Sketchbook project: Creating Value with Paint. Art lesson for kids

Sketchbook Project #1: Creating Value





The Sketchbook Project is a record of how my sixth grade students used sketchbooks during their art class to record art information and create projects. Learn how I used sketchbooks instead of individual sheets of paper to teach art & creativity.

The Sketchbook Project Lesson #1 Creating Value

Week One: The Beginning

Today’s Project: Creating Value

Teaching color theory is an ongoing process. I never really got a grasp on it until I was in college. And here we are, trying to teach little kids tints, shades, tertiary colors, complementary colors, etc. It can be a bit overwhelming, right? And for some, understanding color theory is unnecessary in elementary school.

I would almost agree.

I can’t tell you how many times I taught children how to make blue denim by mixing blue and black paint together.

Or how to make cherry blossom pink by adding white to red and then adding a touch of orange.

And what about stormy sea with orange and blue? So pretty!

To start off the 6th grade Sketchbook Project, I knew creating value with TINTS & SHADES would not only be eye-opening but fun. 

The Sketchbook Project Lesson #1 Creating Value

I’m not a huge fan of worksheets in the art room but in this case, worksheets are a great tool for practicing. I created a worksheet for you to copy onto white cardstock so that your students can paint directly onto the cardstock.

You can download your FREE worksheet by clicking the yellow dot in the banner below.

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I love the process of creating your own charts in a sketchbook. That’s what my students did. They followed my example on the white board and made two columns of 5 blocks/rectangles in their sketchbooks.

At the very top, we wrote out a definition of VALUE.

I offered the kids 6 choices of colors (red, blue, yellow, orange, green and purple) plus white and black.

In the first column, they painted one color in the middle rectangle. Then, they added white to the color and painted the resulting color in the rectangle above. They mixed more white and added the resulting color in the top rectangle.

Clean the brush and repeat, but this time, use black and color in the bottom two rectangles.

They cleaned their brushes and switch to a new color and painted the rectangles in the second column.


The worksheet offers you more opportunity to paint more tints and shades with creating value than what my students did in the classroom. Many kids took a long time creating their charts with a marker before diving into the painting, so that’s a good enough reason just to use the worksheets!

The Sketchbook Project Lesson #1 Creating Value

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Your Turn:

What’s your FAVORITE art project to teach TINTS & SHADES? 

Do you worry about teaching color theory or is painting freely enough?

Share your ideas and comments below…

The Sketchbook Project Lesson #1 Creating Value

Missed the first installment of the Sketchbook project? Click to return to The Sketchbook project: The Beginning 

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  • Lucy

    I do tints and shades with third grade. We paint abstract monochromatic paintings. I give them one color plus black and white and they have to fill their whole paper (usually only 6 by 6″ given the 45 minute time frame) with as many different versions of their hue/color as they can. Circle and dot paintings work great.

    And we use the following to remind us of which is which:
    (Use the vowel to help you remember)

  • Lucy

    Oops, I hit tab and posted too quick!
    hUe – pUre color
    tInt – color plus whIte
    shAde – color plus blAck
    tOne – color plus bOth black and white (but can also be made with a complimentary)

    • hanaogg@gmail.com

      Wow! This is helpful. I’ve had a hard time remembering this myself, let alone my students. Thanks!

  • rob.artmom@gmail.com

    GREAT IDEA! Love the low cost (I have NO budget at all but hopefully I can do this!)
    Thanks for The Sketchbook Project.

  • Wells

    Love your worksheet – a real time saver for children. My favorite tints & shades lesson is a bit involved, but great to teach form, value, and color. We create a 5 piece paper sculpture first out of white paper (usually a conical shape plus a few strands mounted on a piece of cardstock). Then we draw a pencil sketch to create a value drawing. Next we mix tints, shades, and tones and create a monochromatic painting of the sculpture.

    • Patty Palmer

      Wow. That sounds amazing, and I love how it ties all the art elements together. Thanks for telling us about it.

  • barbydcahill@gmail.com

    Hi Patty,
    I have always loved working with children & art. I came upon your website In 2013 just when
    I got tired of all the prep & supplies needed for my at-home seasonal children’s workshops &
    changed directions. I was ready to paint seriously myself & have been painting in oils and acrylics ever since. I work in my backyard studio but I still yearn to work with kids again.
    (My true incentives are Arch & Ivy, my twin 2 yr old grandkids who I see a lot!!). I do periodic
    art sessions in my studio with the very creative ten-year old triplets next door. I do not have a teaching education background so this time around, with your resources, I am hoping to teach art lessons more effectively and efficiently. Any suggestions?
    In order to continue painting seriously I would like to structure a yearly calendar that involves
    children’s workshops in my studio but does not consume all my time.

  • studio30janine@gmail.com

    Hi Patty

    I came across your website while searching for new art projects and I just love it! I live in South Africa so obviously with our exchange rate it will take me a little longer to save for your Art 101 class, but I am determined! I love your podcast’s and all the helpful info you share. So a very big THANK YOU

    • Patty

      LOVE that you are teaching in South Africa. Love how connected dour worlds are!

  • Fred

    Hello Patty, my name is Fred from Tanzania, teaching Art from kinder to Grade 6, I have been looking for easy way of teaching all classes with different projects and I found DSS as the big help and reduced my confusions, I found that teaching Children through projects is a cross cutting activity as you could cover more art elements, than teaching them individually.
    The issue of resources is no more an obstacle, with your projects it works smoothly

    • Patty

      Hey Fred! Glad you’re here. I love teaching group as well. The dynamics are quite fun, right?

  • aros@vvisd.org

    so making our own books using copy paper really isn’t ideal for painting in?? I have limited limited limited funds.

    • aros@vvisd.org

      and if I buy what size is best…9×12 or 8.5 x11

  • Debbie

    I think that you need to add more explanation for the use of the tints and shades. i notice you only use the chart. I would love some more info about the line drawings and what medium the students use.

  • Jennifer

    Hello, I would love to download the resources but the link did not work. Is there another way to access them? Thanks do much for your hard work 🙂

    • Bethany

      Hi Jennifer, this is Bethany from Team Sparkle. Thanks so much for letting us know. We are working to fix the link. You can check back soon or reach out to support at support@Deepspacesparkle.com.

  • Cheryl Seif-Regan

    Hello I’m Deep Space sparkle member, do we have access to the Sketchbook projects I was hoping to start sketchbook with my 5th graders. There is no download when you click on the yellow buttons/links are not active. Thank you for all your resources they make things so much easier! Cheryl

    • Bethany

      Hi Cheryl! This is Bethany from Team Sparkle. Thanks so much for letting us know about the link. We are working to fix this asap. You can check back soon or reach out to support at support@Deepspacesparkle.com

    • Patty

      Hi Cheryl! Patty here…we added a special lesson for the Sketchbook project inside the Gold Star Bonus Bundle. While this is not available to all members, if you are a Gold Star member, you can access it through your My Bundle pages.
      One thing you can do if you don’t have access, is to reach out to other Sparklers in the Facebook community for ideas on what to do in your class. There are so many projects that would fit beautifully for your Sketchbook unit.

  • Samantha Shantz

    The link to the handout does not work “page not found”. Is there a work around?
    Thanks in advance

    • Bethany

      Hi Samantha! You’re right. We apologize for that. We’ll get it fixed shortly.

  • rosette

    look great 🙂

  • Seema+Shahzad


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