Leaf rubbing is the perfect fall kids’ activity. Turn it into an art project with the added fun of watercolor crayon resist art.
Hello, I’m Keri. Over at my blog Backyard Summer Camp, you’ll find simple kids’ crafts to help you plan fun and easy activities at home with your family. In the autumn when leaves are falling, collect a few handfuls to do this leaf rubbing crayon resist art activity.
Leaf rubbing uses wax crayons to trace only the outline and the veins of the leaves. Crayon resist uses watercolor paints to create art; the paint won’t stick to the wax crayons.
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Turn this art activity into a family project that gets your kids excited about fall. You could collect leaves from your backyard, but for even more interactive fun, plan a family nature walk through a local park or around your neighborhood.
Collect leaves while you’re walking. It might spark a conversation about nature and the changing season.
After you’ve done the leaf rubbing and the crayon resist, there are lots of ways to use your finished artwork.
- Display your artwork in frames or the refrigerator door.
- Send kids’ artwork in the mail to family members.
- Use the paper to wrap a small gift.
- Fold the paper up to make a greeting card.
- Cut the paper into triangles and string them together to make a banner.
- Cut out individual leaves to decorate the dinner table.
How To Make Leaf Rubbing Art
Don’t be too worried about making your artwork look exactly like ours. Get messy and have fun creating!
What You Need:
Here’s what you’ll need from the store. The exact amounts are in the printable craft card at the bottom of this post.
Craft Tools Needed:
- Small glass of water for painting
- Real leaves collected from your yard or neighborhood
- Mixed media paper
- Black or dark colored crayons
- Watercolor paints and brush
Leaf Rubbing Craft Tips
Tip 1: Choose leaves that are still soft.
One of the fun parts of all the fall leaves on the ground is how they crunch under your feet. But for leaf rubbing, the ones that are too crunchy will just crumble. Look for leaves that still have a bit of color in them and don’t crunch in your hand.
If you’re having trouble finding good leaves on the ground, picking a few from a tree won’t hurt it. Just be sure you’re allowed to do so wherever you are (eg. Ask your neighbor in their yard. Check guidelines for city parks.)
Tip 2: Look for a variety of leaves.
The leaves in your backyard are probably all from the same type of tree. If you’re walking around, try to collect a variety of shapes and sizes. This will make your art more interesting and give kids a chance to test which ones transfer best.
If you’d like to know what kind of trees your leaves came from, look for a tree identification guide that’s specific to your state or area. The ones we used for this activity are beech, pecan, and black oak.
Tip 3: Make sure leaves are clean.
If you handed a toddler a bag for collecting leaves, odds are that they also picked up a handful of acorn, rocks, and maybe a bug. While you don’t need to wash the leaves with water, make sure you’re not bringing anything unwanted home with you!
Tip 4: Get all the kids involved.
This art activity is a great one to use as an invitation to create. Set up the supplies, then encourage kids of all ages to sit down and see what they can create. Leaf rubbing and resist art are activities that are fun for toddlers through teens – and even adults. Show them the basic techniques, then let them explore.
Little kids are working on coordination and fine motor skills. Older kids may focus on the colors they choose and more precise pressure. Teens often enjoy doing activities they haven’t done since they were little, but this is also a great activity for learning about the science behind wax resist.
Tip 5: Test different types of paper.
We created our leaf rubbing watercolor resist art with 140-lb. watercolor paper and regular computer printer paper. The watercolor paper was better for absorbing the paint and staying smooth. The computer paper got soggy and dried wrinkly, but showed much more detail from the leaves.
Leaf Rubbing Crayon Resist Art
- 5-15 Real leaves collected from your yard or neighborhood
- 1-2 pieces Mixed media paper per child
- 1 Black or dark colored crayon per child
- 1 kit Watercolor paints and brush per child
- 1 glass Water for painting
- Collect leaves in a variety of sizes and shapes.
- Place the leaves under the paper one at a time. Make sure the textured vein side of the leaf it toward the paper.
- Rub the side of a black crayon against the leaf to make the veins and outline show.
- Repeat to add as many leaves as you like to the paper.
- Set the leaves aside and use the watercolors to paint the leaf shapes. The paint won’t stick to the crayon lines.
- Let your artwork dry, then display it.
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If you liked this leaf rubbing crayon resist art, then be sure to check out Backyard Summer Camp for even more easy kids’ crafts.
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