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Leaf Printing- Autumn Leaf Art for Children

Leaf printing autumn leaves.

Leaf Printing and painting with Autumn Leaves

In this post we will cover two different leaf printing ideas for preschoolers. Leaf printing is similar to leaf rubbing, but I prefer it to leaf printing as I find it more visually appealing. It is also great for emphasizing the features and details of leaves. It helps to highlight the size, the shape e.g. linear (ex bamboo leaf), palmately lobed (ex maple leaf), etc., the edging, also known as margins e.g. serrated, smooth [entire], lobed, etc. and the placement of the midrib and veins (Britannica, 2019).

See my post on Autumn Leaf Activities for more autumn and leaf themed activities.

The leaves for leaf printing must be somewhat freshly fallen. Dried out leaves won’t work as they need to be able to bend it. Brush on a very thin layer of paint if you want to be able to see all the fine details of the leaf.

It is also possible to make a ‘leaf void’ print. I like the ‘void’ leaf that is created by painting on the backs of the leaves you are printing. This can be quite artistic looking as well. To do this, paint over a leaf on a piece of paper making sure that you cover the paper on the edges all around the leaf. When you lift up the leaf it will be blank where the leaf was and outlined by strokes of paint.

What you need for leaf printing

  • Paper
  • Paint (Older & sensible children can use acrylic which looks really nice but poster paint also works well for younger children who might get it on themselves or other things)
  • Fresh leaves
  • Plate or tray to put paint on
  • Paint brushes

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Questions to ask

  • What do you notice about your leaves?
  • How is that leaf similar to the other one? (You can draw attention to the similarities such as the leaves have veins, stems etc.)
  • How is that leaf different from that one? (You can draw attention to differences in shape, size, edges, etc.)
  • What colour/colours do you see?
  • What happens when you mix those colours?

What they get from leaf printing

This is a fun art activity where children can explore using paint to print natural objects. It allows them to explore how printing works, and also gives the opportunity to experiment with mixing colours. In addition, children the chance to examine the finer details of leaves in the process of printing. It is an opportunity for them to compare the similarities and differences between leaves.

Take it further

There are many art and learning opportunities for children to enjoy using leaves! Please see my post Autumn Leaf Activities for more autumn and leaf themed activities.

Once children have had plenty of opportunity to explore leaves they can begin to sort and categorise them. They can do this in a variety of different ways including ordering them by size, using a Venn Diagram or using a Pictograph.


The Editors of Encyclopaedia Britannica (29 August 2019). Leaf, Plant Anatomy.

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