Over the years I have made sketchbooks with my students. That said, I taught high school, and the sewing books, with many signatures, then sewn together was hard for them, so I can't imagine doing that with your grade level. I would suggest an easier type of sketchbook. Here is an easier one we also did.
You "tear" (looks like a deckle edge when you are finished) sheets of paper (but you can also stack precut paper) into a pile of 25 pieces. We used 25 because a) I didn't expect to get any more than that in terms of sketches and b) binding technique, while very easy doesn't accomodate more than that. You then have chipboard covers the same size (one for top, and one for bottom). So you now have a stack of chipboard, pages, chipboard. Remove the chipboard from the stack temporarily, and score the side that you plan to bind, 1.5 inches away, from top to bottom, using a pair of scissors opened up as your scoring tool, and a ruler. So you now have a line, from top to bottom, that is cut partially through the chipboard. Bend the chipboard on the line (opposite of the cut), so that it looks like a door, same for the back piece but bend it the "other way". Now take a hole puncher and punch all the sheets of paper, AND the chip board covers in the same place, so that you only have two holes along the side. We, then took duck tape in different colors and overlapping the tape slightly "covered" the chipboard edge with the holes, 2" wide, thus reinforcing the bend in the cardboard. You have to then poke the holes back out with the point of a compass. You then restack everything, and get those brass fasteners at staples with the large "tails" and put it through the holes. To decorate the covers, we used this as an opportunity to teach about positive and negative space, and had our students design foam rubber stamps (2- one positive, one negative), using the thin sheets of foam that they cut with scissors and glued down onto cardboard, and they stamped their repetitive design in a checkerboard fashion on a piece of paper, and glued that one top of their sketchbook covers.
> Subject: [teacherartexchange] sketchbooks
> From: email@example.com
> Date: Tue, 31 Aug 2010 21:59:59 -0400
> To: firstname.lastname@example.org
> I would like my third through fifth grade classes this year to make their own sketchbooks. Does anyone have a suggestion for a good way to make them?
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