Thursday, November 3, 2011

get your sketch on

Today we rolled out the sketchbooks. Watching the children today I was struck by their attention, it could be seen in their gaze, their hands, and in the quiet of the room. My mind flashed back to last year and to the meaning created in this year-long routine. It is a ritual that brings paper and writing tools to life in a new way for children. As they are given a book all of their own, to use in any way they wish. I was also reminded of last year because it was perhaps the first moment of the year where I felt wasn't the beginning of the year. That's a wonderful feeling to enjoy.

If you are interested in using skectchbooks in your classroom, you can find much inspiration over at bakers and astronauts (which is where I first found the sketch book'n inspiration a few years ago) and many diy sketchbook ideas over at sketchbooks in schools. If you have ideas, please share, I would love to hear how other classrooms use sketchbooks.

Some things to think about before beginning...
Before beginning the routine, I emphasize how special the books are. I do this because I want to encourage children to take their time.  For the most part children really internalize this message and value each page, I do observe carefully and provide a reminder if I see someone breezing through the pages. This usually does the trick.

After some time and practice using sketchbooks, I bring up the idea that sketchbooks are used by many people to express ideas for art and writing. Sketchbooks are very purposeful, they are an outlet for our creative ideas. I don't use a sketchbook unfortunately...but this would be a wonderful time for a teacher to share their own sketchbook! The sketchbooks in schools site has a link to 'artists' books' where you could show children how artists use their sketchbooks. I haven't done this before - but our class will have a SmartBoard in a few weeks so this would be a great way to use it.

For us, this is a daily routine after nap time, it's a calm way to transition to the waking, fully-lit world. Children have the choice of using their sketch books or reading during this time. I find this really works well for our schedule and helps the day flow smoothly.


  1. In my school, the children have sketchbooks that they keep in the Art Studio. (They also have classroom journals- but my world is the atelier) I have copious paper for furious making and practicing. The sketchbooks are for project work (especially plans and ideas), self portraits that I want to archive, and for venturing out in the neighborhood, garden or museums.
    The kids know that most of the museums do not allow photos of the art, so they document (sketch) favorite pieces as a memory to revisit.
    They keep the same sketchbook for 2 years, and love to flip through the pages reflecting and revisiting moments.
    I love how you use sketchbooks when the children are waking from nap. Do the markings differ from more awake times? Just curious.

  2. Hi Marla, thanks for writing! I love the idea of using sketchbooks in the purposeful, archival, manner you do. I have never thought about sending sketchbooks on with the children - to K. I'm wondering how large your books are? Could you tell me the brand?

    As for your question - yes there is a definite difference in the sketching on sleepy/quiet days vs. wakeful/talkative days. That would be an interesting contrast to document. I'll keep my camera handy and report back with some photos soon.

    Thanks again for sharing your inspiring use of sketchbooks in the atelier!



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