If you’re looking for some toddler process art ideas for fall, then you are in the right place! This tissue painted fall art is loved by both toddlers and preschoolers. It works hand strength and fine motor skills, while making a fun art project for fall.
Be sure to bookmark this page, as well as our Best Fall Activities for Preschool.
These feel like fall. Not only do they look like fall because of the colors we selected, they just feel like fall.
Preschoolers and toddlers love fall art projects, especially ones like this where it is all about the process! Young children benefit so much from process art, but toddlers especially. Our Ultimate Guide explains all the benefits of process art.
So if you’re looking for some fall painting ideas to add to your preschool lesson plans, this is one you have to try. It uses bleeding tissue paper to “paint” the background and cookie cutters to stamp the leaves.
As a preschool teacher, this fall art project is one of my favorites because toddlers can enjoy it as much as preschoolers.
Cozy Fall Preschool Centers$10.00
Fall Art Activity – Tissue Painted Fall Art
There are a couple of different options in executing this art activity, but I’ll also share some other fun process art activities for fall at the end of this post.
- bleeding tissue paper
- spray bottle
- watercolor paper or heavy cardstock
- plastic food tray (to create a workspace)
- black washable tempura paint
- leaf shaped cookie cutters
The Set Up
Place a sheet of watercolor paper on a plastic food tray, alongside strips of torn tissue paper. The tissue paper for this project must be “bleeding” or craft tissue paper. Gift tissue paper from the dollar store will not work.
Fill a small spray bottle with water, and then invite your preschooler or toddler to join you for the first step in creating this fall leaves art project.
1. Make the Background
Instead of using paint to create the colorful fall background, this project requires bleeding tissue paper. You can have your preschoolers tear the tissue paper in advance, which is what we did, or you can cut the tissue paper into squares before use.
Invite your toddler to place the pieces of tissue paper on their watercolor paper. These can be arranged in any way. They can be layered, folder, or crumpled.
Some of my toddlers gently laid the tissue paper in layers over their paper, while other crumpled the tissue paper, making it stand up from the paper. The two techniques will result in different effects.
The results will also vary based on how many layers of tissue paper are added. My toddler class seemed to keep on piling. They would add some tissue paper, smoosh it down, and then add some more.
Toddler Painting Teaching Tip!
When making fall art activities like this one where you want a colorful background, challenge your students to “cover all the white on the paper.”
Why Use Watercolor Paper
Watercolor paper is an added expense, but to me, it is well worth it, for a few reasons:
- Watercolor paper is designed to take a lot of water without losing its integrity in the process.
- It was a course texture, which adds to the leaf-like effect in fall process art like this one.
- Water color paper will warp less than heavy cardstock.
If you use heavy cardstock for this project, then I recommend taping it to the tray with masking tape. Keep the masking tape in place for the duration of the project, until everything has completely dried. This will lessen the amount of paper warping. (But watercolor paper is even better).
2. “Paint” with Bleeding Tissue Paper
Remember that special bleeding tissue paper we covered our watercolor paper with? Now we are going to use a squirt bottle to spray the tissue paper until it is wet all the way through.
Toddlers and preschoolers both benefit from this step because squeezing the trigger of the squirt bottle helps strengthen the muscles in the hands. Hand strength is the first step in teaching 2 and 3 year olds the fine motor skills they need that will develop into writing skills.
3. Allow to Dry
Once your toddler has squirted water all over the tissue paper, give the entire paper a good smoosh with both hands. This is not a required step, but it is exactly what every one of my students naturally did, so there must be some benefit to it, right?
Next, (and this step is for real), place another sheet of watercolor paper on top, followed by another food tray, and a couple of books.
Essentially, you are making a press by sandwiching the tissue paper between two pieces of paper and two trays. Allow the pieces to dry completely, typically overnight.
Your toddlers and preschoolers will be so excited to return to the process art project the next day and see what beautiful fall colors they have created.
4. Remove the “Press” and See the Results
I’m not joking when I say that my classes the next day buzzes with anticipation. They had gone home wondering about what their fall artwork would look like, and they came to school the next day still wondering.
So, we didn’t hesitate.
We peeled back the layers to reveal our colorful fall background.
See the detail?! Who would have expected that!
Remember, this process only works with bleeding tissue paper, not gift-wrapping tissue paper.
Tips for Getting a Leaf-Like Effect From the Tissue Paper
I adored the leaf-like textures we got from some of our pieces, and I learned a few tricks to make that happen. You will need to:
- Use slightly crumped tissue paper.
- Only dampen the tissue paper with water, don’t soak it.
- Soaking the tissue paper will cause the colors to bleed, but too much water to remove some of the detail caused from crumpling the paper in the first place.
More Toddler Process Art Ideas for Fall
The art can stop here, or you can add one more layer of fun to it. Or better yet, ask your preschooler or toddler what she wants to do!
Since the tissue paper makes such a beautiful stage of color, it’s fun to add some leaf outlines to make these look almost like a fall tree craft for kids.
Simple add some black or brown washable tempura paint to a paper plate and then set out some leaf shaped cookie cutters. Invite your toddlers to use the cookie cutters to make stamps!
Painting Ideas for Toddlers
Painting offers toddlers a world of exploration and creativity. As they dip their little fingers and brushes into vibrant colors, they’re not only having fun but also honing their fine motor skills and hand-eye coordination.
Here are some really simple toddler painting ideas to give you some inspiration.
- Finger Painting: Let them dip their fingers in paint and create their own masterpiece on paper.
- Sponge Painting: Cut a sponge into shapes and let them dip it in paint to make fun patterns.
- Q-tip Painting: Use Q-tips as tiny paintbrushes for small-scale, detailed artwork.
- Blow Painting: Drop paint on paper and let them blow through a straw to spread the paint in unique ways.
- Nature Brushes: Attach leaves, twigs, or other natural items to a clothespin and use them as brushes.
- Toy Car Tracks: Let them dip toy cars in paint and drive them on paper to create tracks.
Autumn Art Ideas for Preschoolers
Do I have you hooked on process art? Then try some of these easy activities for kids that will make your little one want to create all day long!
- Fall Tissue Collages
- Pumpkin Tracing
- Tissue Painted Pumpkins
- Lego Stamped Indian Corn
- Fall Paper Plate Wreaths
- watercolor paper or cardstock
- fall colored BLEEDING tissue paper
- black tempura paint
- leaf cookie cutters
- spray bottles
- Loosely crumple up tissue paper and lay the pieces on the watercolor paper, making sure to cover the entire paper.
- Use the spray bottle to squirt the tissue paper until it is fully wet, but not soaking.
- Lay a second sheet of paper over the top, and press down on the "craft sandwich". You can add some books for weight to get more crisp edges around the tissue paper.
- Allow to dry completely.
- Once dry, remove the top paper and the tissue paper to reveal the leaf-like background.
- Finally, use leaf cookie cutters to make leaf stamps over the top.
Preschool process art is focused on the experience the children have while they’re creating, not necessarily the end product. So don't worry about what the finished products look like or having a desired outcome in mind. They are learning so much as they create their works of art!
Cozy Fall Preschool Centers$10.00
I’m Sarah, an educator turned stay-at-home-mama of five! I’m the owner and creator of Stay At Home Educator, a website about intentional teaching and purposeful learning in the early childhood years. I’ve taught a range of levels, from preschool to college and a little bit of everything in between. Right now my focus is teaching my children and running a preschool from my home. Credentials include: Bachelors in Art, Masters in Curriculum and Instruction.