Hi Stacie - I don't use sketchbooks at the elementary level, but mainly because of the time it takes to pass them out, collect them, and then pass out supplies for the day's project. I don't assign any homework - kids have never seen art as a routine part of their schedule, and it's not. They see us once, maybe twice a week, and so we are a break from their daily schedule. It is because we are not part of the daily routine that makes it hard for them to remember to bring things to our class, especially homework.
I have made books with upper elementary before as a project. Make the cover like a normal book - 2 pieces of cardboard the same size, the thin strip in the middle. Glue paper on like you would for a typical cover. Instead of sewing the papers in you use a rubber band to secure the pages to the cover - very simple and effective. When I've made books with them I will usually spend a couple of class periods doing some drawing lessons. Figure drawing is fun, a still-life, or a window drawing from life.
I just read Jayna's e-mail, and I agree - they would be great for the early finishers to work in.
My first day with Kinders we do a simple drawing lesson - I show them how to draw a bee, using only yellow and black crayons. I have a little poem "Look at me, busy as a bee, on my first day in art, at Flinthills Primary". It starts them letting them know school procedures, because they will walk in not knowing how to line up, how to sit quietly and listen, how to stay seated - they have never had to do any of this before (well, the few who have had preschool will know).
I have color wheel sheets that we glue on our portfolios - we start off with a gluing lesson, and how it takes only 6 small dots of glue to attach a legal sized sheet of paper to their portfolios. Amazingly, kids consistently want to cover the entire backs of their paper with glue, and they will still use too much and have glue squishing out the sides, even in your upper levels. So even tho the gluing lesson seems pretty low-level, it is a good refresher. Then they color the primary colors, then the secondary. I don't allow any freedom the first day -it is very rigid and establishes a good foundation for the rest of the year. By the second class period we are ready to start our first lesson. I don't like to start an actual lesson the first day because they are in their "beginning of school" mode, and aren't in the mindset to learn anyways.
K-12 Kansas Art Teacher
I'm sure I'm going to be asking a ton of questions in the weeks before my first teaching job starts, but for now I've mostly been reading all of the great ideas that have been circulating. I feel so fortunate to have some sort of support network out there since I don't know any art teachers personally. For now, I have a question about the beginning of school. I'm thinking about making my first project a sketchbook. I've heard that some of you have the kids create their own sketchbooks, and I thought that would be a good starter project. I'm also thinking that I might want the kids to do journal entries in the books as well. I thought I might put a question on the board either every day or once a week that they have to respond to in the first few minutes of class. These would be really open ended questions, asking them how they feel about things. I want to get them thinking. I'd like to assign a sketchbook assignment each week. What kinds of things do you assign as homework?
So, I'm wondering how the kids can make a decent book, something that is relatively simple, that they can make their own, yet something that will last through the year? Also, what ages would be appropriate? Of course, my kindergarteners will be too young to make a sketchbook, but I really don't know about the other grades.
I'm also trying to think of the first day of school. I want to introduce myself, get to know something about the kids, go over procedures and rules, etc...Any neat ideas? It would be nice to let them do something artistic on that first day, something that will tie in to the important things I want to cover...maybe some "getting to know you" project...Any ideas?