Monday, September 27, 2010

Kelly's Art Easel - Fall Leave Prints

This is a fun project that allows you to incorporate nature and art. It's a perfect fall project and gives your children (and you) a unique wearable (t-shirt) afterwards. This project can be done with children of any age. For the young ones, like mine, you might need to assist more. However for each age range, children can customize these shirts to their skills, even making cool collages, shapes and words with their nature art.

Fall Leave Prints


  • plastic baggies (for collecting leaves)
  • leaves
  • masking tape
  • large sheets of paper (place mat size is best)
  • acrylic paint (or similar paints for fabric/paper)
  • t-shirts
  • art smocks (or old shirts of daddy's)
  • small plates (or something else flat to put paint on for printing)

How to: We completed this project with our friends Elaina and Miles who are 2 and 1/2 (Rhys & Kyle are 2 yrs old).

We started by giving each child a plastic baggie and then we went and collected sticks and leaves from around the neighborhood. Flowers are great for this project as well, if you can find them! While we were walking, we named different things we saw and collected the items we wanted in our bags. We tried to only take things off the ground and not remove them from the trees.

Once we finished collecting, we brought them back where Shana (Elaina's and Miles' mom) and I had taped down large sheets of practice paper. We also had filled small plates (cake/dessert plates) with a small amount of acrylic paint that we spread out on the plate so it was flat. For this project, we spread out six different paint colors thinly onto six plates. Let your children put the used leaves into different colors, which will mix the paint nicely for cool color combinations. Once we had the paint ready, we showed the kids how to take a leaf, stick or flower and to dip it into the paint. The key is smearing the paint around the entire shape (of the object) as even as possible. Too much paint makes for a sloppy prints because it moves, just think about stamping with ink - the less ink, the better the print. Once our objects were covered, we pressed it onto the paper, having the kids help. They were amazed when we pealed it off to reveal the shape in paint on the paper. Our kids were able to mimic what we did with some help from us spreading out the paint on the shape and pressing it onto the paper. Of course, finger painting was added, which is fun and fine (and great for sensory)!

Once we "practiced" on the paper and the kids got the hang of it, we went to the t-shirts. I used Hane's t-shirts (which are currently buy 2 get one free at Hane'! Note: it does help to place a piece of cardboard inside the shirts so there's a firm background on which to press. I used the backs of old notebooks, and another idea is boxes (like a cereal box) cut to size. Once the shirts were prepped and ready, we used the same process as above to stamp the t-shirts with the leaves, sticks, flowers, etc. that we had collected. The kids enjoyed being creative with their t-shirt nature stamping. Note: the shirts will need at least 24 hours to dry before wear and I'd suggest 48 hours before washing.

Bonus craft: we loved the practice paper stamping pieces so much that we laminated them for great fall place mats!
Have fun and enjoy!

If you have any suggestions or requests for future Kelly's Art Easel columns, please comment below or email ( As well, if you have any art questions for yourself or your little ones, let me know!

Special thanks to Shana and her twins for trying this project with us! ;)


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