Tuesday, August 18, 2015

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Awesome Leaf Prints Activity!

These leaf prints are so detailed you can easily identify the parts of a leaf and paint them!  Making them is relatively quick and perfect for preschoolers and older kiddos too!

We made our leaf prints as part of our summer Nature Club, but you can also make them as a spring, summer, or fall leaf activity, part of a leaf or tree theme or unit, or just for fun!

You can do the entire activity outside, if you have an outdoor table to work on, or just go outside for the leaf hunt!  We made ours outside with kiddos from 2-8 years old, and the youngest definitely needed more help than the older preschoolers and school-age kiddos!

You can make your own leaf prints with these

Simple Supplies:

* Sculpey oven-drying clay (*see the note at the bottom of this post!*)
* cookie sheet covered in aluminum foil
* oven
* paint and paintbrushes
* leaves!

Easy How To:

1- Give your children a golf-ball sized piece of clay.  Encourage them to squeeze and squish the clay until it is easy to mold.  Flatten it on a counter top until it is about 1/4 inch thick.  If it is more than 1/2 inch thick, it is more likely to break after cooking.

2- Go on a leaf hunt!!

3- Bring your leaves back to your clay.  VERY gently, press the leaf into the clay.  It does not need to go in very deeply to make an impression!

4- If your kiddos want to wear their leaf prints like a medallion, use a straw to pop a little bit of clay out for a string or cord.  Be sure to leave at least a 1/4 inch of clay between the hole and the edge of the medallion.

5- Place the leaf prints on your aluminum-foil-covered cookie sheet.  If you're working with a big group, you can write each child's name next to their leaf print on the aluminum foil with a sharpie marker.  Cook them at 200 degrees Fahrenheit for 15 minutes.  If they're not hardened, give them another 10 minutes.  Continue until they are hard.  Do not overcook...they will brown!  Our pan was completely full and it took about 30 minutes to cook them all.  I've also done it with only one small "medallion" on the tray, and it was done in 15 minutes.

6. Let your leaf prints cool!  Then paint them!  Both acrylic and tempera paints worked great for us!

7.  Let them dry, and... Ta da!!  Gorgeous leaf prints...or leaf print medallions!!

**Note on Sculpey clay:  This is not a sponsored post!  We used Sculpey because we love it.  It will not harden until you cook it (we've even left it out for a month before!) and it is very easy for young fingers to work with.  It also cooks up quickly.  It is available on Amazon (see the link below) and in  most craft stores.  If you buy it at a craft store, be sure to bring in a coupon...you can get coupons for 40%-50% off one item for most large craft stores!  If you'd rather not buy it, this recipe also makes a white clay-like dough that has similar results!

Have you ever made leaf prints?  What have you used?

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