf rubbing, invite the children to the table to make their own leaf rubbings. Let them pick from an array of leaves and ask them to arrange their leaves with the veiny side up on their papers (we glued them down a bit: make a glue dot, then press the leaf into it). Help each child to cover their arrangement with another piece of paper that you’ll tape down to hold everything in place. Now start rubbing your crayons over the paper to reveal the shape and spine details of the leaves. The children were also delighted to discover that we can use different colors in one picture. Since they wanted to create more and more leaf rubbings this project was a good reminder that special projects might need some patience. Tip: Once the children arrange their leaves on the paper they can put a hand on their head to let you know that they’re ready for you to come over and tape down another paper on top so they can start their leaf rubbing.
Optional: Explore surface rubbing
The children had so much fun with the leaf rubbing that I’ve stapled simple sketchbooks for each child to go on a treasure hunt. We simply explores what other textures and surfaces we could find to make rubbings from – inside and outside. The children were very enthusiastic about that, kept running to new places to create a rubbing and shared or let each other guess where they made those rubbings. This was so much unexpected fun!