Leafy Printmaking: Discovery at Home

What you need:

  • Fresh leaves, clover, flowers, etc.
  • Hammer.
  • Canvas bag, old pillowcase, or similar fabric. Natural, light colored fabrics work best!


  1. Collect green leaves, clovers, and other plant life.
  2. Lay out the plants on the canvas bag.
  3. Use the hammer to gently tap the leaves into the canvas bag.
  4. Observe the print markings that are left after using the forces from the hammer.

Ways to Expand the Activity:

  • Use flowers that are different colors. Do they all print similarly? Can you mix colors?
  • Try different fabrics and observe differences. You might notice that natural fabrics absorb the color better than synthetic fabrics.
  • Use tape to create an outline of a picture. Place the leaves inside the shape. Then, hammer the leaves into the shape created to help identify the shape.

What Kids Learn:

  • The power of chlorophyll! Chlorophyll is the green pigment found in leafy plants that helps them absorb light and convert it to energy (photosynthesis). Chlorophyll is also what creates dye in your print! People have been using plants and berries to dye fabrics for thousands of years.
  • Spatial or visual thinking. Being able to imagine the positions of objects and how they interact is an important skill for learning math.
  • Fine motor skills. Kids practice using the small muscles in their hands later used for writing.
  • Sensory play! Sensory play that lets children touch, squeeze, smell and feel helps build connections in the brain.
  • Experimentation! When kids experiment, they're learning how to learn. Failure is an important part of experimenting, so let kids try things that won’t work. It’s how they figure things out!
  • Hand eye coordination. Young children can use activities like this to help improve communication between their minds and bodies.