Grade Level

7-8, 9-10, 11-12


7 periods, 45 minutes in length


Pencil, eraser, Ultra and Fine tip sharpies or Micron pens (Black, 01, 03, 05). Ideally, permanent markers so it doesn’t smudge or bleed. I purchased heavy 8.5x 10 inch cardstock and cut it to 8 inch squares. White out pen.



Lesson Objectives

For the student to explore line, line weight and patterns.

For the students to experience the meditative aspects of drawing.

For the students to understand and display the principals of design, specifically contrast, balance, repetition, rhythm, pattern, unity, and variety. Students will consider balancing patterns of varying values to create a thoughtful composition in their zentangle inspired design.

Introductory Activity

I have students sketch several small (about 3 inch by 3 inch designs) squares in their sketchbook. I ask them to draw four points near but not in the corners. They then connect those lines with a flowing line. They can loop the line, curve it, etc as long as it is flowing (curving, no straight lines or edges, corners, etc). Inside the out edges you created, draw a light pencil line or lines going from one side to the next to divide your composition. Inside the divides will be your patterns. You can set a minimum amount of spaces students must have.

I have students practice doing several and they access for what shapes they feel work best.

Another class we look and practice some patterns. There is a ton of patterns and tutorials out there. I assign them homework to look at them and print some examples for themselves. I keep a folder of available patterns for students to reference through the project.

We also talk about the meditative and therapeutic aspects of art. How it can be relaxing to feel it grow and the comfort of predictable patters We also acknowledge that art can be stressful also- “Is it going to look good? Did I make the right choice? What if I mess up?” and talk about strategies to combat those thoughts. I also keep a white out pen around for the inevitable errors. I find there are few that end up being noticeable and on occasions we have scanned a piece, removed an error and printed out on cardstock. They reproduce beautifully.

I make a point of discussing the difference between actual Zentangles and what we accomplish in class. Zentangles are much smaller (3.5 x 3.5) and use what they call  “Elemental Strokes” and are “non-representational and unplanned.” We actually do a lot of planning with ours and while I touch on the meditative aspects, I focus more on the end project then I suspect those who are true “Zentanglers.”

Lesson Process

Once we go through the introductory activities, students are ready to start on their “good” sheets. Students should start with a sharp pencil and draw lightly. I do not make them draw every pattern in pencil, just enough to feel like they “got it.” Students keep their sketchbooks near by and try out the micron pens to see which size works best in their sketchbooks.


value, repetition, composition, balance, contrast, unity, line, variety, meditation, patter, zen, zentangle

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