Create a Leaf Rubbing to Remember a Nature Walk

June 24, 2017


A Leaf rubbing to remember a nature walk

Do you enjoy going on nature walks with your child?  If so, a leaf rubbing is an easy, creative and colorful way to document what was found.  If your child is like mine, he does not want to let go of any of his nature treasures that he finds on our walks.  One practical way of preserving your nature finds is with a leaf rubbing, shown here in four easy steps.

Enjoy a simple and fun leaf rubbing craft to celebrate fall with your young artist.  This craft incorporates art and science using a few simple materials.  The post explores ways to incorporate art in nature exploration.

How it Began

  My child led me into the woods when he was very young.  He was three when I asked him what he wanted to do over summer break.  He replied, “Go into the woods.”  Our nature walks have had many benefits.  They have instilled a sense of curiosity about nature.  In addition, they have inspired him to be observant and ask questions about the natural world.  And most importantly, they have given us a time and space to bond with each other. 

1. Choose a Place for your nature walk

The great thing about collecting items on a nature walk is that it can happen almost anywhere.  It can be an everyday place like your back yard, a local park, or your neighborhood.  Often times you won’t even need to get in the car.  Or, it can be a special place you only enjoy once in a while, like a far off beach, a national park, or a vacation destination.   We also love to explore public gardens and parks when traveling.   What really makes a nature walk special for us is collecting small items like leaves, sticks, stones, and the occasional feather, shell, or bug. 


2. Gather items for your leaf rubbing

It is handy to have a container with you to put your items in.  We use a small bucket.  Although you do not need to bring a lot with you on your nature walk, binoculars and a magnifying glass make it extra fun for us.  Once your items are gathered, lay them out and let your young naturalist choose which items to print.  The flatter the item is, the easier it will be to rub.  As your child gains experience with making prints, he will have a better idea of what items will print best.

Remember your nature walk with a simple leaf rubbing

3. Making your Leaf rubbing

A white piece of paper and a peeled, broken, black crayon will be needed for this step. If you would like to make it into a journal later, use an 8 1/2 x11 size paper or larger.  If you choose to paint your leaf rubbing, drawing paper is best. Any color crayon will work, but black will stand out best against the paint. 

First, place an item under the white paper.  Show your child how to hold the peeled crayon on its side, not tall like a pencil.  Then, show him how to hold the paper with one hand and rub the crayon over the area where the object is.  This is a great opportunity to talk about the art element of texture.  Encourage your child to feel the texture of the item.  Once it is printed, the texture can be seen in the artwork.  

Create a leaf rubbing to remember your nature walk with crayon, watercolor paint and your nature treasures.


4. Add watercolor paint

Watercolor can be added on top of the crayon rubbing to create a beautiful finished painting. Kids are always amazed that the crayon shows up under the paint!   Once the paper is dry, you can choose to leave it as a painting, or turn it into a nature journal, as seen above.  To make a journal, simply fold the painting in half.  Take some copy paper, fold it in half, and slide it in the book.  Finally, staple the sides to hold it all together!  You can read more about art journals here.  To get a free Art Journal Starter Kit with a nature journal template, subscribe to the Painterly Path Newsletter.



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