Science project

Leaf Rubbings: Shapes and Patterns

Research Questions:

  • What shapes do you see?
  • What parts do you see?
  • How are leaves the same?
  • How are leaves different?
  • [Some useful vocabulary: petiole (stalk), veins, simple leaf, compound leaf.]


  • Leaves from different plants
  • Plain white typing paper (do not use construction paper; it is too heavy)
  • A few sheets of newspaper
  • Crayon

Experimental Procedure:

  1. Collect leaves from several different plants.
  2. Lay a few layers of newspaper on a table or other smooth, flat surface. Lay one or more leaves on the newspaper, textured side up, and cover the leaves with the typing paper.
  3. Remove the paper from the outside of the crayon, and, using the flat edge of the crayon, rub gently but firmly across the leaves. (This step is easier with a short piece of crayon.) On the paper should be appearing images - rubbings - of the leaves.
  4. Cut carefully around each leaf rubbing so that you can sort and group the individual leaves.
  5. Carefully observe the rubbings and think about the research questions above.
  6. Group and re-group the leaves in as many ways as you can think of: size, shape, texture, similar parts, etc.

Terms/Concepts: rubbing, petiole, vein, simple leaf, compound leaf

Turn your rubbings into a collection of Gift Cards!

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