Fall Landscapes

Children will discuss and make fall pictures.

Birds Nest

Lesson Objective

Children will explore how fall can be visually depicted using color.


What You'll Need

  • Sunny Autumn Day, George Inness; see Cleveland Museum of Art website
  • 12" × 18" light blue construction paper – 1 per child
  • Brown paper strips – approximately 1"–1½"× 9" – 5 to 8 per child
  • Glue sticks – 1 per child
  • Yellow, orange, and red tempera paint – 1 bottle each
  • Disposable plates – 1 per paint color per table
  • Small sponges – 3 per plate
  • Corks – 1 per plate
  • Newspaper (to cover tables)

What To Do

Note: Prior to the lesson, cover tables with newspaper.

  1. Show George Inness’s landscape, Sunny Autumn Day. Ask children what colors they see. Discuss how leaves change color in the fall when the temperatures get cooler (see Did You Know?).
  2. Explain to the children that they will create a fall landscape using paper and paint.
  3. Demonstrate how to create a forest by gluing brown paper strips to the paper. “Trunks” can stand up straight, tilt, or fall.
  4. Demonstrate adding fall colors. Show how the paint matches the colors in Inness’s landscape. Apply paint using sponges and corks. Sponges can make leaves; corks can be pumpkins, apples, etc.
  5. Distribute paper, glue sticks, and several brown paper strips (to create a forest) to each child.
  6. Place plates of paint in fall colors on the table. Each plate should contain 3 sponges and 1 cork. Encourage children to share, and to keep sponges and corks on the same plate.
  7. As children work, reinforce vocabulary by discussing their landscapes.

Guiding Student Inquiry

  • What do you see in this painting?  (This is usually the best question to start with when looking at an artwork.)
  • Explain how you can tell it is fall in this landscape.
  • Describe the trees in your forest (could relate to the number or position of trees, the season depicted, or the process of painting).

Explore, Extend & Integrate

  • Repeat this project for winter. Show Kent’s Maine Coast, 1907, from the Cleveland Museum of Art website.
    • How are the trees different than those in Sunny Autumn Day? Use winter paint colors: white, blue, dark green.
  • Repeat this project for spring. Show Monet’s Gardener’s House at Antibes, from the Cleveland Museum of Art website. Talk about spring as a time when things begin to grow. Use spring colors: pink, yellow, light green.
  • Repeat this project for summer. Show Pissarro’s Edge of the Woods Near L'Hermitage, Pontoise, from the Cleveland Museum of Art website. Use summer colors: various shades of green.

Check for Children’s Understanding

  • Could children identify fall colors in a landscape from the Cleveland Museum of Art and their own artwork?
  • Did children understand that leaves change color in the fall?
  • Could children explain how they created their artwork?


Did You Know?

Landscapes are an ideal way to introduce the concept of the changing seasons. Landscapes are pictures of the outdoors that typically include natural scenery such as mountains, valleys, trees, rivers, and forests. Landscapes can also include buildings such as those in a city or town. 

Landscape paintings have been especially popular during periods when there was great interest in exploring the natural world. George Inness was an American artist who was influenced by the great European tradition of landscape painting. This led him to make paintings in a loose, painterly style. The fleecy clouds and airy suggestions of clumps of colored leaves convey the essence of a fall day in the country. 

Vocabulary: Child-Friendly Definitions

  • landscape – a picture that shows the outdoors.
  • seasons – the four parts of the year: spring, summer, fall, winter.
  • fall – the season of the year between summer and winter; fall has cooler temperatures and changing leaves.
  • autumn – another name for fall.
  • trunk – the main part of a tree that branches grow out of; often brown.
  • collage – an artwork made by gluing paper or other objects.

Lesson Tips

  • Keep your demonstration brief. Do just enough so students understand the process, then let them begin. 
  • When making art, process is valued over product. Allow children to make their own creative choices.


  • Tap the Magic Tree by Christie Matheson
  • Autumn Walk by Ann Burg
  • Leaf Man by Lois Ehlert
  • Leaves by David Ezra Stein

Home School Resources

Home educators: use these printable lesson PDFs to teach this lesson to your home schoolers. They're available in English and Spanish.

While we believe that the books and resources recommended may be of value to you, keep in mind that these are suggestions only and you must do your own due diligence to determine whether the materials are appropriate and suitable for your use. PNC has no sponsorship or endorsement agreement with the authors or publishers of the materials listed.

Content Provided By

Common Core State Standards Initiative – These lessons are aligned with the Common Core State Standards ("CCSS"). The CCSS provide a consistent, clear understanding of the concepts and skills children are expected to learn and guide teachers to provide their students with opportunities to gain these important skills and foundational knowledge [1]. Visit the CCSS