Tree Bark and Leaf Rubbing Art

Experiment with texture by having children rub crayons on tree trunks and leaves. Each pattern will be unique to their spot on the tree - no two drawings are alike! Extend this activity with flowers, stems, branches and pretty much anything outside!

Download and Print

Activity PDF

Explore texture using tree trunks!

Do you remember doing leaf and tree rubbings as a child and watching the image come to life as you rubbed a crayon over your image? Share this magic with children and bring the learning outside with this easy and fun art activity. All you need is paper, crayons, and some trees! 

🌿Can’t Get Outside? Stop by a craft supply store or dollar store, they often have fake tree bark and branches for children to use and look quite real! 

🍃 Know your Parts! Children can learn the parts of a tree/flower/leaf with this activity! 

Did you know? Tree bark helps keep out moisture in the rain and prevents the tree from losing moisture when the air is dry. It also protects against cold and heat and wards off harmful insects.

Materials

For this activity you will need:

White/lightly colored paper

Crayons with their labels removed

Trees, tree bark or leaves

Learning Outcomes

Domain

Physical

Skills

Fine motor

Indicators:

Beginning to hold writing utensils using the pincer grasp

Instructions

Step 1:

Start this activity by going outside and finding a tree with a lot of bumps and grooves on it or a flat, dry leaf.

Step 2:

Have your child take their paper and hold it up against the tree or a leaf on a hard surface with one hand and start rubbing using the side of the crayon with their other hand. They may need assistance holding the paper depending on their skill level. 

Step 3:

Try to make the rubbings as large as possible on the paper and fill it up. Once they’re happy, remove the paper from the tree or the leaf and take a look at your wonderful tree bark/leaf rubbing!

⬆️ For older preschoolers: Extend this activity with different-shaped natural materials like flowers

⬇️ For younger toddlers: Younger children may press too hard on the paper at first. Help them control the pressure by doing hand over hand.

Playful Questions

Can you find the grooves of the tree bark in your rubbing?

Can you identify the stem in your leaf rubbing?

How many lines are in the tree bark rubbing you created?

Can you continue to draw the outline of the tree/leaf/flower without rubbing the outline?

What would happen if we rubbed a different texture like a newspaper, the floor, or a wall?