If you are new to our site, take a minute to check out these posts to help take the stress out of the mess of creating with your kids!
- 5 Steps to Take the Stress Out of the Mess
- 10 Things You Need to Have for your Kids’ Art Projects
- Plan Ahead: The Secret to No Stress Fun with Your Kids
- Things you probably have at home:
- White paper – preferably something thicker
- Scotch tape
- Painter tape or Masking tape
- Things to buy: Schedule a remind 2 weeks before you want to do this activity to buy supplies
- Craft paint – orange, yellow, red, green
- 4 small spray bottles
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Ideal Age Range:
This is best for ages 3+
Medium messiness. You are spraying paint, so make sure to cover your table or work area (or work outside) and put a smock on your child.
About 15 minutes. The younger your child, the more prep you will need to do on your own. (See the note below about adding a nature walk activity to help you collect leaves – you could add part of the prep for the leaves into this activity.)
I love this project because it is a way to paint with kids who might not have the attention span to use brushes or other more intricate mediums. It also produces a really pretty finished product that you can save to decorate with from year to year! (Make sure to have your kids sign and date the back for memories.)
- Collect interesting shaped leaves and then press them in a heavy book for a few hours.
- Take a look at our suggested nature walk activity below that you can incorporate into your day (or the day before) to prep for this!
- Using painters or masking tape, tape the white paper to the table covering. This will help to keep the paper flat as it is being sprayed and will also create a nice border when the paint is dry and the tape is removed.
- Note that in the sample, I cut the paper to make a narrower picture frame for the leaves.
- Lay the leaves out in an interesting design, without overlapping.
- Use the scotch tape to make very small balls underneath the leaves to help them stick to the paper so they will not move as they are being sprayed.
- Pour a small amount of each color paint into each spray bottle, and add a small amount of water to thin out the paint, which will make it easier to spray. After securing the top of the bottles, shake gently to mix the paint and water together.
- Test the sprayer into your sink or on another piece of scrap paper to make sure it is spraying easily
- Spray one color at a time over the leaves. It is best to spray very lightly in small areas with each color, to avoid the colors bleeding together. (See a video)
- HELPFUL TIP: Have your child practice on a piece of scrap paper first. Try to encourage holding the sprayer a few inches away from the leaves to create a misting of color on the paper. If you spray too closely, it will create blobs, rather than the misting spray affect.
- Young children may need to hold the sprayer and squeeze with both hands. Have plain pieces of paper ready to experiment and spray while the paint is drying around the leaves.
- Allow the paint to set and dry for a little while.
- Once the paint is dry, gently remove each leaf. (See video)
- When the paint is completely dry, remove the painters/masking tape from the edges. Voila! (See video)
This is another great project to pair with other learning activities surrounding leaves. As the leaves are changing in many parts of the country, it is a great way to integrate a nature walk or scavenger hunt (see below), stories about leaves and art!
This project uses leaves that you collect, which is a great opportunity to integrate nature walk or scavenger hunt. You can do this earlier in the same day, or do it earlier in the week for smaller children and extend the conversation about leaves as a topic for the week.
If you do any of these outdoor activities, when you come back inside, have a heavy book ready and place the leaves inside to press (Step 1 above). This will save prep time before you start the craft project.
Nature Walk Tape Bracelet
Try this great idea from I Am Momma Hear Me Roar – create a bracelet by turning a large piece painters tape sticky side out and creating a bracelet. As you walk around (your backyard, your neighborhood, the woods), have your child collect leaves that they like.
Try to stick them gently to preserve the shape of the leaf when you remove it. (You should collect some back up leaves to have as well.)
Leaf Scavenger Hunt
You can grab free printables at Edventures with Kids so that you can hunt for leaves in varying shapes and colors as you are playing outside.
As an added bonus, if you want to add a math lesson into this check out this Leaf Graphing activity from Creative Tots Mason Preschoolers.
If you want to pin this project, please use the image below.