a nature craft inspired by fall leaves


How to Make Beautiful Brushed Leaf Silhouettes

Oct 17, 2018

Fall has truly arrived, and while the leaves are still hanging tight to the branches of our trees, we’ve begun our annual tradition of making fall leaf crafts in my daycare.

Recently, the preschoolers made some beautiful painted leaf prints, and today the older kids are making another form of leaf art. We’re making brushed leaf silhouettes, using leaves from the trees and bushes in our yard.

I love incorporating natural items into our art activities. In today’s busy world, I believe it’s more important than ever to allow kids to get in touch with nature, get a little messy and to express themselves creatively through art.

You'll Also Love: Grab Those Fall Leaves For These Colourful Painted Prints

Our brushed leaf silhouettes encourage all of these things, which makes this activity a winner in my books.

Like our leaf prints, this art activity gives kids the opportunity to get outside and explore while they collect their leaves, and to examine the shapes and details of those leaves up close when they’re making their art. This project requires a little more co-ordination than the leaf prints, so of the two activities, this one is best for older kids.

My 7- to 12-year-olds all enjoyed making these leaf silhouettes. Anything that involves paint is always a hit and they especially like it when I provide dollar store canvases for them to work on. They love how authentic it makes their work look and it makes it easy for them to display their art on a wall or a shelf in their bedroom.

If you’d rather use paper for this project, go ahead! I would recommend a sturdy piece of card stock. If your child wants to put it on display, you can always pop it into a dollar store frame.

What You'll Need

  • dollar store canvas or paper 
  • a variety of leaves from outside
  • tempera paint or acrylic craft paint
  • paintbrushes

We started by painting background colours on our canvases.

Most of the kids chose fall colours for their backgrounds. Some blended their colours together, and some painted their colours in blocks. One little hooligan is crazy about rainbows, so she painted rainbow stripes on her canvas.

Any colour or combination of colours will work as long as it’s light or bright enough that the black leaf shapes will stand out.

When our canvases were dry, the children played around with the placement of their leaves, arranging and rearranging different shapes and sizes until they came up with an arrangement they liked.

To finish, they brushed black paint in an outward direction all around each leaf and then carefully lifted it away from the canvas to reveal their brushed leaf silhouette.

Article Author Jackie Currie
Jackie Currie

Read more from Jackie here.

Jackie Currie is a mother, daycare provider, and the creative spirit behind the blog Happy Hooligans. A self-proclaimed glitterphobe, she specializes in easy, affordable arts & crafts and good, old-fashioned play.