Leaf printing in the nature journal

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We packed a picnic and headed to the arboretum yesterday with the intention of making leaf prints. Maia filled her little backpack with the nature journal (which we're just starting), some stamp pads, and an assortment of colored pencils and markers.
We collected leaves from all around us. Since it was an arboretum, some plants were labeled and I would write the name next to the print. Others were unlabeled or I else I was confused about which label went with which plant.

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First we pressed the leaves to the stamp pad, using the back of a spoon to make sure that the leaf was thoroughly inked without getting our fingers black in the process.

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Then we pressed the inked side of the leaf to the paper, rubbing all over with fingers or palm to transfer the image.

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They worked beautifully! We tried both fronts and backs of leaves, as well as a few flowers. Although we also brought green and brown stamp pads, the colors didn't show up nearly as well, and we ended up sticking with the black. Our ink pad was a little small for this project. If a leaf was too large, I would ink different parts of it separately before printing, but Maia would just rip off a piece of leaf if the whole thing didn't fit on the pad. Which was fine. She still got good prints that she oohed and ahed over. But having a larger ink pad might make the project easier for a young child.

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Maia and I talked about leaf shapes and how the pattern of their "veins and arteries" vary on different leaves. But mostly we just had fun printing and finding new leaves to try.

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Comments

  1. says

    I’m just in the process of starting my girls on nature journals. This is a good thing to add to my bag.

  2. says

    This is such a great idea! We love going to the arboretum, but we’ve always hand-drawn the plants. Stamping is a great way to get a lot more “samples” in the book. I can’t wait to try this with the kids. Thanks!

  3. says

    Thank you SO much for this idea. Our university campus has a ton of different types of trees (mostly labeled) and I just never would have thought to do it, but my kids would love to fill out their nature journal with a wider variety of leaves.

  4. says

    Ink Pads!!!!! Why have I never thought of this? I always do it with actual paint, which naturally just leads to a lot of paper layered thick with paint, a pile of soggy painty leaves, and no leaf impressions anywhere to be found! Though the ink from ink pads rarely comes off our hands, at least it leaves a very accurate impression of the leaf. Great idea!

  5. jill says

    Hi Jean,
    my daughter and I have been enjoying a simple book called Birds by Kevin Henkes that I think you and Maia would like. The illustrations are great, the text is simple and lovely. Check it out at your library! Enjoy!

  6. says

    I love these Jean! I’ll have to take the kids out and try this. I love it that you wrote the names down with the leaves too — I sometimes feel ashamed that I don’t know the names of all the trees in our area. I’ve done this with fabric paint on various pieces of clothing and pillows as well, it looks pretty cool.

  7. says

    The ink came off our hands pretty easily. We used one that was called “archival” although I would think it would make it more permanent rather than less.

  8. says

    ooh, I love the idea of a nature journal. I’ve been looking for more crafty things to do outside with my kids, and this is one that I think even my nearly two-year-old could participate in, maybe in helping press the leaves onto the page…or as I see someone else mentioned above on a fabric, maybe a T-shirt ($1 sale at Michael’s?). My kids would love that, to be able to wear their own creations. Thank you for the idea.

  9. says

    OH.WOW. I am having all kinds of “WHY didn’t *I* think of that?” moments as I peruse blogs this morning. What an AWESOME idea! *THANK YOU!* (((((HUGS))))) sandi

  10. Kate says

    What a great idea of having a nature journal! We are definitely going to have to invest in some. I love reading your blog, you are real and honest-love that!

  11. says

    I love the idea of a nature journal. I think I’d like to do this with my daughter, but whenever I bring out an ink pad, she loves to cover herself in ink. I can see us quickly covering a whole notebook in black ink…but I guess that’d be ok too if she’s enjoying herself. I’ll have to give this a try.