Introduction to the Art Element “Value”

Students learn about the art element of value by practicing techniques
like blending and shading using charcoal in a value scale and a still life drawing.

Teaching artist:  Wanda I. Leclerc
Grade: 2nd


Lesson:  After an introduction on how to create a value scale, students will draw still life of a single large poppy flower using the technique of blending and shading with charcoal to create value.

Target learning: Learns what charcoal is and where does it come from.

Criteria: Describes how charcoal is a natural material made of burnt wooden sticks.

Target learning: Understands the meaning of value and practices a value scale.

Criteria:  : Blends, shades, and smears with charcoal in to create four values in a horizontal grid and in a sphere from light to dark.

Target learning: Identifies different techniques that show value; including blending, shading, cross-hatching, and stippling.

Criteria: Studies and names techniques seen in various examples and masterpieces from famous artists (includes examples of black and white photography).

Target learning: Creates a range of value (with charcoal) a still life of a very large single poppy flower.

Criteria: Draws a single poppy flower that fills the entire page and shades by blending charcoal from dark to light inside petals and center of flower.

Vocabulary (click here for the glossary)

still life
value scale


-Examples created by teacher
-A Survival Kit for the Elementary/Middle School Art Teacher by Helen D. Hume
-Painting and Drawings by Judy Martin
-Rembrandt by MikeVenezia
-Lines by Philip Yenawine
-Shapes by Philip Yenawine
-Black and white photos


gum erasers, charcoal pencil, vine charcoal sticks, drawing pencil, white drawing paper














Value drawing




Resources introduced and creative process

Teaching artist:

Teaching Artist: Introduces students to a number of new art vocabulary words. First, the art element of “value”, which is a variation or changing of color, ranging from the lightest to the darkest form. At this time also shows an example of a value scale. Second is “charcoal”- which is a natural material made of burnt wooden sticks (shows material). Third is “still life”, which is a still photo or arrangement of objects from everyday life (show examples from reference books). Displays techniques that show differences in value and names the three different techniques: First is blending and shading- making the transition from light to dark (show examples from reference books). The second one is cross-hatching- the intersecting or crossing of lines (show examples from reference books). The third one is stippling-making dots to create light and dark areas (show more examples from reference books).

Demonstrates the making of a value scale on a previously Xeroxed horizontal grid-like form of four two by two inch squares which will be filled with charcoal blending from light to dark. The first square will stay white, the second one will be light gray created by applying and blending the charcoal very lightly, the third one will be dark gray created by applying and blending more charcoal, and the fourth one will be black or the darkest value created by applying the charcoal full strength.

Demonstrates on a previously Xeroxed circle shape, blending and shading with charcoal by first applying charcoal (holding it sideways) around the edge of 2/3 of the circle. Then with two fingers, in a circular motion, blends the charcoal from dark to light, creating a sphere shape. Students then practice making their own value scale and sphere on a xerox copy.

Following the teaching artist step-by-step on a separate piece of paper, students draw a still life of a large single poppy flower (almost covering the entire page). Students will also apply the techniques they learned blending and shading with charcoal to every petal: following a pattern from light to dark. The center of the flower will be the darkest area with pistils coming from the center. In the final step, students will outline the flower with the charcoal pencil and sign their masterpieces proudly!


As we gather back in a semi circle form, we review and I (teaching artist) will ask what was learned in this lesson. What is value?
How do we blend or shade?
Shows examples of famous artist and ask which techniques were used to create value.

Check for:

Understanding of origins of charcoal
Handling of materials as instructed
Exploring of materials and techniques to create a four value scale and a sphere
Completing still life using a range of values from light to dark

Essential learnings

Art 1.1 concept value, line and form.

Art 1.2 skills and techniques: observational drawing, use of charcoal, shading, and blending

Art 2.3 applies previously learned art concepts, vocabulary, skills and techniques through a responding process.