Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Leaf Prints -- a simple project for creatively hesitant kids

Sometimes the best way to encourage creativity in our children is to give them a project that doesn't require too much creativity.

That doesn't seem to make sense, does it?

Let's face it. Some kids (and adults) are hesitant about getting creative. If you give a hesitant child a pencil and a blank sheet of paper, he might give up before he even starts. The pressure of having to think of something on his own might stress him out.

In my opinion, the best thing to do in that situation is to ease the child into creativity one step at a time. Begin with "art" projects that have very specific instructions and predictable outcomes.

One such project is the leaf print, like this one:

This leaf print was done with radish leaves, but you can use any leaves you find growing outside. You will also need paper, poster paint and paint brushes. Here's what you do:
  • Pick the leaves right before you do this project, so that they are fresh and not dry or wilted. Maple or oak leaves work very well.
  • Use a paintbrush to lightly paint the back of the leaf (the veiny side). 
  • Set the leaf paint-side down on the paper and gently press the leaf against the paper. 
  • Lift the leaf off the paper to reveal a lovely leaf print that any child would be proud of. 
The coolest thing about projects like these is that there is always room for kids to be creative, but without feeling like they have to be creative. Encourage your children to try different colors, different shaped leaves, etc. Ask questions to get them thinking of variations for this project, or other things to make prints with.  If they are having fun, and not feeling pressured, creativity just might sneak up on them. 

And remember: kids love it when parents do this stuff with them rather than just telling them what to do. So make sure you have your own paper and paintbrush handy!

Have you done leaf prints or similar projects with your kids? We'd love to hear about them!

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