Fall Leaf Prints


Leaf prints are a staple for 2nd grade art around this time of year. Where I teach in New Hampshire, the fall leaves are bright and inspiring! For this project I run out, about a half hour before class, and gather a bunch of these bright beauties.

What you need:

  • Leaves, of different shapes and sizes
  • Red, yellow, orange, blue and green tempera paint
  • Wide paint brushes
  • Black, 12×18″ construction paper
  • One long piece of paper towel per kid
  • Sponge brush

Let’s get started!

Step 1:

Place cups of red, orange, and yellow paint in the middle of each table, every color with its own paint brush. Give a piece of black paper and a paper towel per student as well as 5 or six leaves per table.

Step 2:

Begin this class with a discussion of warm and cool colors as we will be using both. I show some of Monet’s fall paintings and we discuss how these colors make the viewer feel.

Step 3:

I demonstrate how to figure out which side of the leaf you want to paint by feeling for veins. If you paint the smooth side by accident you will end up with a funny blob… Quickly paint your leaf with the colors you like. If you take too long your tempera paint will dry on the leaf.

Student Examples:



Once painted, lay the leaf where you want it on your black  paper. I instruct my students to fold their paper towel and lay it on the leaf. Hold the stem and smooth the leaf outward with a flat hand.


Peel up the leaf and hear the excited, “oooooo’s and ahhhhh’s”. The prints really are lovely and the paint dries even more vividly!



Once the paper is mostly full of leaves I give each table a tray of blue and green paint and a couple sponge brushes. I tell them they can use the brush to paint however they like, all I ask is that they try their best not to get paint on their lovely leaves.



I hope you and your students enjoy this fun lesson!