EXPLORING LEAVES – Printmaking, Line, Texture, Shape

Students create relief prints with leaves they have gathered while exploring the outdoors.

Required Time

60 Minutes

Grade Level

Pre-Kindergarten to Grade 1


Language Arts
Visual Arts



Crayola Construction Paper - 22.9 cm x 30.5 cm (9" x 12") Crayola Washable Project Paint - 10 Count Crayola Variety Brush Set - 5 Count Variety of Leaves

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EXPLORING LEAVES – Printmaking, Line, Texture, Shape - Step One

Step One

  1. Use the magnifying glass to look closely at all the different leaves.
  2. Be a leaf detective!
    - How many different leaves do you see?
    - How are they the same?
    - How are they different?
    - How do they feel?
    - How many veins can you feel?
    - What patterns do you see?
    - If we 
    paint the leaves to make a print, what part of the leaf do you think will print the best? Why?


EXPLORING LEAVES – Printmaking, Line, Texture, Shape - Step Two

Step Two

  1. Choose a leaf.
  2. Place it on a piece of newspaper.
  3. Brush paint over the whole leaf with a colour you like.
  4. Place the leaf, paint side down, on top of a piece of construction paper.
  5. Gently rub the back of the leaf to transfer the paint to the paper.
  6. Carefully lift the leaf off the paper.
  7. Repeat this process with different leaves and different colours.
EXPLORING LEAVES – Printmaking, Line, Texture, Shape - Step Three

Step Three

  1. Look at your print from a distance.
    - What do you see when you look at your print?
    - What shapes do you see?
    - What textures do you see?
    - What parts stand out the most? Why?
    - Who would love this print? Why?

Learning Goals

Students will be able to:

  • create relief prints with leaves;
  • work independently and self-regulate;
  • create personal responses to the centre materials;
  • share their ideas with peers;
  • demonstrate a sense of accomplishment.


Have students:

  • go on a nature walk in the fall;
  • make a tree friend they are going to observe throughout the school year;  
  • make visits to their trees during seasonal changes and note the changes their trees are going through; 
  • visit the trees at the beginning, middle and end of a season to note those changes as well;
  • keep a little journal about their trees;
  • share their work with others.   


  1. Prior to this lesson take your class on a nature walk and collect lots of different leaves. Pass the leaves around and ask students:
    - What tree do you think this leaf fell from? Why?
    - How are both sides of the leaf the same?
    - How are they different?
    - Does the leaf have a pattern? What is it?
  2. Gather, and make available, books about leaves, for example, Fall Leaves Fall, by Zoe Hall; Why Do Leaves Change Colour? by Betsy Maestro; Fall Leaves: Color and Crunchy, by Martha E. H. Rustad; Leaf Man, by Lois Ehlert; Red Leaf, Yellow Leaf, by Lois Ehlert; and We're Going on a Leaf Hunt, by Steve Metzger.
  3. Set up a printmaking centre with leaves, paintbrushes, construction paper, and washable paint. 


  1. ​​Conduct a read-aloud with a book such as We're Going on a Leaf Hunt, by Steve Metzger.
  2. Discuss and review the variety of leaves found on your walk.
  3. Introduce the leaf printmaking centre.
  4. Introduce the challenge.



The Challenge

  1. Use your own ideas to make prints with leaves.
  2. Share your ideas with others.
  3. Demonstrate technical accomplishment and creativity.

The Process

  1. Ensure that students understand the challenge.
  2. Establish success criteria with your students, for example,
    I know I am successful when I:
    - use my own ideas to make my prints
    - use different leaves to make my prints
    - use different colours to make my prints
    - look closely at real leaves
    - explain how I made my prints
  3. Demonstrate how to make a print.
  4. Guide students through the steps outlined in the lesson plan.
  5. Encourage students to look for lines and patterns created by the leaves.
  6. Observe students as they work.
  7. Provide individual assistance and encouragement.


  1. Gather students to share and discuss their art. Ask students to share:
    What they learned about looking closely at leaves.
    How they made their prints
    - What they learned about leaves.
    - What they learned about making prints.
    - What they like best about their pictures.
  2. Display all the prints in the classroom.
  3. Encourage students to view the prints and notice how they are the same, and how they are different.


  1. Observe students as they work – thoughtful focus, discriminating, seeking more information, elaborating, experimenting.
  2. Observe students as they discuss their prints – speaks with a clear voice, looks at audience while speaking, points to areas in the print, provides accurate information, answers questions from the audience effectively.
  3. Observe students as they listen – looks at presenter, asks effective questions, supports ideas with evidence found in the artwork.
  4. Use a checklist to track progress. (Download - Leaves_tracking.pdf)
  5. Have grade 1 students use the self-assessment form to evaluate their work. (Download - Leaves_self-assessment.pdf)