Time for Art: Leaf Rubbing

Our leaves started falling already… I swear I am surprised every year by how early I start to see the color change and leaves falling! I can’t say I mind I’m always eager for the cooler weather, the coming holidays and special times, and also the nostalgia of being the season that I fell in love with my husband and then had my first baby…

…Sorry, I didn’t mean to get so sappy…

If you love fall like me, or even if you don’t, take this chance to go on a nature walk or scavenger hunt of sorts, to search for falling leaves to use for an art rubbing. I like nature walks in the changing seasons- spring and fall- because there is soooo000 much to talk about! Weather changes, leaves changing and falling, and the animals are even busier- probably storing up food for the winter. Be on the look out for Mr. Squirrel in your backyard!

You could go on a walk in a park or at a nearby lake, or even just in your neighborhood! We just walked around our house and collected interesting leaves and talked about the changes we saw and collected some good leaves. We’ll definitely go on more nature walks this time of year to see how things have changed since the last one.

Once we were done exploring and ready for some art, I taped all of the leaves on the back to keep it easier to handle. Even though we did something similar a few weeks ago in the summer plan, I still reminded my son the best way to hold the crayon to see the imprint of the leaves coming through.

If your child is younger this is completely about experimentation. Experimenting with the crayon and what happens when they try to go over the paper. They might have some of the leaf imprint come through. The older your child is, the more they will grasp what is happening and what they can do to see the leaf shape. No matter their age make sure you are active along side them describing what you see happening, what leaves you see, and I even turned the page over occasionally to remind my son what the original leaf looked like.


Let’s talk more specifically about what is going on in this activity:

Art: There isn’t a ton of variation and creative expression to go on in this activity, like we look for in other art activities. But, this activity offers new experimentation with art materials, and it’s exciting because as each leaf is revealed it’s almost like a magical mystery is being unveiled to your child! I would recommend demonstrating how to do it, but then letting your child have freedom to explore.


Fine motor: This is a great way to change up the typical crayon or pencil hold to work those fine motor muscles. Try holding a pen how you usually would, and then turn it on it’s side like you would hold the crayon to do a rubbing. Do you feel the difference? It’s slight to us, but I believe it is beneficial to your little one’s developing muscles. Plus, it’s always fun to change things up and be a little different!


Communication: With toddlers and preschoolers no matter what the activity is communication is such a huge part. I don’t always talk about it because, well, you’d get sick of me talking about communication all of the times it could come up! But really capitalize on talking about what you see coming through as your child colors over the paper. Describe the leaves using descriptive language and connect it back to your child and his/her experiences, “That leaf is the narrow one we found in the front yard! Do you see the long stem and all of the veins in the leaf?” or “Now, the little red maple leaf is coming through on your paper. That is from the tree in the backyard by your swingset, the one that is losing all of it’s leaves.” Also, describe the process, “I see you are using the tip of your blue crayon to color. Try turning it back on it’s side so that we can see all of the leaves. See, like this. Oh look, now we are seeing the leaves on the back!” Through communicating what we see happening we are giving more meaning to the activity, increasing your child’s word bank (it will be growing in time, even if they aren’t using those words), and making the activity more interesting!


Happy Playing!



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