Sketchbooks in schools

Published by Lori Pickert on April 21, 2009 at 05:31 PM

Sketchbooks/journals are a big part of project work — it’s important to keep your ideas, thoughts, plans, and questions together (you and your child!) and keep track of your ideas and all the iterations of your representations from the initial idea of a sketch to the list of materials you need to pasting in photographs, items torn out of magazines and newspapers, etc. etc. etc.

Sketchbooks are a fantatsic learning tool!

Check out Sketchbooks in Schools — lots of great stuff!

Hat tip: Thriving Too.


Comment by Mon on April 21, 2009 at 06:55 PM

I used to be really ood at keeping a sketchbook/journal. Lots of bits and pieces. i haven't done it in years, and I'm not even sure why.

Comment by Margaret Everton on April 21, 2009 at 08:49 PM

LOVE love this post. I couldn't agree more about the importance and fun of sketchbooks. In this culture of standardization and too-quick growing, sketching seems a great way to slow down and encourage children to think creatively on their own. Nice blog.

Comment by amy chionis on April 21, 2009 at 10:04 PM

neat site - we'll have a lot to gander at over the next few months. i am thinking this might be a nice shared project for me and benen to decompress after a morning of preschool...

Comment by Lori Pickert on April 21, 2009 at 11:37 PM

we always used sketchbooks/journals at my school to start the day .. for preK right up through the elem. grades. free writing, free drawing .. such a mellow way to get into a learning mode!

we encouraged kids to use their books to keep track of project details .. it’s definitely a learned skill. kids think they can remember everything and they don’t need to take notes! ;^)

i like the idea of sketchbooking together as a decompression technique, amy. :^)

Comment by Cordelia on April 22, 2009 at 01:14 AM

kids think they can remember everything and they don’t need to take notes! ;^)

This is such an issue around here. I'll remmember-is the most common response to any suggestion that thngs be recorded. I don't want to require it in project work, and I do some recording his work as part of my recordkeeping. Thoughts on ways to encourage (his) recording thngs ?

Comment by Lori Pickert on April 22, 2009 at 01:31 AM

re: thinking you can remember everything & therefore don’t need to take notes…

the other day i ordered at a restaurant and it went like this:

me: i'll have a coke...

server: diet?

me: uhh, no .. regular. and i'll have a baked potato...

server: mashed?

me: uhhh .. BAKED potato...

server: with sour cream?

me: no, just butter .. and i'll have a salad wit-

server: FRENCH?

me: .. .. .. blue. cheese. dressing.

he cut me off and incorrectly predicted everything i was going to order! and *didn’t write anything down*!!! i thought i was being punk’d!

my best technique is encouraging use of the journal/sketchbook is using it myself. the boys love to flip back in it and see what i’ve recorded. they want to copy my xerox-and-paste-up technique — and they really do get the fact that it helps us remember ideas we would have otherwise forgotten!

in school we would require a plan before we would requisition new materials … i may have done that at home as well. (i can’t remember!) i do ask them to write down a list of materials they need when they get ready to build/model something complex. i have asked them to write down what they want to look for at the library so we won’t waste time or forget. (and since we’ve forgotten so *often*, they do it. ;^)

one thing i have to keep reminding them is to *put it in your journal!* even when they do scrawl notes, they often forget it should be in the book. so we glue it in!

Comment by Dawn on April 22, 2009 at 03:19 AM

Glue it in... We have these little scraps all over the house! Ah, Glue! Amazing thought!
Question: I have given Fionna sketch books/journals and she fills them up with "drawings" super fast... sometimes it seems like she is just marking something on each page so she can "finish" it! We are not real big into workbooks and "finishing" something like that so I don't know where she gets it. Any ideas on getting her to see it as a work in progress?
She does have her bird journal but since that is so specific she only adds something to it when we see a new bird...
Thanks for another great post Lori!

Comment by Dawn on April 22, 2009 at 03:23 AM

okay. I just had the chance to read some more at the link you gave and they have some good ideas for my issue with Fionna... need to do more reading! :)

Comment by Jill on April 22, 2009 at 12:50 PM

Lori, I don't know if this comment fits here, but it has to do with, here it is!

A couple weeks ago I asked about how to get us all drawing despite our tendancies of perfectionism. You said that you guys used to draw together before nighttime reading. I loved this idea. So for Easter, I bought everyone a little sketchbook and two beautiful erasers to share between the four of us. And we've been spending time together (the goal is 15 min., but it goes longer sometimes) drawing. I haven't seen my kids drawing like this in forever. They look forward to it and seem truely bummed if we can't squeeze it in. Even my four-year old who is never interested in sitting down to create, thinks that his sketchbook is the best thing since sliced bread.

And I added a little element to help us all be less self-critical. Each person who makes it the whole time without fussing about his own drawing gets a sticker on the inside cover of his book. I haven't decided on the amount, but after a certain number of stickers (I'm thinking 25) a new art supply will make it's way into our home. This has helped me MORE than I can tell you! I'm actually trying and retrying, analyzing, and correcting without giving up at "my stupid artwork!"

Our reading times together at night have always been special and memorable--I think that this idea is making them even better (if that's possible)! So thank you, Lori!! I already told you what a genius you are!! I wouldn't want you to get a big head or anything by telling you again!!


Comment by Lori Pickert on April 22, 2009 at 01:24 PM

dawn, what were their suggestions??

i am still poking around that site — it isn’t easy to find things! :^)

*i* would say … glue in paper envelopes (preferably heavy yellow ones) to use to collect loose papers .. we put them inside both the front and back cover and sometimes another one in the middle! have loose paper available for doodling and talk about what is “sketchbook worthy”. ;^) my older son fills sketchbooks with pages that only have one mark — SIGH — so i am familiar with this phenomenon.

we have one sketchbook for project work, one nature journal, and at least one general for-anything-you-want sketchbook … plus more that have different contents (like jack’s sketchbook of new comic book characters). the boys often forget which book they are working in — or forget to use a book and work on loose paper. so we just rip it out and glue it in the other book. we’re more focused on the practicality of grouping ideas together and much less on the aesthetics of a pretty book. :^)

jill, you can feel free to bring anything up anywhere you want!

that is *fantastic* about your sketch time!!! :^D)

and fantastic that you worked out a way to encourage everyone to just draw and not kvetch. :^)

thank you *so* much for telling me. and don’t worry about me getting a big head — trust me, while you are swelling it up, plenty of others are trying to whittle it down! ;^)

our sketch time together was exactly the same — it made reading time even better, and just like you, i would have thought that was impossible!

Comment by julia on April 22, 2009 at 05:44 PM

How absolutely inspringly wonderful. I read some of the articles on the sketchbook site and am inspired to start a new book right now. Of course I'm already using at least three: One for illustrations, one for the thoughts that lead to illustrations and one for the continual and neverending lists of things to do.
But this kind of sketchbook would be so much more. And so very much more interesting. Thanks for inspiring, Lori.

Comment by Wendy on April 22, 2009 at 07:27 PM

We've just recently started using sketch books. But I've encountered one problem. My daughter is such a perfectionist that she rarely will commit to actually drawing anything. No random ideas and certainly no simple sketches or doodles. Only art goes in there. I've bought several, one for doodling and just for play, but still she hesitates.

Comment by Lori Pickert on April 22, 2009 at 08:09 PM

julia, ha, me too with the zillions of books. i have one for each project i am working on, one for just ideas, one for our local sketching project, my nature journal, etc. etc.

plus i keep a regular journal! :^P

i’m glad you were inspired — i am, too!

wendy, maybe you should make up a bunch of sketchbook prompts for her — paste a collage on one page, draw something in your bedroom using only an orange crayon, make a list of your favorite foods, etc. etc. it’s a whole lot easier to enjoy a sketchbook when you are relaxed about it — after you’ve broken it in!

have you seen keri smith’s “wreck this journal”?

Comment by Dawn on April 23, 2009 at 12:39 AM

I agree that the site is not the most user friendly at this point. I think as they add more information it will become a great resource.

The first thing I saw for getting kids to "buy into" the sketchbook was to have them work with you to creat their own book. I talked to Fionna about this and she was excited to pick a picture from our photo file for her cover and make her own sketchbook. We are going to try to do it tomorrow.

They also talked about having specfic times set aside to work on the sketchbook... as you have mentioned before. And about prompts as you said above.

Any other thoughts?

Comment by Lori Pickert on April 23, 2009 at 01:00 AM

yes, i think it has great potential!

letting them create their own book is a great idea. we used to buy identical large sketchbooks for all the kids in school, and our studio teacher would have them decorate the covers first. they would really go crazy with the covers, and often they would have laminating film all over to keep the collaged items from falling off. :^) they would even hang beaded pieces from the spirals.

i think that the most important point is for them to realize the potential of using a sketchbook ... and to realize that, they have to dig in and use it. for me, it comes down to setting the stage and then doing it myself. if they have cool books, tons of art supplies (different kinds of pens, collaging stuff, etc.), and if *i* sit down to work on *my* sketchbook, then they are more likely to do it.

with a project journal, it’s really just my reminding them (trying to do it in a non-nagging way) to put things in their journal. but sometimes i just pile it up and then we have a tape/glue-in session and catch it up. when we do that, we talk about everything they are putting in, so it’s a great time to reflect — and they also tend to write notes next to the things they are pasting in. generally, any time we have this sort of session, they are reenergized about what they’ve been working on. and me too!

when the boys were younger, keeping lots of handmade blank books around did wonders — they filled every single one, usually on the same day i made them. no matter how many i made!

i also have a bound book that i made from a series of pieces my older son did during a months-long project. when it was bound together (i’d been keeping them in a wire basket), he was absolutely entranced. it gave him a million ideas, and he was very charged up about doing his next book.

i have been thinking we need a way for the camp creek kids to share some of the things they do, and i think i’ve come up with an easy way to do it — i’ll blog about it tomorrow! :^D

Comment by amyk on April 23, 2009 at 01:40 AM

I love that you just posted this, Lori, because I've actually been feeling like writing you with questions on this very thing. We've begun our project work now, but mostly with pictures on the bulletin board, some art and 3-d project work, some reading. She even put together a blank book decorated for the topic (when I laid out the materials), but as of yet, there has been no recording in the project journal. *I* have a real vision for what would go in there --questions she has, info she finds out, stories or poems about the topic if she feels like it, but it's not about me. And when I've encouraged her to write in it, she kind of hems and haws and never does (She knows I want her to write something --anything--every day, and I've said / encouraged she might want it to be project-related, but so far -- no go). I'm trying not to force the issue because as I've said before, I'm trying to be more hands-off to let her have some freedom with this. Friday's the next chance we have to really sit down and do some project work. I thought maybe we could sit down and write some questions she has together, maybe before we do an internet search. I'm trying to keep my mouth shut so I don't push too hard, but it's actually making me laugh how much I'd love to see her use her project journal in a productive way (like it's not being used to spite me or just to teach me a lesson to have patience with this whole process!!! :) ) I just can't figure out how else to encourage her to write stuff down in it without overdoing it. I have a small project I'm working on myself right now --kind of a writing project--maybe I should make sure to casually point out that I'm doing some work in my project journal.

Also I am keeping one about her work; maybe i should participate in her journal a bit too... It seems like you were kind of suggesting that. I'm not sure if that would encourage or push away at this point...

And I love the idea of some of the kids maybe showing their journal work. I was actually thinking if she could see some cool examples of other kids' project journals, it might get her inspired. I actually showed her the pictures of your project journal about your older's son's project. She was kind of interested in the pictures and the fact that he was keeping a blog on his project. So I think you're onto something about the kids sharing their work--it could serve as some neat models for some of the kids just getting into project work.

Thanks as always for the inspiration and ideas. You've definitely helped us inch closer to where we've wanted to be on our homeschooling path. Thanks!

Comment by Lori Pickert on April 23, 2009 at 02:06 AM

amy, i definitely think you should share your project journal with her — and let her see you working in it. because if you are writing down questions, writing down things you do, pasting in copies of sketches and photos, etc., that may wake up her interest. :^)

i’m readying the post about sharing work — i think it could be great! i will definitely post pictures of my sons’ project journals.

thank *you* and keep me updated!

Comment by Thimbleina on April 27, 2009 at 04:52 PM

I'm totally lacking in ideas for anything at the moment. I think I need to start a sketch book again and start those creative juices flowing again

Comment by Lori Pickert on April 27, 2009 at 05:23 PM

it works!

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