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Turn Your Sketchbooks into Multipurpose Learning Tools

Within my district, the elementary level art students are each provided a printed and bound sketchbook. Teachers get to choose how they wish to use sketchbooks in their own art rooms. Some teachers require sketchbook assignments, but more frequently, teachers use them for project preparation, sketches and free draw.  Last year, because it was my first year, I had no say in the design or content of the sketchbooks for my specific school. This year, however, my goal was to have students use them in many different ways, both for educational and expressive purposes.

Therefore, in addition to using the sketchbooks for sketching and free draw, I also reference them during instruction. We use them to explore the elements and principals of design as well as other topics like color theory. I make this possible by utilizing handouts that students insert into their sketchbooks. I also include inspirational handouts, like a list of drawing ideas, and a list of the art room rules.

inserts for sketchbooks

A couple of the other elementary art teachers and I compiled the handouts, informative inserts, and activities that spanned the scope and sequence of all our grade levels to transform our sketchbooks.  Here is a link to a Pinterest board that includes some of the inserts we used and many more!


Using handouts like these has made our sketchbooks into invaluable resources for our students. Not only do they get to use the sketchbooks for the traditional purpose of sketching and planning, but they also get to create a fun place to store all of their new knowledge and express themselves creatively!

Do you take on the task of designing your students’ sketchbooks or are they in charge of how they use them?

Would you include inserts like these in your sketchbooks? Which do you think would be the most helpful?  

Alecia Eggers Kaczmarek


Alecia is an elementary art teacher in central Iowa who is passionate about teaching and reaching her students with an innovative and meaningful arts education.