In celebration of Earth Day, here’s a creative activity to inspire a discussion about recycling and encourage the family to do a little yard work together.

This at-home idea comes from Gallery Educator Rebecca Cameron, one of several talented team members at the i.d.e.a. Museum. Gallery educators help create activities featured in our museum’s exhibitions and school tours. Learn more about Rebecca below.


Getting started

First, a few things you’ll need:

  • Acrylic or Tempera paint in a variety of colors
  • Paper Plates
  • Paper
  • Paper towels

Next, gather some fresh leaves. Chek out tips on the sustainable way to do this:

  • Wait until landscapers in your neighborhood are working and pick up some of the trimmings.
  • Trim back any plants that need it in your own yard and use the cuttings from that.
  • Pull weeds from around your home and neighborhood.
  • TIP: Make sure the leaves collected are as fresh as possible before painting.

Creating nature prints

Finally, it’s time to paint your leaves a variety of colors – you decide! Use those colorful leaves to experiment making nature prints on you  paper canvas.

Note: There aren’t step-by-step instructions for this activity. We let the child‘s imagination dictate the end product.

Offer some creative prompts for your child if they aren’t sure how to begin. For example, from our Art of the Story exhibition, encourage your kids to imagine a story setting or scene that they can create with the leaves.

If they need a specific idea, you might suggest creating a fairy landscape or magical forrest. Ask them to tell you a story about their creation.

Continue learning

After the activity, you can learn about recycling yard clippings by composting from our friends at Mesa Recycles.

And since Earth Day‘s 50th anniversary is on April 22, be sure to check out 50 activities for making a difference from Mesa’s Green Living team.

Rebecca is a full-time artist and former teacher. At the museum, she helps develop art-making activities and is often leading programs, such as Messy Creations, Girl Scouts, Wonder Camp, and guided tours. “I love that my job allows me the opportunity to teach in an informal setting and really get creative with the activities.”

Find her on Instagram and Tik Tok as @bexxfineart.