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MetaZoo Activity: Leaf Impressions

Spring is here and plants are waking up and putting out new shoots! One fun way to celebrate the new plants in your life is to make leaf impressions. You can make your leaf impressions as plain or decorative as you want, and this activity is one that the whole family can participate in and enjoy. The basic idea requires very little creative skill and you can be as artistic or scientific as you want. You can turn or leaf impression into a decorative pendent for a necklace, make a guide to plants growing in your yard, or even use them as stamps to decorate another project. So, get outside and look at what’s sprouting!


  • Air-dry clay or other clay dough (we used Crayola brand Air Dry Clay)
  • Toothpick/cooking skewer (optional)
  • Paint/permanent marker (optional)
  • Leaves or flowers
  • Spray sealant (optional)


  • Take a short walk around your yard or a nearby park and select a few leaves or flowers that you like. You can choose big or small leaves, but this craft works best with leaves the size of your palm or smaller.
  • Once you get your leaves or flowers home, grab your clay and clear a workspace on a hard-flat surface like a counter top or table. You can lay down paper or a craft mat if you are concerned that the clay might stick.
  • Form your clay into a ball about the size of a golf ball, lay your leaf or flower flat in the center of your cleared surface and place your clay over it. Using the palm of hand, press down on the clay and flatten it over your leaf or flower. Make sure to use even pressure and to flatten the clay until all parts of your leaf or flower are covered.
  • Flip over the flattened clay and very carefully peal your leaf or flower out of the clay. You should have a disk with the impression of a leaf or flower pressed into it. Once you remove all the plant material you could use your toothpick to poke a hole in the clay disk if you wanted to make a pendent and set your clay aside to dry.
    • The drying time and method will vary depending on the type of clay or play dough you used. Most air-dry clays will fully set in 24 to 48 hours, but some types of clay might need to be baked in the oven to fully harden.
  • Once your clay is fully dried you can choose to leave it plain, label it with the plant name, or decorate it with paint or other decorative elements.
  • If you intend to use your leaf impression as a pendent or a stamp you should take the time to seal the clay so that its protected from moisture and won’t lose its shape over time.

Thinking Questions

  • Are your leaves native to Kentucky?
  • Why did you pick a leaf? A flower?
  • Will you decorate your leaf impression to look natural or use your imagination?