Oh Sketchbooks, how I love thee! Why do I believe that sketchbooks are so important in the elementary art room? Well let’s go ahead and count the ways shall we?
1. No Pressure
The beauty of a sketchbook is that it provides students with a safe place to explore their ideas, practice new skills and make mistakes without the fear of judgment from others.
Whether it’s growth in skills or creativity, I love being able to my students’ growth as an artist in one space. Of course, portfolios are also great for seeing growth but there’s something about seeing that gradual process all in one space. When students are able to see that growth themselves, it reinforces that practice = improvement in their skills. Sketchbooks are also the perfect place to have students practice a skill before beginning a final project instead of using scratch paper or worksheets.
3 . Provides a Sense of Ownership!
Sketchbooks provide a special and private space for students to create in. I love when my students customize their sketchbooks and allow their personalities to shine through their work. Sketchbooks can become a visual journal for students and they love the way having their own personal book feels.
4. Perfect Early Finisher Activity.
This is my one and only early finisher activity. And it saves me sanity when I start to hear the “I’m doneeee, now what can I do?” The answer is always, “Go grab your sketchbook”. There is rarely free draw time but rather students can choose a “Prompt Stick” to pick and draw from in their sketchbooks. Kids love the direction but also the freedom to interpret the prompt in their own way. Or I may give them the task of drawing a portrait of their neighbor, a still life of the art supplies on their table... the point is-it all goes in their Sketchbook. This way I’m not burning through paper or scrambling to come up with early finisher activities that can sometimes be more enticing to the students than the project itself.
5. Instills an Appreciation for Art.
In my experience, sketchbooks help instill a lifelong love and appreciation of art in students. As soon as we finish making our books at the beginning of the year, at least one student in every class asks “Can we take these home today?!” Even my most reluctant artists who are not always engaged in the projects squeal in excitement when I announce that we are having a sketchbook day. There is something about having your own special book to create that really resonates with kids.
I hope that you will consider giving sketchbooks a chance in your art room. I think that you will be pleasantly surprised at how much your students absolutely love them!
To learn about the simple way I create sketchbooks with my students, you can click here! Also, if you’re looking for a list of drawing prompts for students to draw in their sketchbooks, you can download my prompt list for free here!