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.



Andy Goldsworthy Art in the Garden

Famous artist Andy Goldsworthy is fascinating. Our 5th graders were amazed at an artist who creates  and photographs art made from gathered leaves, mud, twigs, ice or rocks.

We began by viewing brief videos of Andy Goldsworthy on YouTube.

We discussed the repeating motifs in Mr. Goldsworthy’s work, including serpentine lines, spirals, and a circle with a hole in the center. We also looked at examples of stacked stone.

Students wend to the school garden and created temporary art works from materials found there.


A group of fifth graders worked together to make this dry-stacked rock arch.

Leaves arranged by color.

Early finishers made insect sculptures!


I took the photos initially, then turned over the camera to some early finishers who shot the rest of the photos.

Most students chose to work in pairs or groups for this project. Several said it was their favorite art project EVER! A few watched the YouTube videos again at home.

Next time you have good weather, consider an Andy Goldsworthy project.

iPad Alphabet Photography Collages

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Just finished the fourth grade iPad Alphabet photography collages.

I am thrilled with the results!

Our fourth graders shot color letter photos in our school garden, using camera-equipped iPads and iPod touches. I wrote about the first two days of this process in this post.


On Day 3, students brought iPads to the art room (note: make sure your tables are super clean!). Students partnered up to help each other during the photo selection and editing process. First they selected their single best photo. Using the basic photo edit in the device, the students cropped their photos, changed them to black and white, then saved to the device’s camera roll.

Next, students emailed me their best single b&w photos.

I used a Mac computer equipped with iPhoto to sort the photos. Whatever photo editing application you use, I highly suggest creating a folder for each letter.

To create the group collages, I used the free website Pic Monkey. It was easy to create a grid and upload the 26 letter photos for each collage. I even added a frame and text before saving the photo. Note: Pic Monkey requires Flash and cannot be used on an iPad. Also, if you use Pic Monkey, plan on filling that grid in one sitting as you cannot save work to the site.

I’m not going to lie – the whole process took a lot of time. I did the collages at home after hours. I am not a photographer, and there was a lot of trial and error.
I will teach it differently next time, specifically:

Model cropping,
Model saving as a black and white image,
Model emailing photos to me with a correct email address, and subject line including name, teacher and letter.

I will also seek alternate iPad apps for the students, and photo collage apps for me.

Have you taught a photo project using iPads? Please share!

UPDATE: DONE! I finished the iBook for this lesson plan. It contains all the alphabet photos and collages.

You need an iPad to read it. Here is the link




Check out this book on the iBookstore:

Cover Art

iPad Alphabet Photography

Rina Vinetz, Cara Spitzmiller & Angie Tremble

Category: Education

iPad Alphabet Photography for Fourth Grade

Armed with camera-equipped iPads and iPods, our fourth graders spread out in our school garden in search of alphabet letters. Each student was assigned a letter to photograph.

Letter O

It was interesting to see how they completed the assignment: some students found letters in the branches of trees, some created letters from stones and twigs. Some poured water on the pavement to draw their letter. If they were absolutely stumped (get it?) , I let them use a letter from the garden signs. I asked students to take 5-10 photos of their letter.

I am happy to report the fourth graders LOVED looking for letters. They were completely engaged, and helped each other.  I heard a lot of shouts of “I found a T! Who has T?”

This week, students used their devices and the Pic Collage app to turn their best photos into a photo collage. I asked them to zoom in so that we could really see the letter – aim for making a letter so clear a kindergartener could recognize it. They emailed me their files and we reviewed them as a class.

Great work fourth graders!

Our fourth graders are in a pilot 1:1 iPad program, and it is a huge success. The goal is to turn all the photos into a free digital book downloadable through Apple’s iBooks store.

Inspiration for this project came from www.alphabetphotography.com.

UPDATE: see the completed whole-alphabet collages in this post.

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