FYI Here is one list that I saved. Hope it helps! Judy
----- Original Message -----
From: Nagel, Judy <JNagel@Saxarts.com>
Sent: Tuesday, August 03, 1999 8:17 AM
Subject: FW: Sketchbook ideas-compiled
From: lindacharlie <firstname.lastname@example.org>
To: ArtsEdNet <email@example.com>
Subject: Sketchbook ideas-compiled
Date: Mon, 2 Aug 1999 21:30:43 -0500
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Here are the compiled sketchbook ideas sent in recently plus some from
the archives that seemed to fit. They're organized (sort of) in order
from lowest grade levels to highest. I know I'll find these very helpful
as I do this for the first time. Thanks loads to everyone who
Linda in Michigan
Grades 1 to 6
I have used:
1. list 10 things a color such as red reminds you of.
2. Look at Van Gogh's bedroom. What objects are paired? When you look at=20
this painting do you get the impression that the artist was a happy=20
person with many friends? Why? What kind of mood has he created?
3. Draw your greatest fear.=20
4. When do you get angry and why? Draw a picture of yourself with an
5. Draw things that float.
6. Draw things with wheels.
7. Draw things that roll.
8. Draw things that close.=20
9. Draw things that come from eggs.
10. Be an ant- describe and draw what you would see.
11. If you had a candy bar named after you,what would it look like and
what would it be called?
12. If I had been a pilgrim, I would have looked like this.
13. If you were a flower, what kind would you be? Draw a picture of
youself as this flower.
14.Express in a drawing your happiest moment in the past year.
15. Express in a drawing something you are good at.
16. If I could be any color, I'd be____because........
17. Draw a picture of something you'd like to become better at.
18. Using any type of line or shape, create a picture with only the 3
from Sandy Poos (archives 9/13/96)
I have found that my students work more in the sketchbooks they make
themselves. So therefor I always begin the year by having them make
sketchbooks. For the youngest ones they are very simple and not so many
pages. For the older ones we make hard covers for them and usually we do
printmaking on the paper we glue on to the hard cover. We also make
of bamboo sticks.
As far as favorite things to draw there are many.
Sometimes we take time to keep a colour diary in the sketchbook of the
colours in the sky at the same time everyday for a week. Close up
from different parts of their gardens or other outdoor places are also
The family members and friends, their shoes or other specific things.
the young ones their favorite toys or stuffed animals.
from Rosa Juliusdottir
Grades 1 to 8
1. An alien spaceship has landed in the schoolyard. Draw a picture of
2. High in the Himalayan Mountains lives an abominable snowperson. Draw
what the snowperson look like.
3. You have made a startling discovery while skin diving! Draw what it
4. Have you ever been to the circus? Draw a picture of your favorite
with yourself as the ringmaster!
5. Draw a picture of your Mother or Father at work.
6. Draw a picture of your shoe, overlapping three different views on the
7. Draw a picture of your pet.
8. Fill a page with drawings of bugs, sea shells, or something you
9. Draw a family member or a friend from memory.
10. Draw a picture of yourself as you think you might look in ten years.
11. Have you ever had a daydream instead of doing your work? Draw a
of a daydream.
12. Draw a picture of your house and yard, then draw a big dinosaur in
13. What is the best story your grandparents tell about the old days?
a picture of it.
14. Draw a picture of your favorite part about school.
15. What does your dream car look like?
16. What does the bogeyman look like?
17. If you could cast a magic spell, what would it be? Draw a picture of
18. The famous American Pop artist Andy Warhol said, "Everyone will have
least fifteen minutes of fame in their lifetime." Illustrate your
minutes of fame.
19. A new musical group has asked you to design a CD cover for them that
illustrates their music. Be sure that your design is original and does
use any other group's images!
20. Draw a picture of your dream house. You are rich, so include
you want in this house.
from Mark Alexander (archives 9/1/97)
Grades 3 to 5
I teach K-5. My 3,4,and 5th graders have sketchbooks. I love them and
kids love them. I am constantly showing them my sketchbooks and drawings
and they show me theirs. I give homework to my students for them to do
their skeetchbooks. Here are some ideas I have used in the past.=20
!. What is art?
3. Draw your window.
4. A Value scale. Still life useing as many of the greys as you can.
5. Design your own bedroom ( a floor plan)=20
6. What would you put in that room, where would you put it, how would
7. Think of three different animals. Draw the head of one, the body of
the second one, and the legs of the third one. Name it.
8. Camoflauge something (a bug on a leaf, you in your room, a lizard on
by texture or color.
9. Draw yourself screaming.
10. Sequence drawings. A vampire turning into a bat and flying away,
three frogs playing leap frog and the last one falls into a hole, flower
growing. These are great later in a zoetrope or a flip book format,
animation on a computer.
11. Draw yourself at 16 years old, 30 and 80 years old. Tryptich (sp?)
12. Draw the silliest thing you ever saw.
13. Draw someone picking something up.
14. Draw the Thinker as an animal.
15. Distort something. A short fat pencil. A glue bottle the thickness
and lenght of a pencil. A ruler made with curved lines ( not a bad
Great for adjectives. You could start by students listing adjectives adn
then pick two + and object and draw what it might look like. Kind of
from Nancy Knutsen (archives 9/12/96)
Grades 4 and 5
* book: Sketch-books: Explore and Store, by Gillian Robinson
ISBN: 0-435-07018-5. excellent information affirming the use of
sketchbooks. The implementation of sketchbooks is difficult work if
done consistently. Supplies to assemble: about $1300 for 500 students.=20
My 4th and 5th grade students use the journal for
* notes on project procedure, including the nifty handouts from
Arts if applicable
* wordsearches which include the vocabulary of the unit being taught
* ongoing sketching using still life set ups in the room
* self evaluation and critiques
* When we do color mixing and exploration, students cut and paste
samples in the sketchbook
* also samples of tie dye, batik, printmaking etc.
We really put a lot of good "stuff" in the sketch-book. It is such a
good hands-on documentation for them to refer to and a great resource to
share with the parents.
from Barbara (rboville)
Grades 4 and 5
1. Making it. We begin by folding a 12 x 18 sheet of paper in half,
gluing subsequent pages inside with a thin line of glue to the front
or most recent page. I order and use 8 1/2 x 11 copy paper for this
purpose. We can always add pages, as needed, to the sketchbook in this
2. Cover designs. Examples: Who Am I? pictorial statements about the
student, i.e., sports, hobbies/leisure activities, accomplishments, food
preferences, pets, 6th grade. Name Design (typography) 5th grade.
Portrait, Landscape, or Still Life, 4th grade.
3. Transition (from playground/classroom). Class begins with 6 minutes
"Silent Draw" time. At the beginning of the year, I introduce this time
mental exercise for the right side of the brain, and as a visual diary.
4. More Art Starters. Reproducible pages from "School Arts," or idea
stretchers such as: imagine yourself/your world as a bug, a bird, an
5. Art History/Study Guides. I compile information about an artist, or
period, or style of art (that we may be studying), and type this up.
Sometimes, I'll photocopy a picture of the artist, or artwork, and
it as a small thumbnail print with the text. Students take turns
aloud in class, and every student then has his/her own copy for future
6. Demonstrations. Feature placement, shading, 3D drawing, perspective;
these are just some of the topics that, as I demonstrate, the students
practice in their sketchbooks.
7. Idea Refinement. Thumbnail sketches for assigned projects.
8. Review. Pop quiz, critiques, or self assessments are written on
sheets in sketchbooks.
from Cheryl (Ckart)
Grades 5 and 6
Three things the children particularly enjoyed and took very seriously!=20
1. We had our principal come in and model for us. (The AP came in one
and the librarian too.) We split it up but all were honored to model
2. Outdoor -around the school mini draw time....just don't sit in a fire
3. It just so happens that our maintenance man dresses like the holiday
certain times of the year....The day he came in like a scarecrow...I
him. Not all classes had him...but it was just one of those things you
couldn't pass up.
Have a mini still life set up so that kids who are finished early can
work on the still life in their sketchbooks.
Also I did not make weekly assignments in the sketchbook. I wanted the
sketchbook to be fun, not a burden to them. I also let the class
decided on what they wanted to do for an assignment....They would vote:=20
Something out of a window....or on a playground,.....or in their
bedroom..... They were proud to carry them around and were selective
with what they put in it. Several really got the hang of putting ideas
for future work.
A single focus sketchbook called "The/My Special Interest Book" that=20
students were responible for maintaining throughout the
year/semester/quarter. I have assigned such a book for my 6th graders
to work on when they are all "done!" We have been in school for three
weeks, but already they are showing me their "books" that they will work
on as the year goes by. The topics range from horses to Monster trucks,
and they can write, draw, add clippings, photos, whatever they want.
Charlotte Griswold (archives 9/1/97)
Middle and High School
I used the single idea book (see above from Charlotte) with my 8th grade
students as well last spring.
We called ours a theme book. My students made their own hard bound
chose a theme and made each page a beautiful work of art based on the
They were beautiful! I plan to use the same idea in place of a
second semester. By the way, one girl made 4 theme books during the
and another one made a book about movie stars with fold outs and pop
a hand made box to fit the whole thing in that was about 14X18".=20
Whoever donated this idea originally -- thanks!
from Marcia Thompson (archives 9/2/97)
* rough out project ideas
* versatile list of topics from: Art Journal Topics, by Terri
Tarr-Schweitzer. Published by McDonald Publishing Co. , 1997. Found in
the art resources section of an art supply catalog.
from Barbara (Artgotch)
the wind, sadness, happiness (other emotions represented with symbols,
Collections of objects:
toys, books (opened, closed, stacked), kitchen utensils, art materials,
contrasting texture items, knick-knack collections, crumpled paper bags,
still lifes of fruit or vegetables, clothing hung from hooks or chair
backs, assorted balls, a collection of cans from the pantry or shampoo
bottles from the shower. Stacks of shoes. Old hats. Spools of thread.
mythological interpretations, invented creatures from actual live
creatures, fables and fairy tales.
for stories they've read or written. to redo those they don't like, or
emulate or reinterpret those they do like.
Portraiture. Figures. Animals. Transportation forms. Functional
design, such as the bookbag or windsuit they'd like to have. Lautrec of
90's poster designs for an event they are involved in. Formulate an
and work it out on paper for a new...
from Linda Kelty
Use them for notes, journaling and sketching; also for a short test at
the end of our 6 week ( 27day) period; honors art class has weekly
I have gotten ideas for sketches from the archives. I refine my sketch
list each year to keep it interesting. Some ideas:
- bookmarks for the school library
- junk food with wrapper
- part of a vehicle
- instead of a hand... your foot ( no socks or shoe)
- something not pretty (one of the 8th grades favs)
- an interior of something (once a student did the inside of a jar
- inside of closet
- 3 unlikely objects together
- your Mother's or Father's choice
- part of any object ( mystery draw)
- a scene that depicts peace
from Mary B
I have used sketchbooks for many years, usually with grades 7-12.
Here are a few of my favorites:
* Illustrate your favorite poem
* Draw the contents of a trash can
* Drawing of a house plant (real or artificial)
* Draw an object with a surface texture.
* Draw tools used in certain professions
* Draw a tennis shoe
* draw a grouping of leaves
* Draw something you might find in a department store display
* Draw a large jar and fill it up with something (candy, toys,
* Design a school desk
* Draw your favorite snack food
* Draw an object melting
* Draw a bowl=A0 of fruit, shade it.
* Draw hands holding something
* Draw a mechanical object
* word picture: select a word that bring to mind a mental=A0 picture,
the word as the shape of the object. such as the word apple in the
shape of an apple, or apples spelling out the word.
* Draw popcorn
* Keyhole: what would you see through a key hole
from Sharon Hodges
In my school, every student in an art class has a sketchbook. In
classes the assignments echo the concepts the students are
learning...practicing contour, using different types of line, etc. They
have a weekly assignment, as well as keeping track of some in class
technical stuff and the writes we do....the studio or advanced kids keep
sketchbooks as process journals...all their class notes, thumbnails, pre
assignment work, personal sketching etc goes in them. The sketchbooks
from art class to art class...they purchase them. Once in awhile I will
find a big sale and resell my incredible bargains to them. There is
and tagboard or old recyled folders for kids who do not want to pop for
sketchbooks. The end product is 25% of their grade. We expect a couple
hours of work a week in them.
At the end of the semester there are never leftovers in class the kids
a lot of pride in the visible progress they have made.
from R.E. William Loring
[A way to avoid students getting behind in sketchbook assignments] 7th
grade was to issue sketchbook packets. These were
four to eight pages, photocopied, folded and stapled into a
mini-sketch book. Each page had a theme or 'mini-drawing lesson.'=20
There was also an area to score each page and a cover page that listed
the title of the sketchbook (perspective, cartooning, portraits, etc.)
the student's name, total grade, etc.The advantage of these was that
the assignment length was short (two weeks) and because we moved on
into new themes, the interest level was high. If a kid blew off an
entire sketchbook packet, his grade didn't sink him in the class.
from Alix Peshette (archives 2/19/98)