Since the leaves are starting to fall in many places (still a little early in Alabama) here is an alternative materials printing activity. Paint the underside of a flexible leaf with watercolor, tempera or acrylic then press gently onto paper. Be very careful not to move the leaf at all once it is on the paper or you’ll just end up with a smudge. Let the little kids use the leaves as brushes and the older ones can use them to print with. My 9 year old enjoyed this activity and painted multiple colors on the leaves but the two year old was primarily interested in painting the leaves, or any other available surface.
If you want to include proper art vocabulary, this type of print is called a monoprint because you can’t make more than one at a time and you can’t make 2 that are exactly the same. You could make great place cards for the Thanksgiving table with these. Greeting cards, prints to hang on the wall are more options. Do four with different background and leaf colors and frame them in their own black 5×7 frame and hang together. You can use this as an opportunity for observation and study of difference within similarity. Every leaf is different, even if they are from the same branch. What is it that makes us classify a leaf as an oak instead of a maple. Why is it a white oak leaf and not a red oak leaf?
If you’re concerned that doing watercolor leaf prints might not work with your kids but you want to give it a try, just make sure you have some thin paper and crayons available so you can switch to rubbings or lay a flat leaf on paper and trace around it carefully. Or better yet, try all three methods and compare. Tell me how it goes.