Printing with leaves

Use plants and coloured ink pads to make beautiful prints showing plants' structure.
Science content
Biology: Features, Adaptations of Living Things (K, 1, 3, 7)
  • Pieces of plants, that are flat and ideally have prominent vessels (leaf skeletons e.g. of Magnolia are excellent)
  • Ink pads, different colours
  • Paper to print on
  • Paper towels
  • Newspaper

Show students the technique of printing:
Lay a leaf or plant structure on the ink pad and press on it with the paper towel to cover the underside with ink.
Lay on the paper, lay a sheet of newspaper over, and rub with your fingers to transfer the ink to the paper. Rub firmly and evenly without moving the leaf or paper.
Make a design or picture with different leaves and different ink colours.

Discussion on what you see in the prints:
What are these structures that show up in the prints? The vessels that carry food and water around the plant.
The underside of the leaf often has the most prominent vessels. These are phloem, carrying sugars from the leaves to the rest of the plant. (The xylem vessels carry water from the roots up to the leaves).

Leaves rot on the ground with the help of bacteria and fungi. Leaf skeletons (e.g. magnolia leaf) shows where bacteria and fungi have digested away the thinner parts of the leaf. The thicker vessels are still there.


Art and science

Grades taught
Gr 3
Gr 4
Gr 5
Gr 6