LOVELY LOONS – Line, Pattern, Balance

Students examine loon illustrations in various books focusing on line and pattern, and then they create their own pictures of loons using watercolour pencil techniques. 

Required Time

120 Minutes

Grade Level

Grade 2 to Grade 6


Language Arts
Visual Arts


balance colour harmony line pattern repetition


Crayola Marker & Watercolour Paper - 22.9 cm x 30.5 cm (9" x 12") Crayola Variety Brush Set - 5 Count Water Containers Paper Towels Small Pencil Sharpeners Green Masking Tape Plastic Placemats - 1 per student

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LOVELY LOONS – Line, Pattern, Balance - Step One

Step One

  1. Tape the paper to a placemat.
  2. Make sure the edges are even and the paper is smooth.
  3. Lightly draw your picture on the paper using regular pencil.
LOVELY LOONS – Line, Pattern, Balance - Step Two

Step Two

  1. Colour a patch of watercolour pencil on a spare piece of paper.
  2. Paint into the patch with a wet paintbrush to pick up the pigment.
  3. Use it to paint directly on the paper.
  4. To make the colours stronger first colour with the watercolour pencil directly on the paper, and then paint water into it.
LOVELY LOONS – Line, Pattern, Balance - Step Three

Step Three

  1. Explore ideas in your sketchbook before using them on your painting.
  2. Dip a watercolour pencil into the water.
  3. Draw directly on the paper with the pencil while it is still wet.
  4. Create patterns in each space by repeating lines and shapes.
  5. Test your patterns on a spare piece of paper before applying them to your painting.
  6. Use a variety of colours and lines.
  7. Make each section different.
LOVELY LOONS – Line, Pattern, Balance - Step Four

Step Four

  1. When you are satisfied with your painting, gently remove the tape.
  2. Place the damp painting under some heavy books to flatten it if necessary.

Learning Goals

Students will be able to:

  • create a picture of a loon using watercolour pencil techniques;
  • use size and placement of shapes to create a balanced composition;
  • use line and colour to create a variety of patterns;
  • demonstrate technical accomplishment and creativity; 
  • support their ideas with evidence found in the works.


Have students:

  • research several illustrators;
  • use a sketchbook to explore different ways to use watercolour pencils inspired by the illustrators;
  • create a personal style inspired by the illustrators;
  • write a story on a theme of their own choosing;
  • illustrate their story using watercolour pencils;
  • bind the story together into a book using the Creating a Simple Bound Book lesson plan available on this website;
  • write an artist statement to explain their process; (Downloads - WriteArtistStatement.pdf)
  • create a mini display of their book, explorations and artist statement.


  1. Prior to this lesson have students explore watercolour pencils using the Exploring Watercolour Pencils lesson plan available on this website.
  2. Download images of loons from the Internet, for example,
    Haliburton Loon
    Pacific Loon
    Common Loons
    Glacier Loons
  3. Teach about the characteristics, habitat and habits of loons.
  4. Display, and make available, a variety of loon books for students to read, for example, The Loon's Necklace, by William Toye, and Elizabeth Cleaver; Mwakwa Talks to the Loon: A Cree Story for Children, by Dale Auge; Loon, by Susan Vande Griek, and Karen Reczuch; Little Loon and Papa, by Toni Buzzeo, and Margaret Spengler; and The Legend of the Loon, by Kathy-jo Wargin, Kathy Jo Wargin, and K. L. Darnell.
  5.  Include some prompt cards to encourage students to examine the illustrations as they read the books. (Downloads - LoonPrompts.pdf)
  6. Download and display the Repetition, Balance, Line and Colour posters available on this website.


  1. Choose a loon story to read to your students.
  2. Note how the illustrator uses colour, pattern and shape to communicate a message.
  3. Look at the composition of the pictures,
    - the placement of figures to create balance
    - the use of repetition to create pattern
    - the use of colour
  4. View several images of loons and compare the picture book illustrations with the photographs.
  5. Look for repeated lines and shapes in the images.
  6. Introduce the challenge


The Challenge

  1. Create a picture of a loon using watercolour pencil techniques.
  2. Use size and placement of shapes to create a balanced composition.
  3. Use line and colour to create a variety of patterns.
  4. Demonstrate technical accomplishment and creativity. 
  5. Support your ideas with evidence found in the works.

The Process

  1. Ensure that everyone understands the challenge.
  2. Establish success criteria with your students, for example,
    I know I am successful when I have:
    - created a picture that looks like a loon
    - used placement and size of objects to create visual balance
    - used light and dark colours to create contrast
    - used a variety of watercolour pencil techniques to get different effects
    - created patterns by repeating lines and shapes
    - kept the paper in good condition
  3. Encourage students to think of the combinations of colours they will use and why.
  4. Encourage them to do several thumbnail sketches before beginning.
  5. Guide students through the steps outlined in this lesson plan.
  6. Observe students as they work. 
  7. Provide individual assistance and encouragement.


  1. Once all the paintings are complete display them for a group discussion.
  2. Remind students of the challenge.
    Look closely at the drawings.
    Choose one that interests you for some reason.
    Share thoughts about the work
  3. During the discussion include references to:
    - watercolour pencil techniques – how different techniques add interest to the painting
    pattern – how repetition of colour and line create patterns 
    balance – how the placement and size of objects creates visual balance


  1. Observe students as they work – thoughtful focus, discriminating, seeking more information, elaborating, experimenting.
  2. Observe students as they discuss their paintings – speaks with a clear voice, looks at audience while speaking, points to areas in the painting, 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 - LovelyLoons_tracking.pdf)
  5. Have students use the self-assessment form to evaluate their work. (Downloads - LovelyLoons_PrimarySelf-assessment.pdf, or LovelyLoons_self-assessment.pdf)