Fall Leaf Shirts
This is one of my all time year round favorite projects on my lesson plans. No Joke!
As a large group activity, I had earlier passed out bags to all of the children and had them collect leaves that were not dry and crunchy and were as whole as they could find. I have a general rule during nature walks that they can only “take” from the ground (ie. things that have fallen) and can non pick leaves off a tree because “mother nature didn’t give us them yet.”
The two middle photos are my supplies for the leaf print shirts. I purchase one or two tubes of Tulip Fabric paint in a red color, bright yellow, olive green and a metallic copper. I also get the spray dye in a maroon color that I later use to stencil their names with. The t-shirts are just undershirts bought in packs. I usually pick them up at Target because they have a “bonus” shirt, thus there are 6 in a pack.
I lay out lots of paper plates, fill paint cups with little bits of fabric paint at a time, and lay out the leaves that look like they’ll make good prints. I usually place a piece of cardboard or craft foam sheet in between the shirt because the paint will go through if they put it on thick. I always make sure that the kids know that no matter what color a leaf was painted before, they can make it any color they want. Sometimes the blending of two different colors after a different print makes a really awesome effect, but you wont know until you see the final product.
I show the children how to paint the entire leaf, and make sure they know to paint the underside so that they get a print. After it’s all painted with a thin coat, we flip the leaf over onto the tshirt and give it a nice press. If you “rub” it the paint will smear, so just press down! Then we lift it strait up in the air by grabbing on the little stem and reveal a beautiful print.
After I make one or two prints with the child, I let them go at it and have a printing free-for all. Some kids will print a few and be happy with it, while others will fill their whole shirt, creating an abstract piece of wearable art no matter what their heart desires. This year I even had a little girl rotate her rounded edge leaf to make a “leaf flower” SO CREATIVE!!!!
After they dry out, the next day I use my trusty Cricut to cut out their names in 3in stencils, lay them out and spray them with the sprayable dye. If you don’t have a Cricut, you can surely manage to stencil their names in other ways!
The end products are just precious. I have kids from my first class that still squeeze into their fall leaf shirts THREE YEARS later!