Inspiration for this lesson came from the Briargrove Elementary Art blog. I love their use of recycled materials for so many of their projects.
First the children each designed a leaf stamp in black marker on a circle of styrofoam egg carton material. They pressed the details into the foam with ball point pens, and then cut around the outer edges of the leaf. These were glued to recycled bottle tops and ready to use as stamps.
Then we set out to make a bare tree collage. Each child chose a 12"x18" sheet of Fadeless 2-Color paper. We trimmed a 2" strip from the bottom of sheet, flipped it and glued it to the bottom edge of the now 12"x16" piece. We discussed how this would be the horizon line of their work and that the trees roots could reach down below the line and into the ground. The children used scraps of various colored construction paper glued onto their background paper to form the tree. The scraps were to illustrate the varying color and texture of the bark and the tree's roots, trunk, and branches.
We then brushed tempera paint onto our stamps and filled our trees with leaves. I encouraged not cleaning the stamps between colors to let the leaves have a natural variation in color. The children were also allowed to try colors that may not actually be seen on real trees in nature. The final works were so colorful and expressive—an all over great lesson. I love autumn!