Elementary Art Sketchbook Assignments

You will be assigned certain sketchbook assignments, but you have the freedom to make the assignment more interesting to you.For example if you are assigned to focus on reflective surfaces one week, you might choose #6, #37, #64 or #88.  When drawing remember to use the entire page spread and both sides of the paper.

1.Plant Drawing:Three Drawings of a Plant


ii.Shaded rendering

iii.Magnify/enlarge a section

2.Three Hands:Blind contour (do not look at paper).Concentrate on your subject.

Make the drawings overlap each other at some points.

3.Two Feet:Modified contour (you may occasionally look at the paper).

Make the drawings overlap each other slightly.

4.Shoes:Find a very old shoe and draw it from an interesting and exaggerated angle.

5.Number:Draw your luck number and then keep drawing it over and over – Johns

6.Bunch of Keys:Group with a lot of variety and do a macro drawing of them.

Give them dimension and focus on the sharp lines of the cuts.

7.Toothbrush & Toothpaste:Show the difference in textures and the angles of the toothbrush vs.

            the bulbous shape of the tube.Best if toothpaste is almost empty.

What happens to lettering on a curved surface?

8.Inside a Drawer:Make a line drawing of the contents of a partially open drawer.

The junk drawer in a kitchen would work well. Think Composition!

9.Egg Beater:Line drawing using techniques involved in drawing negative space.

10.Knotted Fabric:Tie a knot in a sock or dishtowel, striped is best.

Focus on the variation of line and shade to give the wrinkles form.

11.Coat Hanging on the Corner of a Chair:Try to show the effects of gravity.

Think composition and exaggerate value in the folds, especially at top.

12.Clouds:Pick a day when the clouds are dramatic.Use expressive lines.

Show movement and drama without closing in any shapes.

13.Hub Caps & Tires:Draw them so that they are elliptical and show any reflection.

14.Street Signs & Lights:Draw a street sign as if it was an analytic botanical.

Write notes as to location, height and color.Think Durer.

15.Lamp Posts and Telephone Poles:Focus on negative space, then go in w/ detail.

16.Lettuce or Cabbage Leaf:Look for the growth pattern, draw at ¾ view.

17.Three packages of Food:Make them overlap, focus on texture and text.

Can you see the form of the food, is it pictured or named?Include shadows.

18.Corner of a Room:Include a partial piece of furniture and use variation of line.

Lay on the floor so that a piece of furniture is highly foreshortened.

19.Front of Your House:¾ view

20.Glass of water with a spoon in it:Focus on distortion caused by the water on the spoon.

Don’t forget that the glass has dimension and distortion occurs on all edges.

21.View of a Room from a Mirror:Show something as you do not usually see it.

22.Machinery:Magnify a part that moves, try to show how it moves.

23.Eyes:Draw 6 while either looking in a mirror or at someone’s eye.Different angles.

24.Noses;Draw 6 while either looking at your own or someone else.Different angles.

25.Mouths:Draw 6 from observation, 4 of them open and showing teeth.Different angles.

26.Animal:Draw from observation using gestural, simple and expressive lines.

27.TV Shows:Draw gestures for 5 minutes of the show or 3 commercials.

Go in and add detail from memory after the show has ended.

28.Movie:From memory draw your favorite scene.

29.Logos:Glue or draw 10 logos that you think are exceptional in your sketchbook.

Write down your analysis of why they are successful and why they appeal to you.

30.Illustration:Take a few lines from a poem or song and illustrate it.

Include only 1-3 words of the text.

31.Balance:Cut out 12 or more words from the newspaper or magazine.

Arrange ½ into an Asymmetrical composition and ½ into a Symmetrical one.

32.Overlapping Forms:Draw 5 overlapping forms from an extreme view.

Shade them in an exaggerated fashion so that the furthest is in sfumato.

33.Repeated Motif:Use a shape and repeat it so that it could be used for textile design.

34.Fast Food/ Take Out:Choose your favorite and draw it so the viewer understands

just how tasty it is.Include text and packaging – think composition.

35.Ants-Eye View:Draw something as if you were the ant.Extremely exaggerated.

36.Birds-Eye View:Draw something from an aerial perspective.Think fisheye lense.

Your drawing must be imagined from at least roof height.Don’t get on the roof.

37.Reflections:Draw the images that you see reflected in a chrome appliance.

38.Fantasy:Draw a dream or “somewhere over the rainbow” scene with you in it.

39.Old Masters:Choose an artist from the Renaissance and draw a study in their manner.

40.Composition:Choose an image and crop it close.Draw it using only stippling.

Draw it using cross-hatching.Do not outline the forms in any way.

41.Photo:Recreate a photograph using only + marks or a continuous line to render.

42.Plumbing:Draw the underneath of a sink, a showerhead or an outside spigot.

Draw using crisp lines and then draw no more than ¼ of it in extreme detail.

43.Egg in Carton:Use value to show the smooth texture of the egg and rough cardboard.

44.Milk Carton or Condiment Container:Show the form and show texture.

45.What I did today:Make a diagram or floorplan to show how your day was divided.

         Fill the rooms with representative objects

46.Old Hat:Use varying thickness of line and implied line to give it character.

47.Garbage:Draw an open garbage or recycling receptacle.Show that it is holding things.

48.Paper Towel or Napkin:Crumple it up and use value to show creases & shadows.

49.Hand Holding Something:Use contour lines to show that the hand is holding an object.

50.Person in a Chair:Use negative space to render someone sitting in chair.

51.Close up image of Popcorn:Make it look larger than life

52.Draw with an eraser:Cover the page with graphite or charcoal and erase light areas

53.Warped:This one is up to you to interpret.

54.Light & Object:A single object from different views with strong light source

55.Homework:Your school books stacked up on your desk or in your locker

56.Collection:What do you collect?Do a drawing collage of whatever they are.

57.Chess:Draw a chess set as though you were looking through the eyes of a pawn

58.Notes:Take an exam or notes you no longer need.Glue a page in and draw over it

59.Familiar Object:Draw 4 close-up views of a familiar object.

Zoom in so far that you wouldn’t recognize it if you didn’t know what it was.

60.Person talking on a Phone:Are they involved in the conversation?

61.Closet:Lots of lines and overlapping forms in a closet.Is it cluttered or neat?

Zoom in and make sure that you are drawing from an interesting point of view.

62.Looking Out:Look out a window and draw the scene, including the window.

63.Tree:Focus on its structure as an object.

64.Kitchen Stove:Draw from an extreme angle.Set up a still life with pots.

Focus on forms and make sure to get the burner covers and knobs in.

65.Pile of Shoes:There will be a lot of overlap, show the different lines and shoe laces.

66.Draw a Blind Contour Portrait of a Family Member:While drawing ask them to tell

you a story.Write the story behind the drawing and go back into the drawing.

67.2 Details & 1 Contour:Set up a 3 piece still life.Do a contour drawing using value

on only two object and the background.Leave one object contour only – focal point.

68.Bag of Chips:Show the dimension and texture of the chips.Show overlap and depth.

69.2 Versions:Draw a copy of an artwork that you admire.Then do a second version of the

same work of art, but make it your own.

70.Favorite Photo:Draw 2 versions of your favorite photograph.One realistic, one abstract.

71.Birds:Draw a real bird – as much texture as you can.Then draw an abstract version.

72.Make sure that the abstract is recognizable as a bird.

73.Newspaper:Cut out a newspaper article with an image.Glue it in your sketchbook.

Draw and write your reaction to the article over it.Rauschenberg & Saunders

74.Remembering a Landscape:Draw a landscape from memory.

75.Alive:Draw something that is alive and then paint the same subject.

76.Your Room:Draw a scene in your room with dramatic lighting – chiaroscuro

77.Intersections & Overlap:Draw a colorful design with intersections of lines and

overlapping shapes

78.Unguarded:Draw someone in an unguarded moment from observation.Make sure to use a sense 

         of  mood.Use pencil and color pencil.Hans Holbein, daVinci

79.Illuminated Manuscript:Create a page that mimics an illuminated manuscript, but the text is your    

         favorite song or a letter that someone wrote to you.

80.Non-Objective: 1 non-objective and 1 asymmetrical composition using points of concentration

         (areas where there are objects grouped more tightly) for focal point.

81.Non-Drawing Tool:Drawing or painting using only non-art materials and non-art

82.mark-making instruments.Example:“Draw” with coffee using a stick.

83.Ball-Point Pen:Create a drawing using two different colors of ball-point pens.

84.Art Nouveau:Create a page based on art nouveau techniques of line.

85.Off Hand:Draw objects of choice using the hand you don’t usually use or foot.

86.Collared Shirt on a Hanger:Get all of the details, overlapping lines and stitching in.

87.Solid turning into Liquid:Get creative and don’t draw ice melting.

88.Man & Machine Combined:Not Iron Man or a Transformer – Get creative!

89.Still Life composition that reflects you as an individual.

90.A realistic self-portrait

91.An abstract self-portrait

92.Hide an image within an image

93.Landscape from direct observation

94.Texture out of realistic context

95.Water bottles with colored water still life – white paper behind if too difficult

96.Metamorphosis from Natural to Synthetic

97.Objects floating on Water

98.Human & insect combined

99.Architecture from direct observation

100.Multiple frame sequential drawing

101.Object being sucked into or through something

102.Composition in which Movement is the primary focus

103.Human Figure from direct observation

104.Solid turning into a liquid

105.Zoom, zoom, zoom:Divide the space into 3 areas.Draw the same object, person or scene in each, 

         but zoom in exponentially in each of the separate spaces.

106.Cubist Trace:Trace an object over and over until it covers the pages.

Go in and add depth and rhythm by shading in some areas.

107.Spools of Thread:Draw a grouping with overlap or repetition

108.Dishes:Draw dishes in the sink after a meal, include portions of the sink

109.Dishwasher:Draw the dishes or utensils in the dishwasher.Clean or dirty, your choice.

You can view many artist sketchbooks on-line through museum or personal websites.When you visit a museum, they will often be on display.There are even Smart Phone apps that will show you sketchbook pages.I recommend looking at Leonardo daVinci’s as an exemplar.

Posted in Sketchbook Page Ideas | Comments Off

Sketchbook Ideas

Sketchbook Ideas for Elementary
Compiled from ArtsEdNet Talk mailing list
Grades: 1 to 6


Input from Art Teachers

I have found that my students work more in the Sketchbooks they make themselves. So therefore I always begin the year by having them make their 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 pens out 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 drawings from different parts of their gardens or other outdoor places are also fun. The family members and friends, their shoes or other specific things. For the young ones, their favorite toys or stuffed animals.

From Rosa Juliusdottir


Sketchbook ideas one art teacher has 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 this painting do you get the impression that the artist was a happy person with many friends? Why? What kind of mood has he created?
3. Draw your greatest fear.
4. When do you get angry and why? Draw a picture of yourself with an angry expression.
5. Draw things that float.
6. Draw things with wheels.
7. Draw things that roll.
8. Draw things that close.
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 yourself 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 primary colors.


From Sandy Poos (archives 9/13/96)

Grades 1 to 8

1. An alien spaceship has landed in the schoolyard. Draw a picture of it.
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 is!
4. Have you ever been to the circus? Draw a picture of your favorite act, 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 same page.
7. Draw a picture of your pet.
8. Fill a page with drawings of bugs, sea shells, or something you collect.
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 picture of a daydream.
12. Draw a picture of your house and yard, then draw a big dinosaur in the yard!
13. What is the best story your grandparents tell about the old days? Draw 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 it.
18. The famous American Pop artist Andy Warhol said, "Everyone will have at least fifteen minutes of fame in their lifetime." Illustrate your fifteen 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 not use any other group's images!
20. Draw a picture of your dream house. You are rich, so include anything 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 the 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 in their sketchbooks. Here are some ideas I have used in the past.


1. What is art?
2. Self-portrait?
3. Draw your window.
4. A Value scale. Still life using as many of the grays as you can.
5. Design your own bedroom ( a floor plan)
6. What would you put in that room, where would you put it, how would you put it.
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. Camouflage something (a bug on a leaf, you in your room, a lizard on a rock) 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. Triptych
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 length of a pencil. A ruler made with curved lines ( not a bad idea). Great for adjectives. You could start by students listing adjectives and then pick two + an object and draw what it might look like. Kind of like visual "MadLib".


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.

My 4th and 5th grade students use the journal for
• notes on project procedure, including the nifty handouts from School Arts if applicable
• word searches which include the vocabulary of the unit being taught for reinforcement
• 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)

1. Making it. We begin by folding a 12 x 18 sheet of paper in half, then gluing subsequent pages inside with a thin line of glue to the front cover, or most recent page. I order and use 8 ½ x 11 copy paper for this purpose. We can always add pages, as needed, to the sketchbook in this manner.

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 of "Silent Draw" time. At the beginning of the year, I introduce this time as 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 alien, etc.

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 include it as a small thumbnail print with the text. Students take turns reading aloud in class, and every student then has his/her own copy for future reference.

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 blank sheets in sketchbooks.


From Cheryl (Ckart)


Grades 5 and 6

Three things the children particularly enjoyed and took very seriously!


1. We had our principal come in and model for us. (The AP came in one time and the librarian too.) We split it up but all were honored to model for us.
2. Outdoor -around the school mini draw time... just don't sit in a fire ant hill!
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 nabbed him. Not all classes had him... but it was just one of those things you couldn't pass up.
4. Have a mini still life set up so that kids who are finished early can go 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: 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 in it for future work.


From Laurie



0 thoughts on “Elementary Art Sketchbook Assignments

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *