With the changing of the seasons, summer turning to fall, there are beautiful leaves all around on the ground. Inspired by a forgotten about book we stumbled across on our bookshelves and the nature art of Nature Play Nanny, my children and I have been dabbling in our own version of nature art with leaves. The book, which got us thinking about this fun nature activity is Look What I Did with a Leaf! by Morteza E. Sohi. Not only does this book offer ideas and inspiration for nature art, it also offers suggestions for working with leaves so that the art can be preserved and tips for using a diversity of shapes and colors of leaves. Additionally, as a way to tie in some science learning opportunities, the book includes information about the life cycle of a leaf, explaining with both words and pictures, how leaves grow and change throughout the year. The final pages of the book include a visual field guide to common leaf varieties, helping to identify some of the leaves one might find in their backyard. It’s not a very extensive guide, but it is a starting place. If you want a guide with more variety for your region, I would suggest a tree or forest themed one specific to your region from either Peterson Field Guides or The National Audubon Society.
To get started with leaf art:
- Select a variety of leaf shapes, sizes, and colors. This will help you create detail as you assemble your work.
- Try to find leaves already on the ground. This way you won’t be damaging living plants. But, if you would like a leaf from a living plant, carefully remove only what you need without breaking the stem of the plant, and be sure that leaves remain on the plant so it can continue to grow.
- Start simple and get more complex. Our first project was a simple fish with just a few leaves. As we continue to get a better eye for this type of art, we add more details to our work, or add scenery around the object we are creating.
- Use reference materials to help you plan out and create the design you want to make. Reference pictures can remind you about certain details of the image you might want to include in your own work.
Most of all, it is important to have fun with this project. It is a great way to get inspired by the beauty of the natural world and for children to explore shapes, colors, and design. The project is sure to offer a creative opportunity for all ages.