I'm glad to see so many elementary teachers considering sketchbooks. The
sketchbook is part of my curriculum at all levels in the high school
program, and as an Advanced and AP teacher I stress the importance. For some
competitive art schools, the sketchbook can be a deciding factor.
The sketchbook is not a collection of homework assignments. It is a visual
journal. It is a place to record initial responses to problems. It is a
place to record research and show a thinking process-- how does a work
evolve. It is a place to collect. It is a place for future ideas as well as
reflection on what has been accomplished. It's a place for thoughtful
doodling; a place for personal "meanderings." And of course, we have to
teach that as well as model it.
Observational drawing is essential. Starting that in elementary is great.
But they need the imagination place too. Can you extend observation to
imagination? The Ken Veith popcorn drawing is a good example-- draw the
popcorn then see what the popcorn drawing can become. I think most of us
would agree that 'abstraction ' comes from transforming the observed. Give
lots of sketchbook prompts that are about the metamorphosis.
In the past, many on this list have generously provided lengthy lists of
sketchbook prompts that are both observational and imaginative. Check the
But always remember. The sketchbook is not for you. They have to feel
ownership or else they won't do it. Let them have pages that are theirs to
Thanks to all of you who are starting the process at the early ages. It's