ANIMAL POEMS – Texture, Colour, Value

Students use tempera paint to create a layered painting of an animal to illustrate a poem they have written. 

Required Time

120 Minutes

Grade Level

Grade 2 to Grade 7


Language Arts
Visual Arts


colour contrast shades texture value


Crayola Paint Brushes Crayola Washable No-Run School Glue Crayola Scissors Crayola Tempera Paint Crayola Marker & Watercolour Paper - 22.9 cm x 30.5 cm (9" x 12") Water Containers Paper Towels

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ANIMAL POEMS – Texture, Colour, Value - Step One

Step One

  1. Find a good photograph of your animal.
  2. Make a viewfinder to focus in on the texture of the animal.
    - Cut 2 'L' shaped pieces of paper.
    - Place them together to frame a section of the picture you want to focus on.
    - Paper clip them in place.
  3. Paint the animal's skin texture on your whole paper using only black, white and grey.
    - Mix black and white together to get different shades of grey.
  4. This will be the background for your painting.
ANIMAL POEMS – Texture, Colour, Value - Step Two

Step Two

  1. On a separate piece of paper paint just the animal. 
  2. Use your photograph as a guide.
  3. Be sure to mix different colours to add details to your painting.
ANIMAL POEMS – Texture, Colour, Value - Step Three

Step Three

  1. Carefully cut out the painted animal.
  2. Glue it on top of the black and white background.
ANIMAL POEMS – Texture, Colour, Value - Step Four

Step Four

  1. View your painting with fresh eyes.
    - What do you notice?
    - What do you like best about your painting? Why?
    - Who would really like this painting? Why?
    - How does the poem you wrote connect with your painting?

Learning Goals

Students will be able to:

  • create a layered painting of an animal to illustrate a poem they have written;
  • use colour mixing and value to create the illusion of texture;
  • demonstrate technical accomplishment and creativity; 
  • support their ideas with evidence found in the artworks.


Have students:

  • use a program such as My Storybook to create a digital class book;
    - take digital photos of the paintings;
    - record themselves reading their poem;
    - add a text version of the poem;
    - combine everything;
  • share their book with others.


  1. Prior to this lesson gather and make available books of poems about animals, for example, National Geographic Book of Animal Poetry: 200 Poems with Photographs That Squeak, Soar, and Roar!, by J. Patrick Lewis (Compiler); Animal Poems, by Valerie Worth; Pug: And Other Animal Poems, by Valerie Worth; Mammalabilia, by Douglas Florian; and Tiger, by William Blake. 
  2. Download animal images from the Internet, for example,
  3.  Have students:
    - Choose an animal to research and find at least one image of the animal. 
    - Explore poetry, and animal poems in particular.  
    - Write a variety of different types of poems about their animal focusing on different aspects of the creature, for example, acrostic; haiku; cinquain; rhyming couplets; shape; diamante; I wish; limerick.


  1. Have students share some of their poems while their peers listen with their eyes closed.
  2. Discuss the imagery.
  3. View images of a variety of animals paying attention to the texture of their fur/skin.
  4. Demonstrate how to use a viewfinder to isolate some of the textured surface. (2 L-shaped pieces of cardstock paper placed together to make a small frame)
  5. Demonstrate how to use black and white paint to mix shades of grey to paint a patch of the texture on a chart paper.
    - Point out how to use the tip of the brush to get fine lines and the side of the brush to get thicker strokes.
  6. Introduce the challenge.


The Challenge

  1. Create a layered painting of an animal to illustrate a poem you have written.
  2. Use colour mixing, and value to create the illusion of texture.
  3. Demonstrate technical accomplishment and creativity.
  4. Support your ideas with evidence found in the works.

The Process

  1. Make sure everyone understands the challenge.
  2. Establish success criteria with your students, for example,
    I know I am successful when I have:
    - created background texture with different shades of grey
    - painted the animal with mixed colours
    - created details that represent characteristics of the animal
    - cut out the animal carefully
    - glued the animal to background so it is flat and smooth
  3. Guide students through the steps outlined in this lesson plan.
  4. Observe students as they work. 
  5. Provide individual assistance and encouragement.


  1. Place students into small groups with their paintings. 
  2. Ask them to: 
    - Compare their work and describe to each other what they did to get certain effects.
    - Discuss the things that are especially effective and why.

    - Talk about what they like best about their paintings and why.
    - Explain how their painting connects to their poem.
  3. Share ideas with the whole class. 
  4. Ask some students to read their poem while showing their painting. 


  1. Observe students as they work – thoughtful focus, discriminating, seeking more information, elaborating, experimenting.
  2. Observe students as they discuss their paintings – active listening, insightful contributions, supporting ideas with evidence found in the artwork and from personal experience.
  3. Use a checklist to track progress. (Downloads - AnimalPoem_tracking.pdf)
  4. Have students use the self-assessment form to evaluate their work. (Downloads - AnimalPoem_self-assessment.pdf or AnimalPoemPrimary_self-assessment.pdf)