Relief Sculpture: Fall Leaves Activity

3.5 based on 4 ratings
Updated on Jun 25, 2013

Celebrate the seasons changing summer turns into fall.  Watch as green summer leaves change colors magically before your eyes! And who's in charge of this magical process? Your child, that's who! Try this fun-filled activity in which your child can make his very own leaf sculpture based on the seasonal color changes.

Relief sculpture is an art form that consists of a raised surface, projecting off of a background at various degrees of depth. This particular project will help your child to explore this type of art and learn about the changing colors of the seasons. Explore shape, form, and space in this three-dimensional art lesson.

What You Need:

  • Tempera paint in the primary colors (red, yellow, blue)
  • Paint brush
  • White modeling clay
  • Pencil
  • Scissors
  • Cardboard or card stock

What You Do:

  1. Have your child draw a leaf shape on the cardboard or on card stock. If possible, go outside with your child and collect some fall leaf specimens for inspiration. It may be helpful to have your child trace the leaf onto the cardboard instead of drawing it freehand.
  2. Help your child to cut the leaf out. Depending on the thickness of the cardboard or card stock used, this may need to be done by an adult.
  3. Have your child paint the leaf green by mixing blue and yellow paint. This will be a summer leaf.
  4. Once dry, ask your child to build up a second leaf form onto the green leaf using modeling clay. He does not need to cover the entire green leaf. Instead, he can create texture or organic (more free form) shapes. Have him press the clay firmly onto the leaf surface. If it does not stick, add some glue under the clay.
  5. Ask your child to paint the white modeling clay parts with fall colors. Have him create different colors by mixing the paint.  This is a great opportunity to talk to your child about the different colors of each season, and ask him specifically about the colors of fall. 

Your child can create a tree full of fall leaf relief sculptures. Encourage him to repeat this activity more than once. Try different colors or patterns of colors on the leaves.

Erica Loop has a MS in Applied Developmental Psychology from the University of Pittsburgh's School of Education. She has many years of teaching experience working in early childhood education, and as an arts educator at the Carnegie Museum of Art in Pittsburgh.

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