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Make Bat Relief Prints with Leaves: Fun Fall Art Project

written by: thatbluegirl • edited by: Sarah Malburg • updated: 6/6/2012

Now that leaves are falling, pick them up and turn them into bats with this simple printmaking procedure for your kids. In this project, elementary students will create relief prints out of leaves just in time for Halloween!

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    This lesson can be facilitated several ways. One focus could be a scientific perspective where students learn about bats, another direction could be printmaking with discussion revolving around relief prints, or this could be a lesson plan about leaves and weather. The focus of this article is the printmaking process.


    A few photographs of bats, relief prints (teacher preference-there are so many to choose from)


    white paper, black, blue, or brown watercolor paint, maple leaves (not too dried out), brushes, scissors, markers, styrofoam tray cut into 1 inch squares, pencils


    • printmaking: the art or procedure of making prints.
    • relief print: printed from the ink on raised portions of a wood block or some other form of relief block. The portions not to be inked and printed are cut away so that what remains stands out in relief.


    Students will create a relief print out of a Maple leaf, onto a sheet of paper which they will turn into a bat.


    1. The teacher explains/demonstrates that students are going to use their pencil to draw a leaf on the styrofoam tray, coat the tray with a thick coat of watercolor paint, and then stamp the image onto a piece of paper. He/She asks students to predict what they think will happen before showing students. (demonstrates with a full-sized version of styrofoam) The teacher then discusses printmaking and what a relief print is.

    2. Each student receives a 1x1 inch styrofoam square, a pencil, and piece of white paper. Depending on how supplies are distributed, students also need access to watercolor paint. (whether it is shared at a table or each student has an individual paint/brush set). Each student is instructed to draw with pencil, a mini leaf or their favorite shape, pressing into their styrofoam tray.

    3. They then coat their stamp with paint and make a print onto their piece of paper and write their name next to their shape.

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    1. Lesson begins with motivation. Afterwards, the teacher discusses with students what happened. She/he then shows an example of what they will be making and explains how they will turn a Maple leaf into a bat. (The leaf is turned upside down with the point facing down. A head is added to the top and the whole leaf is outlined) Students should view photographs of bats.

    2. Each student receives a Maple Leaf and pair of scissors. Students cut the stems off the leaf.

    3. Students should lay their leaf, texture side up, on the table and begin brushing on paint. The leaf will resist a bit, but if students keep applying the paint, it will adhere.

    4. Carefully turn the leaf over and make a relief print on the white paper. Students should then turn their paper so their leaf is upside down with the point facing them.

    5. With pencil, students should outline the leaf and draw a head on their bat. Once they are satisfied with their drawing, they should outline with marker and add feet.