Leaf rubbing is an active way to observe nature with children and achieve a lasting impression of the variety present in nature.
It is especially interesting to children age 4 and up. Younger children can certainly collect and study the different leaves, but they may not have the control to maneuver crayons for rubbing.
Adults should give it a go and have fun experimenting before presenting it to the child. After the initial experience they can work side-by-side with the child demonstrating the technique. It can be a fun group activity.
What is leaf rubbing?
Allow the children to carefully take leaves from bushes, trees and plants in the garden, and bring back a variety of fresh leaves to sort.
The first aim is to study the different shapes and their particular characteristics.
After some time suggest that the children could make images of leaves by rubbing them in a certain way.
Let them know you are going to demonstrate the process.
- Several sheets of paper
- Large crayons in diferent colour
The Process –
- Work on a flat smooth surface.
- One leaf per sheet of paper.
- First choose the leaf that appeals to you.
- Place the leaf flat on the paper, underside of the leaf facing up.
- Allow the child to arrange the leaves on the paper.
- Secure the leaf to the paper with a small strip of sticky tape (optional).
- Place a sheet of paper over the leaf.
- Choose a crayon of any colour.
- Hold the crayon horizontally and rub in the area where the leaf is located.
- When the image appears clearly, stop rubbing.
- Invite the child to try while helping to achieve a result that pleases him.
- You can also prepare a second sheet where you can collate a variety of leaf images.
How to extend the activity – Use watercolour paint and a soft brush. Prepare a diluted and transparent watercolour wash and paint over the whole leaf rubbing or part of it.
- Name the parts of a leaf.
- Talk about where the leaf came from and name trees and plants that are familiar.
- Discuss the colour of leaves.
- Make labels to identify the leaves.
- Make books about leaves.
- Talk about how we use leaves, e.g. perfumed leaves, tea leaves, herb leaves for cooking and medicines etc.
- Smell leaves.
- Name 3 leaves in a 3-period lesson. When when the child is familiar with the shape you can play a guessing game, such as “What tree does this leaf come from?” The 3-period lesson is explained here – 3-Period Lesson
Everyone who is present can participate in some way and the pleasing result will amaze and prompt further enquiry in this area.