Fall Pre-Writing Activity Inspired by Leaf Man

I’ve been wishing for fall here. Our trees are still green. The weather’s still hot and muggy. But it’s nearly October, and time to think autumn! Here’s a fun twist on a classic leaf-rubbing craft…

Leaf tracing fall prewriting activity inspired by Leaf Man by Lois Ehlert

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I created this fall pre-writing activity to go along with the much-loved book: Leaf Man by Lois Ehlert.


The story and the illustrations are intertwined in Leaf Man. It’s really hard to explain! It’s long on whimsy, short on plot, and full of fascinating collages. All in all, it’s just right for preschoolers.

The prewriting activity I’m sharing here isn’t directly related to the story. It’s just inspired by the creative use of leaves.

We used fresh green oak leaves for our project – it was fun being able to transform them into an autumn craft/learning activity. The fine motor practice here is loosely inspired by a Montessori activity called Metal Insets. Metal insets are meant to strengthen little hands and give them practice at controlling a pencil, among a long list of other goals.

My girls, now in first grade, made the cutout leaves pictured here. I don’t think they could have cut them out that well a few years ago. So save the cutting for older siblings, do the cutting for your child, or just leave the leaves uncut.


  • Crayon with wrapper removed and broken in half
  • Regular crayons
  • Leaves
  • Paper – not too thick, I used white copy paper
  • Double sided tape, or glue
  • Masking tape
  • Cardstock, posterboard or cardboard (optional)
  • Scissors (optional)


It’s hard for little hands to hold the leaf and paper still. But if they slide around, you won’t get a clear leaf image.

  1. Affix each leaf to a sturdy surface. We used double-sided tape onto the back of old posterboard. You could also glue the leaf to cardstock or tape it onto your tabletop.
  2. Next, cover each leaf with a sheet of paper, and tape the paper to the table or posterboard with masking tape.


  1. Rub the leaf with the side of a crayon as shown.
  2. Trace around the leaf with various color crayons.
  3. Older children may also choose to cut out their leaves. Younger ones may only do the rubbing and not the outlining.
Leaf rubbing craft with extra tracing and many colors, shown with crayons.

You may also like these other Leaf Man ideas:


Learning About Letters with Leaves & Falling Leaves Song – Kori at Home

Beginning Sounds Activity: Leaf Sticker Tree- Growing Book by Book

Letter Recognition Game with Free Leaf Printable

Name Activities

Leaf Name Sticky Wall – Inspiration Laboratories

Learn to Write Your Name with ‘Letter Man’ – Chickadee Lit

Write Your Name In Leaves – Adventures of Adam


Learning Fun With Leaves – Clare’s Little Tots

Preschool Printable Counting Leaves-CraftCreateCalm

Sensory Play

Fall Loose Parts Sensory Invitation – My Storytime Corner

Fall Leaf Auditory Processing Activities


Preschool Leaf Science Experiment – Preschool Powol Packets

Simple Preschool Science: Leaf Matching Activity– School Time Snippets


Giant Colorful Watercolor Fall Leaves for Kids- Toddler Approved

Basic Math with Fall Leaves for Preschoolers – Views From a Step Stool


Leaf Art ~ Prewriting Patterns for Fall

Leaf Puppets – Messy Little Monster


Number Leaf Scavenger Hunt – The Educators’ Spin On It


Leaf Art – Making scenes/people with leaves – Mama Smiles

Exploring Leaf Shapes – Nature Walk Activity – To be a Kid Again

Leaf Shapes Fingerprint Activity – Artsy Momma


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