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Sketchbook Ideas for Elementary
Compiled from ArtsEdNet Talk mailing list
Grades: 1 to 6
Input from Art Teachers
I have found that my students work more in the Sketchbooks they make themselves. So therefore I always begin the year by having them make their sketchbooks. For the youngest ones they are very simple and not so many pages. For the older ones we make hard covers for them and usually we do printmaking on the paper we glue on to the hard cover. We also make pens out of bamboo sticks.
As far as favorite things to draw there are many.
Sometimes we take time to keep a colour diary in the sketchbook of the colours in the sky at the same time everyday for a week. Close up drawings from different parts of their gardens or other outdoor places are also fun. The family members and friends, their shoes or other specific things. For the young ones, their favorite toys or stuffed animals.
From Rosa Juliusdottir
Sketchbook ideas one art teacher has used:
1. List 10 things a color such as red reminds you of.
2. Look at Van Gogh's Bedroom. What objects are paired? When you look at this painting do you get the impression that the artist was a happy person with many friends? Why? What kind of mood has he created?
3. Draw your greatest fear.
4. When do you get angry and why? Draw a picture of yourself with an angry expression.
5. Draw things that float.
6. Draw things with wheels.
7. Draw things that roll.
8. Draw things that close.
9. Draw things that come from eggs.
10. Be an ant- describe and draw what you would see.
11. If you had a candy bar named after you,what would it look like and what would it be called?
12. If I had been a pilgrim, I would have looked like this.
13. If you were a flower, what kind would you be? Draw a picture of yourself as this flower.
14.Express in a drawing your happiest moment in the past year.
15. Express in a drawing something you are good at.
16. If I could be any color, I'd be____ because...
17. Draw a picture of something you'd like to become better at.
18. Using any type of line or shape, create a picture with only the 3 primary colors.
From Sandy Poos (archives 9/13/96)
Grades 1 to 8
1. An alien spaceship has landed in the schoolyard. Draw a picture of it.
2. High in the Himalayan Mountains lives an abominable snowperson. Draw what the snowperson look like.
3. You have made a startling discovery while skin diving! Draw what it is!
4. Have you ever been to the circus? Draw a picture of your favorite act, with yourself as the ringmaster!
5. Draw a picture of your Mother or Father at work.
6. Draw a picture of your shoe, overlapping three different views on the same page.
7. Draw a picture of your pet.
8. Fill a page with drawings of bugs, sea shells, or something you collect.
9. Draw a family member or a friend from memory.
10. Draw a picture of yourself as you think you might look in ten years.
11. Have you ever had a daydream instead of doing your work? Draw a picture of a daydream.
12. Draw a picture of your house and yard, then draw a big dinosaur in the yard!
13. What is the best story your grandparents tell about the old days? Draw a picture of it.
14. Draw a picture of your favorite part about school.
15. What does your dream car look like?
16. What does the bogeyman look like?
17. If you could cast a magic spell, what would it be? Draw a picture of it.
18. The famous American Pop artist Andy Warhol said, "Everyone will have at least fifteen minutes of fame in their lifetime." Illustrate your fifteen minutes of fame.
19. A new musical group has asked you to design a CD cover for them that illustrates their music. Be sure that your design is original and does not use any other group's images!
20. Draw a picture of your dream house. You are rich, so include anything you want in this house.
From Mark Alexander (archives 9/1/97)
Grades 3 to 5
I teach K-5. My 3,4,and 5th graders have sketchbooks. I love them and the kids love them. I am constantly showing them my sketchbooks and drawings and they show me theirs. I give homework to my students for them to do in their sketchbooks. Here are some ideas I have used in the past.
1. What is art?
3. Draw your window.
4. A Value scale. Still life using as many of the grays as you can.
5. Design your own bedroom ( a floor plan)
6. What would you put in that room, where would you put it, how would you put it.
7. Think of three different animals. Draw the head of one, the body of the second one, and the legs of the third one. Name it.
8. Camouflage something (a bug on a leaf, you in your room, a lizard on a rock) by texture or color.
9. Draw yourself screaming.
10. Sequence drawings. A vampire turning into a bat and flying away, three frogs playing leap frog and the last one falls into a hole, flower growing. These are great later in a zoetrope or a flip book format, animation on a computer.
11. Draw yourself at 16 years old, 30 and 80 years old. Triptych
12. Draw the silliest thing you ever saw.
13. Draw someone picking something up.
14. Draw the Thinker as an animal.
15. Distort something. A short fat pencil. A glue bottle the thickness and length of a pencil. A ruler made with curved lines ( not a bad idea). Great for adjectives. You could start by students listing adjectives and then pick two + an object and draw what it might look like. Kind of like visual "MadLib".
From Nancy Knutsen (archives 9/12/96)
Grades 4 and 5
• Book: Sketch-books: Explore and Store, by Gillian Robinson ISBN: 0-435-07018-5. excellent information affirming the use of sketchbooks. The implementation of sketchbooks is difficult work if done consistently. Supplies to assemble: about $1300 for 500 students.
My 4th and 5th grade students use the journal for
• notes on project procedure, including the nifty handouts from School Arts if applicable
• word searches which include the vocabulary of the unit being taught for reinforcement
• ongoing sketching using still life set ups in the room
• self evaluation and critiques
• When we do color mixing and exploration, students cut and paste samples in the sketchbook
• also samples of tie dye, batik, printmaking etc.
We really put a lot of good "stuff" in the sketch-book. It is such a good hands-on documentation for them to refer to and a great resource to share with the parents.
from Barbara (rboville)
1. Making it. We begin by folding a 12 x 18 sheet of paper in half, then gluing subsequent pages inside with a thin line of glue to the front cover, or most recent page. I order and use 8 ½ x 11 copy paper for this purpose. We can always add pages, as needed, to the sketchbook in this manner.
2. Cover designs. Examples: Who Am I? pictorial statements about the student, i.e., sports, hobbies/leisure activities, accomplishments, food preferences, pets, 6th grade. Name Design (typography) 5th grade. Portrait, Landscape, or Still Life, 4th grade.
3. Transition (from playground/classroom). Class begins with 6 minutes of "Silent Draw" time. At the beginning of the year, I introduce this time as mental exercise for the right side of the brain, and as a visual diary.
4. More Art Starters. Reproducible pages from "School Arts," or idea stretchers such as: imagine yourself/your world as a bug, a bird, an alien, etc.
5. Art History/Study Guides. I compile information about an artist, or period, or style of art (that we may be studying), and type this up. Sometimes, I'll photocopy a picture of the artist, or artwork, and include it as a small thumbnail print with the text. Students take turns reading aloud in class, and every student then has his/her own copy for future reference.
6. Demonstrations. Feature placement, shading, 3D drawing, perspective; these are just some of the topics that, as I demonstrate, the students practice in their sketchbooks.
7. Idea Refinement. Thumbnail sketches for assigned projects.
8. Review. Pop quiz, critiques, or self assessments are written on blank sheets in sketchbooks.
From Cheryl (Ckart)
Grades 5 and 6
Three things the children particularly enjoyed and took very seriously!
1. We had our principal come in and model for us. (The AP came in one time and the librarian too.) We split it up but all were honored to model for us.
2. Outdoor -around the school mini draw time... just don't sit in a fire ant hill!
3. It just so happens that our maintenance man dresses like the holiday certain times of the year... The day he came in like a scarecrow... I nabbed him. Not all classes had him... but it was just one of those things you couldn't pass up.
4. Have a mini still life set up so that kids who are finished early can go work on the still life in their sketchbooks. Also I did not make weekly assignments in the sketchbook. I wanted the sketchbook to be fun, not a burden to them. I also let the class decided on what they wanted to do for an assignment... They would vote: Something out of a window... or on a playground... or in their bedroom.... They were proud to carry them around and were selective with what they put in it. Several really got the hang of putting ideas in it for future work.
A single focus sketchbook called "The/My Special Interest Book" that students were responsible for maintaining throughout the year/semester/quarter. I have assigned such a book for my 6th graders to work on when they are all "done!" We have been in school for three weeks, but already they are showing me their "books" that they will work on as the year goes by. The topics range from horses to Monster trucks, and they can write, draw, add clippings, photos, whatever they want.
Charlotte Griswold (archives 9/1/97)
Also see IAD's Drawing Drawer for other ideas.