Leaf ‘Collage’ + Photography

Want to try a leaf collage project? Want your leaves to stay fresh and bright forever? Skip the glue/wax paper/laminator and try a camera instead!

Third graders arranged leaves into animal shapes, then photographed their art. Allow one 40-minute class for this ‘collage’ lesson.

Third graders just completed their leaf collages, inspired by the book Look What I Did with a Leaf! by Morteza E. Sohi.

In the book, M. Sohi arranged leaves on a white background to create fanciful animals, then photographed them. Click here to see more examples.

To prepare for this lesson, you need to gather a variety of leaves and flatten them. I placed the leaves between the pages of an old phone book. Plan to do this at least a couple of days in advance so the leaves will be really flat. You can also ask kids to bring in leaves from home

On the day of class, cover tables with white paper to create a backdrop and spread out the leaves.

Cover tables with white paper to create a unified backdrop for the collages.

Students arranged the leaves to resemble animals.  Butterflies were very popular!

Student arranges a leaf butterfly.

We used camera-equipped iPods to photograph our artworks. Our third grade is 1:1 iPod Touch so each child was able to take photos of their own creations.

Students used camera-equipped iPods to photograph their collages.

Students then rearranged their leaves and repeated the process. Most of our third graders made 3-5 animals during the 40 minute class.

Third Grade Student Work:

Ashley’s alligator






One of the benefits of this method is that students can re-use and share leaves. Remind your students not to crumble the leaves, and you can reuse them for multiple classes. Students can work alone, in pairs or in groups – there is no argument over who takes the work home because everyone can have a digital copy of the work.

Next class we will learn to rotate and crop our photos, and how to email them.

Display options:

  • Upload to Artsonia
  • Email the images home, or put them up on the class wiki
  • Create a large class poster of all the images for the art show
  • Students can write a paragraph about their animals, or illustrate a story.

For further inspiration, check out the book Leaf Man by Lois Ehlert. The artist used real fallen leaves to create her illustrations.



Awesome Little Pencil Sharpener

How could something so small make such a big difference in the art room?

Foray manual pencil sharpener works great on large and small pencils and colored pencils.

I purchased seven of these Foray double-hole sharpeners, one for each of my tables. I used my electric sharpener to sharpen all the new pencils at the beginning of the school year. Guess how many times I have used my electric since? ZERO.

Foray double-hole manual sharpener.

All the kids ages 6 and older use the manual sharpeners! They put a nice sharp tip on our large pencils. They save my time, the students have more independence and the room is a little quieter.

AND they work well on colored pencils, much better than my electric pencil sharpeners.

Foray double-hole pencil sharpeners are available at Office Depot and maybe at an office supply near you.

Warm and Cool Color Fall Leaves

It’s fall – time for a fall leaf project! This lesson takes just two 40-minute sessions and covers:

  • warm and cool colors
  • stenciling
  • organic shapes
  • positive and negative space
  • symmetry


  • cardstock, cut into rectangles
  • pencils and erasers
  • scissors
  • white construction paper
  • oil pastels in warm colors (red, orange, yellow) (note: compensated affiliate link)
  • liquid watercolors in cool colors (purple, blue, green)
  • kosher salt (optional)

Leaf silhouettes


Session 1:

We looked at the silhouettes of fall leaves. We talked about the variety of leaf shapes. We discussed the difference between the organic leaf shapes and geometric shapes.

Next we created our stencils: students folded their cardstock, and drew a simple 1/2 leaf on the fold (note: don’t bother with a stem in your stencil design).

About 90% of second graders were able to design and cut a simple leaf stencil independently on their first attempt. As an alternative, you could cut stencils for your students.

Once we created the stencils we noticed they were symmetric. We also defined the leaf-shaped hole as the negative space and the leaf piece as the positive space.

Students stenciled multiple leaves . Some swapped stencils with their friends. After stenciling, they added a stem line to each leaf.

Paint leaves with cool color watercolors.

Session 2:

Students painted the leaves with liquid watercolors. They loved to see the oil pastel resist the paint. After painting, they had the option of sprinkling kosher salt on their wet art before placing their art on the drying rack.

Second grade results

Fall leaves with salt added.

Fall leaves with salt added.

The project was extremely successful. The students really enjoyed the process, and reviewed a lot of art concepts.

This lesson was inspired by  this post on Kids Art Market and this post on Use Your Colored Pencils.

Do you have a favorite fall leaves project?

Kindergarten Clay Handprints

Want to make clay handprints for a crowd but don’t have a slab roller? Save yourself some time –  get a multi-slab cutter.

The multi-slab clay cutter.

Multi-slab cutter easily slices a 25-lb. bag of clay into identical tiles.

Prep for the handprints was a breeze: cut the clay, smooth with damp sponge and print!  I added name and date with a wooden skewer. The tiles are not perfectly square so I gave some a quick trim with a metal-edged ruler.

Kindergarten handprints

The multi-slab cutter makes 24 tiles at once and is a HUGE time saver compared to rolling and cutting out each tile individually. If you don’t have a slab roller this is the way to go.

I will let these dry 7-10 days, then bisque fire. They should be glazed and ready to go in time for the holidays. Parents love them as a holiday gift.

I read about the multi-slab roller on Deep Space Sparkle and Mini Matisse. Thanks so much for the tip!

Fun Foam Prints: Quick and Easy!


Love printmaking? Try making your own stamps with self-adhesive fun foam stickers. It’s quick, easy, NEAT, inexpensive and 100% successful.


  • cardboard squares, 3″x3″
  • self-adhesive foam stickers in various shapes such as these
  • scissors
  • hole punches
  • water-based markers (we used Crayola)
  • water-based stamp pads
  • paper for printing (we used copy paper)

Design the stamp:

Students began by tracing their cardboard square three times on a sheet of copy paper. Then they arranged their foam pieces within the squares until they found a pleasing composition.

Students rearrange cut-up craft foam stickers until they find an arrangement they like. Don’t peel the stickers yet!

I had a random assortment of stickers on hand – letters, animals, stars, ovals….I encouraged the students to cut up/hole punch their stickers so that the stickers no longer resembled their original shapes. No letters or numbers allowed! Once they found a good arrangement, they peeled their stickers and stuck them on the cardboard squares.

Assignment 1: print with colored markers

Next students inked their stamps with Crayola markers and printed on a clean piece of paper.

Ink the foam with markers. Use a variety of colors.

Print! Then re-ink and print again. You go over the stamp with another color of ink for subsequent printings.

Inking plate with multiple colored markers allows students to make some beautiful color combinations.

Triceratops print.

Assignment 2: Radial design print

Place on dot in the center of a clean piece of paper. Flip stamp over to back and draw arrow on cardboard pointing to one corner.

Ink stamp with stamp pad. Print so arrow points to the center dot. Re-ink and print again, rotating stamp so arrow always points towards center dot.

Pac Man

Thumbs up!

Color radial print.

The galaxy.

So much fun! 100% of sixth graders had success with this project. I think third graders and older could succeed with this project.


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...