Leaf Art Activity for Kids [Process Art with Leaves and Glue]

This is a super easy leaf art activity for toddlers and preschool kids.

All you’ll need for this activity are leaves, glue, paper, and a paintbrush.

First, gather a selection of fall leaves, a fun outdoor bonding activity before the art making.

Then, back at home or in the classroom, clear a table, set up your materials, and invite your child to attach leaves to a piece of chipboard or cardboard.

Your child will explore texture, practice fine motor skills, and exercise independent thinking. 

This is also an example of the weekly prompts our members receive in our membership, TinkerLab Schoolhouse.  Add your name to our mailing list and we’ll send you a Schoolhouse-style PDF of this activity.

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    There are few things I adore about today’s process leaf art activity:

    1. It’s low-cost
    2. It helps us connect to nature.
    3. Getting outside in the fall is fun!
    4. Connecting the changing seasons with art making is meaningful to kids.

    The Benefits of “Leaves and Glue”

    This activity will help children…

    • develop fine-motor skills
    • learn to work independently
    • build creative confidence through experimentation
    • expand creative and critical thinking skills
    • build an eye for aesthetics by developing a composition
    • develop a broader understanding of repurposing natural materials as art supplies

    Start with a walk

    I love an excuse to get outside in the fall, so we’ll begin with a nature walk.

    Bring a bag, basket, or bucket, and gather a selection of fall leaves.

    Then, back at home or school, clear a table, set up your materials, and invite your child or students to attach leaves to a piece of paper or cardboard.

    Creative Table with Leaves and Glue

    Supplies: Leaves and Glue

    1. Leaves
    2. Chip board, paper, or card board
    3. A sturdy paintbrush
    4. Shallow bowl or plate filled with glue

    leaves and glue on paper

    Clear the Table

    Remove any distractions that will take your child’s focus away from the creative invitation. Create a set-up that looks something like our photo (above).

    Arrange the leaves artfully to make this appeal to your child’s aesthetic sensibility.

    Once the table is “set,” ask your child if he or she would like to use/explore/experiment with these supplies.

    leaves and glue painting

    Creative Thinking

    It may sound too simple, and you may be wondering, “what’s the point”?

    Well, the best part comes next as you listen to your child explore their materials, observe as they make choices, and listen as they talk about the process of creating.

    They might notice the beauty or unique qualities of each leaf,

    or invent a song about leaves,

    or maybe they’ll reject the glue and explore new ways to attach the leaves with tape, a stapler, or…

    You can learn so much in these moments and it’s a real opportunity to connect!

    All the while, they are exercising their creativity.

    Stay alert to their questions and observations as they may have big ideas on how to expand this into a drawing, painting, or building project.

    It’s a simple spark for further discovery.

    Challenges and Critical Thinking

    One of the exciting challenges in this prompt relates to gluing down bumpy, twisted, and generally non-compliant leaves.

    If your child is frustrated by the non-flat quality of your leaves, or has difficulty gluing them down, this is an opportunity to tease out solutions.

    You could say something like, “I see you’re having trouble attaching the leaf to the paper. What could help it stick better?”

    From that, ideas such as “add more glue” or “turn the leaf over” might emerge.


    • Replace leaves with paper cut into leaf shapes, circles, rectangles, etc.
    • Tint the glue with a little bit of food coloring or liquid watercolors
    • Before you set up the invitation, go on a leaf hunt together to collect your materials

    This process art activity for kids is easy to set up and a developmentally appropriate art experience for toddlers and preschoolers. 

    I like to call these process-oriented prompts Art Starters because they’re simple explorations that help kids get started with art. With Art Starters, keep in mind that the journey is the destination.

    If you’d like to learn more about Art Starters, I also wrote a book on this topic, Art Starts: 52 Projects for Open-ended Exploration.With Art Starters, keep in mind that the journey is the destination.

    Would you like 7 more ways to make open-ended art this fall?

    I assembled seven of my favorite fall art explorations into a learning pack, as a creative companion on these chillier days. Head over to the TinkerLab Resource Shop.

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    Online Art Classes for Kids

    Engaging kids art classes - from the comfort of home! You set up the space, we'll provide the instruction.


    1. Yes! This is fabulous! I think I’m going to plan on doing this with all the leaves we’ve collected lately.

      • Hi Terri! It doesn’t get much easier than this. Thanks for your comment 🙂

    2. Gotta make sure to press them down well on the glue so the parts that aren’t glued don’t crumple

      • HI Faigie…Thanks for sharing this idea. Since this is all about exploring the process, with less focus on the final product, I wouldn’t worry too much about pressing the entire leaf down. One thought: when you set this up, pressing the leaf down could be presented as one of many options. ~Rachelle

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