By Sam Burbach, Education & Programming Coordinator – 11/05/2021


Fall is such a beautiful time of year with leaves changing colors on the trees around us. As you go for a walk to enjoy the fall colors, or as you are raking up leaves in your yard, a fun activity to have kids do is a leaf resist watercolor painting. This activity is easy and a lot of fun for kids – it can almost seem like magic! It is a twist on leaf rubbings and can create some beautiful artwork to celebrate fall.

Here’s how you can try it at home!


Here’s what you’ll need
  • Fallen leaves (relatively fresh and not crispy yet)
  • Watercolor paper
  • White crayon
  • Watercolor paints
  • Paintbrushes
  • Cup/bowl of water

Step 1

Collect leaves while on an autumn walk to view the beautiful fall colors on the trees, or simply collect them from your yard! The leaves of different types of trees have different shapes so you can mix and match, or use all leaves from one type of tree. You want the leaves to still be relatively fresh and flexible, rather than dried up already.

Step 2

Peel the paper off of a white crayon.

Step 3

Set some leaves upside down on the table (with the veins pointing up) and cover with a piece of watercolor paper (this paper is thicker than computer paper and will hold up to the water being spread on the paper).

Step 4

Lay the crayon on its side and begin rubbing over each of the leaves. Because the watercolor paper is thick you will have to press pretty hard to get the impression – adults may need to help for small children!

Step 5

Once you are finished making all your leaf impressions, wet the watercolor paints by adding a dab of water to each of the colors. Begin painting all over the paper. The wax from the crayon should make the paint resist soaking into that area of the paper and you’ll be left with the impression of all of the leaves!

TIP: You can use some masking tape to hold the paper down before painting to try and prevent the paper from curling, but this is optional.

Step 6

Allow to dry and admire the beautiful work of art!

TIP: If the paper curls up while painting, you can set it under some heavy books once dry to help flatten it back out.