Thursday, September 10, 2015

In the Art Room: Sketchbooks for Kids!

Hey, y'all! I'm so excited to share something that I'm sure many of you already do but I feel like I just discovered: sketchbooks! In the elementary art room! I've never successfully attempted sketchbooks with my students before as I just couldn't figure out how to afford 'em if we bought them and how to make 'em if we didn't buy them. Recently, however, art teacherin' buddy Jane Shores recommended using old manilla folders with paper stapled inside and I was like, ahhhhh, I think we can do that! I'm thrilled to say that my students love the result and have enjoyed working in them. I made a wee video to walk you through the sketchbook-making/how we're gonna use 'em steps. 
 
I hope you can focus on my video and not so much on the fact that I missed a button on my sweater! Geesh. 
 To make our sketchbooks, we used the following:
* Recycled manilla folders. The central office in my district was kind enough to send me a mountain of the ones they were going to otherwise recycle!
* 20 sheets of copy paper per folder. 
* Dollar Store faux-duct tape. Works just as great for half the cost.
* Baseball card sleeves. For holding our Artist Trading Cards, thank you SO MUCH for the idea, Nic Hahn
* Electric stapler. I picked one up off Amazon. Works like a dream going through the folder, papers and sleeve. 
 On the first day of sketchbook making, I gave the kids the folders and told them they could paint their folder either all warm or all cool colors. They could paint fast and furious or delicate and detailed but they had to have it done in 30 minutes. The following art class, when they came to art, I had already stapled the 20 sheets of paper and the baseball card sleeve into the folders. We were ready to start sketching! 
 
 For that we met in the "Jungle Lounge" in the art room (more details on this and my painted window to come). Once the sketchbooks and pencils were passed out, I did a palming activity with the children (video clip below). While their eyes were closed I played my rainstick and told them to imagine a rainstorm in a jungle. What are the animals doing? Is the wind blowing? Is the weather getting worse? When they opened their eyes, they were allowed to sketch at their seats or on the floor but they were not allowed to talk. 
Palming is a great way to chill those kiddos out and help them refocus! Worked like a dream for this sketching activity! 
While they sketched, I called them up to add the duct tape of their choosing to the spine of the book and to create a label. This really was a special moment for them as it really made their sketchbook their own. I was able to catch a glimpse of their sketches as they came to see me. I was floored by their great drawings.
Most of these third grade students sketched without stopping for a good 45 minutes. I did ask them to take a break with me on the floor when I was finished with the taping. We chatted about our experience sketching so far (consensus: they LOVED it!) and how it would look during a normal art class. I plan to use this as an art class starter for the first 5-10 minutes of most art classes...I'll keep you posted. 
At this point, I told the kids about Artist Trading Cards. These are baseball-sized works of art created by artists of all ages. I told the kids that their ATC cards were going to be kept in those baseball sleeves. I have a sign in my room that lists the Topic and the Media for the ATC cards. This week, it was "Tigers" and "Colored Pencils and Sharpies" (yes, we're on a tiger-kick. Lesson details to come!) 
So, those finished with their sketches, were allowed to start their ATC's. 
The great thing about those sleeves is it's the perfect spot to keep unfinished ATC's! 
"In my jungle, a mysterious animals is afraid of the rain and is hiding". ARE YOU KIDDING ME?! Love! 
The kids absolutely loved their sketchbooks and I'm thrilled! I'll definitely keep y'all updated on their progress...but I gotta know:

Do you use sketchbooks in your art room? How? Any tips or tricks? Please share in the comments, friends!

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51 comments:

  1. Oh man! Such a great idea with those recycled folders, my students just used plain ole' construction paper. Now my students are still new to this but we have been having a hard time using it as our starter (5min) quick draw. It could be that I didn't introduce it well enough/it could be that they arnt practiced enough. Question: do you keep them in your art room. Where? My kids are currently keeping them in their tiny portfolios (file folders) because 850 students artwork doesn't fit just anywhere. Also do you keep their artwork? I hope sketchbooks work out for both of us, because I want it to so bad!

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    1. Hi Sarah! Well...I've not tried it as a started YET, we did it as a entire-class-period thing this first go-round. So, I'll keep you posted on how THAT goes. Yes, I'll keep the sketchbooks in my room. I'm only doing this with my 3rd and 4th grade so I only have about 150 sketchbooks. They fit nicely into these plastic labeled bins that I have. I plan to keep them within kid-friendly-reach so early-finishers can sketch in them and do the ATC thing. I do keep ALLLLLL of their art work for our end of the year art show. It's a constant organizational struggle. I'll have to share photos of my room/pretend organization soon ;)

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  2. I do something similar but I don't limit the pages and I make them myself with the help of the good people from Staples. have Staples three hole punch file folders. I buy pre-three hole punch copy paper. And use 1 inch paper fasteners to attach the paper to the folders. This way I can keep adding paper throughout the year as the kids need more. I then store each classes sketchbooks in those cardboard magazine things that you can also get from Staples😀I made about 600 sketchbooks this year for around $100. The kids love them!

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    1. Awesome idea! I was thinking of using those magazine thingies for storage as well...but our books ended up being too thick with an entire class set. Love the idea of being able to add more pages...I'll have to keep that in mind for next year!

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  3. I used them at the end of the period or during a longer transition between projects. I divided my sketchbooks (100 pages) into 4 sections- famous artists, art skills, directed drawing, sketches.

    When we started a new project - we would glue something in to one section depending on what we were doing. I have a small group of students (8 or less per class). I will take the picture of their finished artwork and glue it into that section. Students will have a keepsake at the end of the year.

    During sketch time, they must try to draw something new from one of my sketch books. Then on open art day they choose one of those pictures to create on larger paper with the chosen medium of the day.

    Looking forward to more details.

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    1. WOW!! I love your ideas! Thank you so much for sharing, what fabulous sketchbooks those artists are creating!!

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  4. I do use sketchbooks in art each year, most of my classes are done and they'll all finish building them next week. Sketchbooks are my answer to free draw paper, so that they can instead return each week to drawings they may want to add to. I use 11x17" copy paper and a long reach stapler so that the pages lay flat when they open it. We also use sketchbooks when the kids are making a plan for things like a sculpture project, or thumbnail sketches for drawings. The pages are mostly blank but I do include a few mandalas for the days that they are feeling stuck creatively, or to calm themselves and slow down.

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    1. That sounds great. What grades do you make them with? Do you use a cover or would that be too much to staple thru?

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    2. Love all of the dif ways you use sketchbooks in your art room! I'm so excited about all the opportunities for my kids to use sketchbooks! Thank you for sharing :)

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  5. I use recycled manila folders and 12x18 newsprint and a few sheets of nice white paper then I tied aa piece of yarn around it on a bow and slid the bow to the inside of the book. So I could add morepaper as needed. I only made them for third grade to start class with because they have huge classes this year and need a focusing activity. I also thought I would have them write the steps of their at processes in there for printmaking etc. So it could help them to remember from week to week since I only see them once.

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    1. I love the idea of them recording the steps to a project in their sketchbook!! Thank you, so doing that!

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  6. I like my students to use their sketchbooks as a documentation of sorts. Not just for "free draw" or sketching out ideas for their next project but also to write down vocal words and put handouts in. If we have a practice worksheet or handout, we tape those babies in and they refer back to them throughout the entire year!

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  7. I've used sketchbooks in elementary for years. The kids access them when they're done with their current project and have "nothing" to do. I have a selection of drawing books for them to use along with them, or they may free-draw. Last year I assigned a topic for each page for the upper elementary, but this year I left it open. I think the kids enjoy having more freedom when it comes to their "free time"..... :) I've done construction paper covers, cereal box covers (where we used needle and dental floss to stitch the spine!), and this year I photocopied one of those adult coloring books (adult as in hard, not naughty!) onto 12x18 paper and used that as the cover.

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  8. I use 1-sided "oops" photocopies and card stock (3hole punched) and donated shoelaces. I teach the kids a modified pamphlet stitch. 3rd through 6th grade makes them and uses them for thumbnail sketches, testing materials, and other plans. Some kids also use them for free draw. The pamphlet stitch with the shoelace works great because it is easy for them to do and easy to add pages through the year. I have a fun way I teach it that I can share if anyone is interested.

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    3. Ellen, I am interested... we used yarn to see ours, but a shoelace would save time and needle threading angst... please email me your fun way to teach it at mistyturtle at gmail.com. thanks!

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    4. Ellen, I am interested... we used yarn to see ours, but a shoelace would save time and needle threading angst... please email me your fun way to teach it at mistyturtle at gmail.com. thanks!

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    5. Ellen,
      I'm interested in that stitch. Please email me at driukas@aol.com. Thanks!

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    6. Hi Ellen,
      I hope you still follow this blog post. Could you share your nifty shoelace trick?
      Thanks, Deni

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    7. Hey guys, I notice a couple of you were talking about needle threading angst, just wondering if any of you have tried used pipe cleaners as needles when sewing sketchbooks. I have a teeny tiny budget at my school, so I am always trying to find creative ways to use what I already have in the art room. I have also used masking tape to essentially recreate the plastic part thats on the end of a shoelace to help with sewing sketchbooks. If anyone is interested in either of those methods let me know, and I would be happy to share.

      Also the pamphlet stitch Ellen mentioned is very simple.
      1) Punch three holes along the spine of your book.
      2) Cut a piece of yarn roughly 3 times the length of the spine of your students sketchbook.
      3) Open the book and thread the yarn through the middle hole. (Thread from the outerspine to the inside of the book.)
      4) Thread the yarn through the top hole. (Thread will be going from the inside of the book to the outerspine.)
      5) Next thread the yarn through the bottom hole, from the outerspine, back to the inside of the book.
      6) Thread the string back through the middle hole, to the outerspine.
      7) Tie a knot, incorporating the string running along the spine, and cut off the excess.

      If anyone has any other questions let me know ! :) Us art teachers have to stick together !!!

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  9. Everyone's ideas here are super! I last did sketchbooks with elementary level when I got several years ago a book- making grant. I need to use up a bunch of them for one grade level. They are the un-assembled kind with cardboard covers and spiral spines. I get a lot of funding for special projects through www.DonorsChoose.org. I've had 7 projects funded including a large class rug, basic supplies, doc camera, and more. I'll be writing a proposal for sketchbooks in near future! Storage of them is only problem. If anyone has questions about DonorsChoose let me know. I've had great success with it.

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    1. On the Art of Ed a teacher (Jennifer something) was talking about how she does sketchbooks. She gets the boxes which hold folders at stores (I went to Walmart and they had several which were perfect) to store them. From the video it looked like each grade had a folder cardboard bin. I'll be trying this for my classes. I plan on doing this for K-5.

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    2. On the Art of Ed a teacher (Jennifer something) was talking about how she does sketchbooks. She gets the boxes which hold folders at stores (I went to Walmart and they had several which were perfect) to store them. From the video it looked like each grade had a folder cardboard bin. I'll be trying this for my classes. I plan on doing this for K-5.

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  10. My 3-5 graders use a purchased 8.5x5.5" sketchbook (ordered by us, paid for by them). Each student keeps theirs in their classroom cubby and brings it to art class each week (I see them once a week). They use this to practice for their finished piece, free drawing, and we tape in things like a small colored handout talking about six tools artists use (they love when I tell them real artists use these) to create depth. They refer to those handouts throughout the year. When we work in the style of a particular artist, I have them write that artist's name and 'ism' they represent in their sketchbook. So it's used to make drafts, keep important info, and for free draw.

    On the subject of "I'm done, now what?" I came up with somethings that works like a charm. I have a crate with various folders that hold 'how to draw x', as well as coloring sheets, maizes, and word searches. When students are done with the task on hand, they have the option to free draw or take from the "Done" bin. I laminate the 'how to draw' pages so they have lasted for a few years already. There are different levels of difficulty so each child has an opportunity to push themselves if desired.

    Love your blog! I'm new to teaching the k-2 group and have found your projects to be a life saver. Thanks!

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    1. You can see the 'how to draw' sheets on my Pinterest board: Drawing

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  11. Thanks for the shout out, Cassie! My K-7 students LOVE their sketchbooks, especially since they made em themselves :). I will definitely try the artist trading cards -love that idea! I keep the sketchbooks in milk crates (1/grade) under my supply table. Everyone have an awesome artful year!

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  12. Hi Cassie,
    I love this idea.. and I will plan to do this with my 5th graders. Where did you purchase the baseball card sleeves?

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  13. YES! Have been doing sketchbooks for many years and my students always cheer when they get to work in them! Works great when something unexpected comes up and you don't have time to plan for a sub! I have never stapled, though. We just add loose paper as we go- some kids draw way faster.

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  14. turns out walmart online has baseball card sleeves for 100 sheets for 13.69

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  16. This may be a dumb question, but what kind of paint do you use on these covers? All I have is tempera and it will get all over their hands when it's dry...

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    1. This year, we started using Sax Versa Temp sold by Sax Arts and Crafts. They are a School Speciality brand :)

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  17. Happy almost summer! I am curious to know how the sketchbooks worked out for you this year. I would like to use them in place of the dreaded free draw next year. This past school year, I tried something new and had them write in art journals after finishing an art project. They wrote reflections about their artwork such as what they liked/didn't like, what process/materials they used, etc. My intention for the reflection journal was to A. save paper and B. keep them from rushing through their art projects, but I didn't like how much some of the students hated it- some students would do almost anything to get out of writing. I'm hoping a sketchbook (with some optional weekly challenges) will bring back some freedom and joy to free time without giving ME a headache. Thank for any feedback!

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    1. Hey Stephanie! Okay, honest speaking: the kids LOVED their sketchbooks and drawing time...however, we just didn't have the art class time to commit to using them every single class. I loved having the extra 5-7 minutes to prep while they drew quietly and it did set a nice tone for the class. HOWEVER, it really started to eat into my instructional and their work time. Would I do it again? I'll have to think about it. I learned that I might only have these students for 30 minutes next year...so the answer might be no if that is the case. Maybe I'll go your route and include some writing and learning sheets? They do not enjoy that in my room either! Ha! xo!

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    2. Thank you for your feedback, Cassie! I think I may try them with 2nd/3rd-5th as an early finisher task rather than a beginning of class activity. Also they can work in them whenever I have a sub. Still thinking...

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    3. Consider a prompt jar. Make a whole bunch of journal ideas, laminate them, and keep them in a jar or container. When a student finishes quality work early, they can pick an idea from the journal jar or work on something they have already started.

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  18. Cereal boxes make really good sketchbook covers too!! I really enjoyed your lesson that you shared in your video, super fun! You sound like an amazing art teacher. :)

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    1. Great idea!! And thank you :)

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  19. Art of Ed had a great sample in their "swag box" of student sketchbooks from Sketch for Schools. Great affordable student sketchbooks for a great range of needs.

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  20. I am going to try to give students a week to make sketchbooks and have it an a bookbinding lesson. How they are bound and how the covers are made are dependent on the grade. Yet, it's a very multimedia type of lesson that I have planned. Any ideas or advice? I love the idea of quick easy sketchbooks, but I also feel like making the sketchbook a book arts project would be fun. I even wish I had the resources to make paper. Figuring that out as well...

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  21. I love the folder idea and trading card idea! Sketchforschools.com worked very well for me last year. I ordered for my 3rd and 4th grade students, 8.5 x 11, 25 80lb papers, $2.30 each. The covers are white so students designed a 3x5 label with their names to stick to the front cover and then were also able to add other drawings to the cover. The binders can be ordered in a variety of colors so that can personalize them as well, and students were able to identify theirs in the racks quickly. I bought wire magazine racks, 2 per class one for boys and one for girls. When students put their books away they stack them on my poster separated boys/girls piles. Their free draws use the front and our in class guided drawings or notetaking starts from the back just to keep it organized. I loved the sense of ownership students had and how several were encouraged to return to a "masterpiece" week after week to add a bit more detail. Others simply experimented with a variety of drawings using the drawing books for ideas or imagination. We set drawing goals at the beginning of the year which were revisited periodically. I am working of some weekly drawing prompts for students who need some direction. I am also looking into using the app Seesaw to allow students to upload their drawings, comment on them, and share them at home. Has anyone used this? Please share if you have good ideas for prompts for 3-5th grade, or ideas for showcasing sketchbook work. Thank you!

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  22. I love the folder idea and trading card idea! Sketchforschools.com worked very well for me last year. I ordered for my 3rd and 4th grade students, 8.5 x 11, 25 80lb papers, $2.30 each. The covers are white so students designed a 3x5 label with their names to stick to the front cover and then were also able to add other drawings to the cover. The binders can be ordered in a variety of colors so that can personalize them as well, and students were able to identify theirs in the racks quickly. I bought wire magazine racks, 2 per class one for boys and one for girls. When students put their books away they stack them on my poster separated boys/girls piles. Their free draws use the front and our in class guided drawings or notetaking starts from the back just to keep it organized. I loved the sense of ownership students had and how several were encouraged to return to a "masterpiece" week after week to add a bit more detail. Others simply experimented with a variety of drawings using the drawing books for ideas or imagination. We set drawing goals at the beginning of the year which were revisited periodically. I am working of some weekly drawing prompts for students who need some direction. I am also looking into using the app Seesaw to allow students to upload their drawings, comment on them, and share them at home. Has anyone used this? Please share if you have good ideas for prompts for 3-5th grade, or ideas for showcasing sketchbook work. Thank you!

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  23. Cassie, I am thinking about starting this idea of sketchbooks with my classes. Do you create them with all grade levels?

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    1. I did it with 3rd and 4th since they have art for an hour :)

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  24. My school is all Kinders to 2nd and I use the sketchbooks for 1st and 2nd graders. I started using them in a way to create real authentic assessments in the art room. To make them, I use a piece of 12x18" construction paper as the cover - this is nice becuase you can color code in any way that works best for your organization. I fill it with 20-25 sheets of computer paper and run it through the electric hole punch. Then, I use paper fasteners. I use my sketchooks for generating ideas for TAB units and also for my SLOs and assessments. If I want a baseline assessment, I can create it and add it into the sketchbook by just adding the holes. Since it's a book, everything is in order, so it's very easy to monitor progress for formative assessments. It's really nice to be able to open the sketchbook up to add or remove sheets and to monitor their artistic thinking and self-reflection in these books. If I come up with something mid-year... just open up the fasteners and stick the sheet in!

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  25. Omgsh I love this idea! Thank you so much for posting this! I am leaving next week to teach art in Thailand and was trying to figure out how in the world Id be able to use sketch books with my students! This will be perfect!

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  26. I am loving all of your ideas and taking advice from you all. We are currently making sketchbooks with my after school clubs (KS2 children) we haven't yet put the actual sketchbooks together, the children have just been creating art to go inside them, including line drawing, still life, we made feather quills and drew with ink, then they drew large chalk pastel drawings. They have also made a front name page in the style of Matisse cut outs. Not too sure how I'm gonna put all their work together in their sketchbooks as yet, I'm thinking using treasury tags perhaps. I'd be grateful for any advice on that!

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  27. What did you use to get the great textures and lines in the paint on the covers?

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Thank you so much for your comments. I appreciate each and every one :)