Students use tempera paint to create a value scale in the form of an imaginary snake. They decorate the completed painting and use it for the cover of a simple book. 

Required Time

80 Minutes

Grade Level

Grade 3 to Grade 6


Language Arts
Visual Arts


gradation palette pattern tints value value scale zentangle


Crayola Tempera Paint Crayola Washable No-Run Glue Crayola Paint Brushes Crayola Fine Line Markers Bristol Board - 16.5 cm x 30.5 cm (6" x 12") - 2 pieces per student

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VALUE SCALE SNAKE – Mixing Tints - Step One

Step One

  1. Draw a fat snake the full length of the paper.
  2. Divide the snake into about 9 evenly spaced sections.
  3. This will be your value scale.
VALUE SCALE SNAKE – Mixing Tints - Step Two

Step Two

  1. Choose a primary colour and white to work with.
  2. Place a small amount of paint on the palette.
  3. Paint the tip of the snake white.
  4. Then mix a tiny bit of the primary colour into the white to make the palest tint.
VALUE SCALE SNAKE – Mixing Tints - Step Three

Step Three

  1. Gradually add more colour to the tint you just mixed to make the next section slightly darker. 
  2. Continue painting the sections of the scale.
  3. End with the primary colour unmixed.
  4. Allow the painting to dry.
VALUE SCALE SNAKE – Mixing Tints - Step Four

Step Four

  1. Use black marker to decorate the snake with interesting line patterns.
  2. Make up your own or try using Zentangle patterns.
VALUE SCALE SNAKE – Mixing Tints - Step Five

Step Five

  1. Add some glitter glue and other embellishments to complete the snake.
  2. Use this artwork for the cover of a book.
VALUE SCALE SNAKE – Mixing Tints - Step Six

Step Six

  1. Place a popsicle stick at the left end on the snake painting.
  2. Mark 2 dots on the inside edge about 2 cm in from each end of the stick.
  3. Stack papers with the snake painting on top and another piece of Bristol board on the bottom.
  4. Paper clip all the pages together to hold them in place.
  5. Use a paper punch to make holes at the dots.
  6. Make sure the holes go through all the papers.
VALUE SCALE SNAKE – Mixing Tints - Step Seven

Step Seven

  1. Poke an elastic band from the back to the front through one hole.
  2. Place the popsicle stick through the loop of the elastic band at the front.
VALUE SCALE SNAKE – Mixing Tints - Step Eight

Step Eight

  1. Repeat for the other hole to fasten the book together. 
  2. Write colourful stories and poetry in your book.

Learning Goals

Students will be able to:

  • paint a value scale of tints in the shape of an imaginary snake;
  • use line patterns to add interest to their value design;
  • create a simple book using the painting as the cover;
  • demonstrate technical accomplishment and creativity.


Have students:

  • explore other aspects of value using tempera paint to mix shades;
  • collect samples of tints and shades found in magazines and paint chips;
  • encourage them to add to a class collage mural that goes from lightest tints to darkest shades in the shape of an imaginary creature.


  1. Gather materials needed for this lesson. 
  2. Place students in groups of about 6 so they can share the materials.
  3. Download and display the Value Poster available on this website. 
  4. Gather and make available some books about colour theory, for example, A Book About Color: A Clear and Simple Guide for Young Artists, by Mark Gonyea; An Eye for Color: The Story of Josef Albers, by Natasha Wing; and The Big Book of Color: An adventurous journey into the magical & marvelous world of color, by Lisa Martin, and Damien Bar.
  5. Download images from the Internet, e.g.,
  6. Gather sets of paint chips that include at least 5 tints of the same colour - enough for pairs of students to sort them.


  1. Place students in partners.
  2. Provide each pair with a set of paint chips, a strip of paper and either a glue stick or paper clips.
  3. Ask students to sort their colours from lightest to darkest and attach them to the paper strip.
  4. Display the sorted paint chips so everyone can see them.
  5. View and discuss the results.
  6. Introduce or review the concept of value using the poster.
  7. View and discuss an image such as Homer focusing on the range of values in the painting and making connections to concepts in the poster.
  8. Explain that by practicing mixing colours in a specified way students can train their eyes to see subtle differences.
  9. Introduce the challenge.


The Challenge

  1. Paint a value scale of tints in the shape of an imaginary snake.
  2. Use line patterns to add interest to your value design.
  3. Create a simple book using the painting as the cover.
  4. Demonstrate technical accomplishment and creativity.

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:
    - mixed 6 different tints of one colour
    - created a drawing of an imaginary snake
    - used line patterns to add interst to my design
    - created a simple book with the painting as the cover
    - kept the paper in good condition
  3. Demonstrate how little paint is required to change the colour.
  4. Remind students to always add a small amount of colour to the white - not white to the colour.
  5. Guide students through the steps outlined in this lesson plan.
  6. Observe students as they work. 
  7. Provide individual assistance and encouragement.


  1. Place students into small groups.
  2. Ask students to share their paintings with their group.
  3. During the discussion include references to:
    values – the accuracy of each step along the value scale
    - pattern – the use of line to create unique patterns
    - technical accomplishment – things that contribute to the overall effectiveness of the finished painting and book construction


  1. Observe students as they work – thoughtful focus, discriminating, seeking more information, elaborating, experimenting.
  2. Observe students as they discuss their designs – speaks with a clear voice, looks at audience while speaking, holds painting to the side, provides accurate information, answers questions from the audience effectively.
  3. Observe students as they listen – looks at presenter, asks effective questions, supports ideas with evidence found in the painting.
  4. Use a checklist to track progress. (Downloads - Snake_tracking.pdf)
  5. Have students use the self-assessment form to evaluate their work. (Downloads - Snake_self-assessment.pdf)