💼 DIY Student Art Portfolios 💼
Welcome to one of my favorite days to end of the school year. This is not only a day where you can finally pass back alllllll the student art from the year (def enlist your student helpers) but your students will work totally independently on their portfolio while you do.
Not only will these big ole portfolios will safely transport home all of the gorgeous art your students have made, but having your kiddos create an end of the year portfolio is the perfect opportunity to recognize, and chat about all of the growth your students have made in their artistic practice. Creating portfolios also teaches students how to take more ownership and care of their work, and allows them to transport and store their artwork from the year in a safe place at home where they can refer back to their work and their growth for years to come. Not to mention is it super fun for them to personalize!
Here is How to Make a DIY Student Portfolio:
1. Fold 18 x 24 Manila / tag board paper in half (i just literally order the cheapest biggest paper I can find)
2. Staple 3 x on each side (or just one side depending on how big the art going home is) I usually walk around the room while my students are already decorating their portfolios and staple the sides as they work. That way I don't feel like I have millions of things to prep ahead of time, and I often use their good work habits to my advantage by saying things like "Ok, I'm coming around and stapling the portfolios of the tables that are working the hardest and quietest". BAM. Amazing work habits from my kiddos and I am able to float around, staple and observe.
3. Teach students how to draw their name in bubble letters (and shading their name if they want to). There is just something so empowering about learning how to draw your name in bubble letters, wouldn't you agree? And if you show them how to add shading or highlights? Whewwwww hold onto your hat! They are just BEAMING with pride when they finally "get it"! I have an easy to use "How to Draw Bubble Letters" drawing guide available here that my students just love.
4. Have Students write the year we were in art together (2022- 2023) so that they can easily identify what year they made their artwork.
5. Allow students to draw and customize their portfolios! This can seem tricky because often times when we tell students to draw whatever they want, many struggle with exactly WHAT to draw. So times I will give my students a prompt like "Draw what you are most excited about this summer" Or "Draw what your favorite part of 4th grade was". But you can also give them total freedom! I rarely allowed my students to have "free draw time" so many really enjoyed the freedom.
If students wanted a bit more guidance, I always make all of my Drawing Guides available. There is something about watching my students teach themselves how to draw a specific image on their own that really helps build their confidence. It's like I'm teaching them, but from a distance. Sometimes I will put out a few of my more popular guides out on the tables for anyone who needs them, or leave them out on a counter for kiddos to come up and just grab what they need. Totally up to you! You can find my bundle of Drawing Guides available here!
6. If the portfolio paper you are using is thick, have students trace any pencil lines in either black sharpie markers (we love using huge chisel chip markers for this) OR- if your portfolio paper is too thin, just have them draw in a black washable marker. Otherwise, the sharpie marker may bleed through the paper and worse, onto the students' art if there is already artwork inside. I love using Crayola Construction paper crayons to color with because we typically use colored tag board or manilla paper and the construction paper crayons just pop so vibrantly!
6. While students are busy decorating their portfolios myself and some student helpers (either the students who are early finishers or my star students) help pass back allllllll their work! The kiddos working just open their portfolio, slide in their work and keep decorating their portfolios. It’s a win/win!
If you haven't had your students transport their artwork home in an end of the year portfolio I highly recommend you give it a try! It reinforces the importance of their work (that you should care how safely your art gets home), teaches them how to recognize and celebrate their improvement over the year, and adds importance to their creations by sending them home in such a thoughtful manner.