3 Inexpensive Ways to Make Your Own Sketchbooks


Sketchbooks are a must-have in the art room. Even though it might be challenging to get your students to enjoy or work in their sketchbooks on their own time, most of them will use them to plan and brainstorm while in the classroom.

That said, sketchbooks can eat up a large part of an already meager budget, and many of our students can’t purchase their own. What’s an art teacher to do? Get resourceful, of course!

Here are 3 inexpensive ways to make your own sketchbooks.

1. Cardboard and Binder Rings


Excess cardboard, matboard, or chipboard all make great sketchbook covers. To start, simply cut the materials to your desired size. I’ve found 6″ x 9″ sketchbooks work well for my middle school students.

To increase durability and add personal flair, you can have students glue and attach kraft paper to their covers as if they were wrapping a gift. Then students can design the covers as they like.

After the covers are finished, simply use a heavy-duty hole puncher to punch a few matching holes in the cover pieces and copy paper. Then, use binder rings to put the book together. One of the best things about creating a sketchbook like this is the ability to add a variety of papers. Higher quality drawing paper, as well as wet media paper, can be added in at a later time. Any handouts or resources printed out for students can be sized to fit in the sketchbook as well. Using this method will prevent loose papers everywhere and will serve as an excellent resource for your students!

If you’re looking for more information about creating a thriving sketchbook system in your art room, be sure to check out the Sketchbook Ideas that Really Work Learning Pack. You’ll explore a variety of drawing exercises, note-taking methods, and innovative ideas to help your students develop their creativity and drawing skills!

2. Construction Paper and Newsprint


Another simple way to make student sketchbooks is by using construction paper and newsprint. Begin by folding a piece of 12” by 18” construction paper in half and then fill it with 9” by 12” newsprint paper. The paper can be secured in place by stapling along the fold. This is an optimal solution if you have hundreds of students and are looking to really stretch your budget.

If your students are using this type of sketchbook all year long, it will start to wear. To ensure durability, you can run the construction paper covers through the laminator. You might consider starting the school year by having students design their cover to turn their sketchbook into a piece of art!

3. Folders with Metal Prongs


One more solution is to use folders with metal prongs inside. This type of sketchbook will also allow students to add different kinds of paper over time. The pockets inside the folder also serve as a great place to store handouts or other difficult to punch resources.

Sketchbooks don’t need to break the bank. If you’re looking for a way to ensure all of your students have a sketchbook, try out one of these three ideas. No matter what type you choose to create, you’ll find your students eager to fill the pages!

What other ways do you make sketchbooks for your students?

Do you use sketchbooks in your classroom?

Magazine articles and podcasts are opinions of professional education contributors and do not necessarily represent the position of the Art of Education University (AOEU) or its academic offerings. Contributors use terms in the way they are most often talked about in the scope of their educational experiences.


Abby Schukei

Abby Schukei, a middle school art educator and AOEU’s Social Media Manager, is a former AOEU Writer. She focuses on creating meaningful experiences for her students through technology integration, innovation, and creativity.

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