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Camouflage /Leafy T-shirts (pictures coming soon)

This is a great fun activity that you can try at home or at school. You can use it to reinforce the concept of camouflage, so it can tie in with a habitats theme. You could use keys to identify the leaves. By writing down the method used, it can tie in with a literacy theme, which can be extended by using the type of weather and time of year and the things you find on your walk as starting points for creative writing at any level.

You will need:

Plain white cotton T-shirt, washed and ironed, masking tape, leaves, scrap paper, fabric paints, old sponges or paintbrushes, water for cleaning the brushes and paper towels or kitchen roll to blot the brushes on, apron, or overalls, damp cloth, something to protect your work area-such as newspaper or a plastic sheet.

Optional extras:
Large piece of board

What to do

Go for a walk to collect a variety of different leaves, from your garden or in the school grounds. There should be plenty around on the floor. Look for interesting shapes and freshly fallen leaves. Select the leaves that you are going to print with. Prepare your working area. Place scrap paper between the front and back layers of the shirt. Stretch out your T-shirt, over a piece of board, if you have one, or just on the table, if not. Make sure it is as smooth and taut as possible and tape it into position on the board or table.

Using a brush or sponge, paint onto the veined side, of the leaf. The leaf should be covered, but not dripping. Place the leaf, paint side down onto your T-shirt. Press down, but don’t rub, then gently and carefully peel the leaf back. Repeat the process until you have an interesting pattern. You could use a fine paintbrush to outline or add detail to your shirt. Always clean brushes/sponges thoroughly between colours and blot them dry. Use the damp cloth to keep your fingers clean. If you want to print both sides of the T-shirt, you should let one side dry completely, before turning it over. Following the manufacturer’s instructions, allow the fabric paint to dry flat and iron if necessary to set the design.

Potential hazards

Irons can be extremely hot and may have trailing wires. Make sure an adult irons the T-shirts, in a safe place, away from small children. Wear protective gloves if you have very sensitive skin. Wear aprons or overalls to prevent staining to clothes.

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