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