ANIMAL FABLES – Contrast, Pattern, Mixed Media

Students create a mixed media artwork to illustrate an animal from a fable of their choice.  

Required Time

120 Minutes

Grade Level

Grade 3 to Grade 8


Language Arts
Visual Arts


composition contrast fable mixed media moral pattern repetition


Crayola Fine Line Markers, 24 Count Crayola Mini Twistable Crayons, 24 Count Crayola Washable Glue Sticks Crayola Scissors Crayola Marker & Watercolour Paper, 22.9 cm x 30.5 cm (9" x 12") Rulers Recycled Magazines Pencils

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ANIMAL FABLES – Contrast, Pattern, Mixed Media - Step One

Step One

  1. Draw a border the width of a ruler around your paper.
ANIMAL FABLES – Contrast, Pattern, Mixed Media - Step Two

Step Two

  1. Print a copy of the picture of your animal. 
  2. Cut out the head and part of the shoulders.
  3. Place it so that a small part goes over the edge of the frame.
  4. Make sure there is enough room to draw the rest of the animal inside the frame.
ANIMAL FABLES – Contrast, Pattern, Mixed Media - Step Three

Step Three

  1. Use a fine line marker to draw the rest of the animal.
  2. Add details in the negative space that connect with your animal in some way.
  3. Repeat lines and shapes to create a variety of patterns.
  4. Find letters in magazines to spell out the name of your animal, and the key words for the moral of the story.
  5. Place the letters to see how they fit.
  6. Check to be sure you have the correct spelling.
ANIMAL FABLES – Contrast, Pattern, Mixed Media - Step Four

Step Four

  1. Use Twistables crayons to colour the background.
  2. Blend some of the colours using at least 2 different colours together in the same space.
  3. Use black fine line marker to fill the body of your animal with patterns.
  4. Carefully glue the letters in place.

Learning Goals

Students will be able to:

  • create a mixed media artwork to illustrate an animal from a fable of their choice;
  • use size, contrast and space to create a dynamic composition;
  • use repetition to create a variety of patterns;
  • demonstrate technical accomplishment and creativity; 
  • support their ideas with evidence found in the works.


Have students:

  • rewrite the fable set in modern times;
  • create a digital book of their retelling of the fable;
  • use a photo editing program such as Photoshop to compose illustrations for their fable;
  • share their fables with each other.


  1. Prior to this lesson you may want to have your students do the Exploring Crayons techniques lesson available on this website.
  2. Gather, and make available, books about famous fables, for example, The Classic Treasury of Aesop's Fables, by Don Daily; Fables, by Arnold Lobel; Animal Fables from Aesop, by Barbara McClintoc; and The Fables of Aesop, by Edward J. Detmold.
  3. Have students learn about fables and select one to work with. 
  4. Download and display the Elements of Art and Principles of Design posters available on this website.
  5. Have students download and print an image of their animal.
  6. Create a partially completed example.


  1. Have students share some of the information they have found about their fables and the animals in the stories.
  2. Discuss the things that might be included in a picture of one of the animals, for example, a tortoise.
    - tall grass
    - flowers
    - rocks
  3. Discuss how to create a dynamic composition,
    - draw the subject really big
    - draw several medium sized objects  around the big object that help give it more meaning 
    - add lots of small elements to move the eye through the composition
  4. Show your partially completed example pointing out key concepts.
    - frame
    - placement of partial animal photo
    - size and placement of animal body so it breaks the frame a some spot 
    - patterning around frame
    - torn/cut out magazine letters for name and moral 
  5. Introduce the challenge.


The Challenge

  1. Create a mixed media artwork to illustrate an animal from a fable of your choice.
  2. Use size, contrast and space to create a dynamic composition.
  3. Use repetition to create a variety of patterns.
  4. Demonstrate technical accomplishment and creativity.
  5. Support your ideas with evidence found in the artworks.

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 a dynamic composition within a border
    - made the subject break the border at some point
    - used magazine letters for text
    - created effective patterns
    - used contrast effectively
    - paid attention to detail
    - kept the paper in good condition
  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. 
  2. Ask them to: 
    - Share their work and discuss the things they learned about fables.
    - Discuss the things that are especially effective in the drawings and why.

    - Talk about what they found difficult and what they found easy to do.
  3. Share ideas with the whole class. 
  4. Ask students to tell how they felt about doing this project.


  1. Observe students as they work – thoughtful focus, discriminating, seeking more information, elaborating, experimenting.
  2. Observe students as they discuss their pictures – speaks with a clear voice, looks at audience while speaking, points to areas in the picture, 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 artwork.
  4. Use a checklist to track progress. (Downloads – Fables_tracking.pdf)
  5. Have students use the self-assessment form to evaluate their work. (Downloads – Fables_self-assessment.pdf)