Create gorgeous fall leaf art – with just paper, black crayon, and watercolor paints! This project is fun for kids of all ages (and parents too!). Preschoolers may not be able to do the crayon rubbing part totally independently, but I have tip for making it easier at the bottom of this post.

I have seen leaf art done with white crayon rubbings and then painting with watercolors over the crayon. I’ve also seen watercolor painting over leaf rubbings made with crayons of any color. But I wondered if black crayon would create a better contrast with the paint? It did! All of us were happy with the results.

We don’t exactly have leaves falling from the trees yet… despite the fact that it’s mid-October. So I had to use green leaves. We’ll get fall leaves eventually! Usually in late November or even December. One year my parents’ sweet gum tree turned a beautiful shade of red on Christmas Eve!

Anyway, find some leaves and make lots of leaf rubbings. I chose to cut ours out individually before painting. Make a bunch, because painting them is super fun!

Then just paint over your leaf rubbings with watercolors. That’s all there is to it!

The younger three painted and painted leaves, and I did a few myself!

Once our leaves were dry, Janie and I made some note cards with them. I had some large envelopes left over from something, so I cut construction paper cards to fit the envelopes.

TIP: Here’s a way to make crayon leaf rubbings easier for preschoolers!

Last week, we did some regular leaf rubbings. I tried taping the leaves to poster board squares, and it worked really well. I also labeled the cards with the types of leaves they are, which added another learning dimension for the kids who can read. They were very interested in the names, saying things like, “I’ll try the red oak now!”

The outline of the tape comes through in the rubbings, but this process made it much easier for Janie to do leaf rubbings on her own without the leaf scooting around under the paper!

This photo shows how much the tape comes through – it’s not much, but you can see the little squares of tape.

Have fun creating beautiful fall leaf art!

Want more fall inspiration? Try these projects!

Here are 15 Adorable Owl Crafts to try.

Make some Pumpkin Spice Play Dough and cut out leaf shapes.

Go on a fall five senses walk, and then fill in the blanks in this adorable fall poem.


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  1. Cindy Oct 14, 2019


  2. Grace Oct 14, 2019

    I love the contrast of the black crayon. I wonder if you could just use a glue stick and it not show through at all?

  3. JJ Oct 15, 2019

    For preschoolers, put leaves on a table and put contact paper over the whole area. Children can do rubbings over that and the leaves won't move.

  4. Diane Oct 30, 2019

    Hi can you give me a few more details?
    i am considering for a 4year old preschool class
    did u use parchment or tracing paper over the taped down leaves to make the rubbings?
    i see your younger child used a different color crayons not the black...before using a
    watercolor paint over? Or you could leave the way it is and not paint?

  5. Debra Aug 31, 2020

    I'm not sure what to do after taping the leaves down. You take a crayon and rub the color onto the
    leaf? It doesn't tear? Then you turn it over and rub it onto a piece of paper? I'm sorry. There are not enough details to make this process more clear. I've never done rubbings before. Please explain in
    a bt more detail..Thank you.

    1. Sarah Aug 31, 2020

      You put a piece of paper on top of the leaf. Then rub a crayon on the paper. The crayon markings will show the texture of the leaf in perfect detail. It's really cool!

  6. Carla Sep 21, 2023

    You can use washable makers for this to that's what I used with my grandkids when they were 2-4 years old. They turned out really good. We even put them on a canvas to hang in their rooms.

  7. Mary Sep 23, 2023

    Love your fall ideas. So appropriate for little ones. The pumpkin play dough was a big hit ! Thank you.


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