Leaf Tessellations - A Summer Craft Activity for Outdoorsy Kids

Looking for some warm weather activities to help prevent the summer slide and keep kids engaged? Do you have outdoor explorers who love nature crafts? Here's an activity you can do which is low-prep but high fun.

Leaf Tessellations 

Summer is here, so get those kids outside! An outdoor craft is just the ticket for keeping multiple ages occupied and outside. This leaf-centric printing activity introduces geometric thinking into your child's day through creative visual play, with tessellations!  [In the words of our fave character Wallykazam's friend, Gina giant: "it's a giant word!" 



Tessellations are repeating shapes that form a pattern without overlapping. Think of the repeating hexagons of a honeycomb design or square tiling for a kitchen floor. Popularized by the famed artist M.C. Escher, these mathematic wonders can help your child to discover concepts that range from geometry to spatial expression. Now, it's time to go pick some leaves... 

What You Need: 
  • Construction paper
  • Thin cardboard (try reusing an old cereal or shoe box)
  • Scissors
  • Pencil
  • Tempera paint in two different colors
  • Paint palette or washable paint tray
  • Thick paint brush
What You Do: 
  1. Ask your child to choose a leaf shape. You can accompany your child to the backyard or a park to collect their ideal leaf/leaves. Or, they can come up with a special leaf shape of their own. Keep in mind that in a tessellation there should be no gaps or overlaps, so the shape should be able to fit snugly next to a copy of itself. Have your child use a pencil to draw their leaf shape onto the cardboard.
  2. Cut the shape out of the cardboard. Repeat to make one more identical leaf shape.
  3. Pour two different colors of paint onto a palette or washable art tray. Try summer beach shades, lake colors, or your child's favorite colors.
  4. Your child can now dip one of the cardboard leaves into one color of paint. Coat one entire side. If needed, he can use a paint brush to coat the leaf completely.
  5. It's time for your child to start stamping! Press the leaf onto the construction paper to create a print.
  6. Repeat the painting steps with the second leaf, choosing a different color.
  7. Press the second leaf onto the paper directly next to the first print. Be careful not to overlap the leaf prints!
  8. Repeat back and forth with the two different colors several times, and then move on to a second, third, or even fourth line.
  9. Set aside the painted paper to dry.


With this nature inspired activity, you'll add some fun (and learning) into your list of family crafts this summer. Your mini-mathematician can get hands-on with some very abstract ideas by creating his own unique leaves for this printing process project. 

Remember--try not to destroy trees and plants in your collection efforts. Try the flowers in your garden or perhaps weeds you will be pulling or mowing anyway before you start yanking on the splendid oaks in the backyard. 

Disclosure: This post was brought to you by Education.com. There was no monetary exchange involved, nor was any compensation of any kind received. I simply thought you'd like this activity! 

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