Leaf Impressions

Leaf Impressions lesson plan

The science of leaves, leaf parts, and why leaves change colors leaves an impression on students as they create realistic leaf impressions.

  • 1.

    Find out why leaves change color in temperate climates in the fall. What weather conditions are necessary? Why do colors vary, even within a single leaf? Collect safe, fallen leaves that are still pliable.

  • 2.

    Form a tennis-ball sized piece of Crayola® Model Magic® into a circle with the heel of your hand, or roll it with a dowel stick. Make it consistently thick, round, and smooth (use a damp finger).

  • 3.

    Firmly press the back of a leaf into the modeling compound to make a deep impression. Use a craft stick or other modeling tool to add definition if necessary. With a dowel stick, poke a hole in the top of the compound so it can be hung. Dry 24 hours.

  • 4.

    Cover your work area with recycled newspaper. Experiment with Crayola Washable Watercolors and Watercolor Brushes to match leaf colors on the impression. Paint the background a contrasting color. Highlight veins with lighter or darker hues. Dry overnight.

  • 5.

    Measure with a ruler and cut 6 inches of yarn or ribbon with Crayola Scissors. Thread it through the hole. Knot and hang.


  • LA: Ask and answer questions to demonstrate understanding of a text, referring explicitly to the text as the basis for the answers.
  • LA: Use information gained from illustrations (e.g., maps, photographs) and the words in a text to demonstrate understanding of the text (e.g., where, when, why, and how key events occur).
  • LA: Compare and contrast the most important points and key details presented in two texts on the same topic.
  • LA: Write informative/explanatory texts to examine a topic and convey ideas and information clearly.
  • LA: Conduct short research projects that build knowledge about a topic.
  • LA: Report on a topic or text, tell a story, or recount an experience with appropriate facts and relevant, descriptive details, speaking clearly at an understandable pace.
  • SCI: Obtain information from text and other media about different types of local weather, including severe weather, and identify the most common types of weather in the local region.
  • VA: Use visual structures of art to communicate ideas.
  • VA: Select and use subject matter, symbols, and ideas to communicate meaning.


  • Possible classroom resources include: Let It Fall by Maryann Cocca-Leffler; We're Going on a Leaf Hunt by Steve Metzger; Apples for Everyone by Jill Esbaum; Tree For All Seasons by Robin Bernard
  • This lesson plan was adapted from ideas submitted by Jean Marie Peedle of Northville, Michigan, for the 50 States/50 Weeks series. Encourage students to collect leaves with their families or ask relatives and acquaintances who live far from them to send them samples of fallen leaves. Students identify the trees represented by their collected leaves. Students may also research the type of climate each tree thrives in. The location of these climates can also be located on a student-created world map.
  • Students can make several impressions to forma leaf bas-relief.