The Sketchbook Project is a record of how my sixth grade students used sketchbooks during their art class to record art information and create projects. Learn how I used sketchbooks instead of individual sheets of paper to teach art & creativity.
Week One: The Beginning
Week Two: Creating Value
Week Three: Atmospheric Perspective
Week Four: Tree Line Drawings
Week Five: Sonia Delaunay Abstract Art
Week Six: Portrait Journalling
Week Seven: Line drawings
WHAT WE DID:
Drawing animals is a favorite art subject for pretty much every child. Children love to draw their pet and can often do so with ease, but drawing an unfamiliar animal takes some practice.
For this project, I wanted to offer my 6th graders the opportunity to explore farm animals. I gathered some books, of which Farm Anatomy by Julia Rothman remains my favorite.
The strategy for this project was to encourage the kids to use their sketchbook to practice drawing a few animals. I photocopied animal pictures from books and placed some photographs on the white board. I asked the kids to draw at least 3 different animals, or one animal 3 different ways. The intention was to push them out of any comfort zones they may have.
After they sketched a few animals, they selected which animals they wanted to develop further. Using pencils, the kids drew their animal(s) in an art-style of their choice. This was the fun part. Some kids created farm scenes, others created pop art animals, others went 3-D…so many options!
And with many of the Sketchbook projects in this series, I allowed the kids to use whatever coloring medium they wanted. Some used markers, pencil crayons, watercolor paints and others went the collage route.
I have to admit, that this project produced the most varied results. The kids LOVED choosing their own medium. At first I worried that allowing the children to move around the art room to gather supplies from the art cupboards would result in chaos, but the opposite happened. They were quick and deliberate. They put their own supplies back when class was over. They were empowered with their freedom (as most 6th graders are) and for me it resulted in a lively art-making session.
I don’t know if this fits in with the choice-based classroom model, but if it does, I’m happy to say that it was really successful!
You may be wondering about drawing guides and instructions. For this project, I didn’t offer any. The pictures of the animals were enough for 85% of the kids to get started with their ideas. For those who felt stuck or were on the verge of quitting because they couldn’t quite figure out how to draw a horse or a pig or a chicken, I sat with them.
I love doing this. When most of the class is working on their art, I love to go around to the struggling students and offer some private lessons. I show them on the photocopy image that animals are made up of shapes. I draw the shapes over the photocopy and then show the kids how to use their finger or their pencil to gauge how long a leg is compared to the size of the body. By breaking down the shapes and giving a few tips, children have enough information to proceed.
Here’s a sampling of the wonderful variety of art created by the 6th graders. Aren’t they fun?
Here is my collection of art projects based on animals.
Missed the last installments of the Sketchbook project?
Week #5 Expressive Self-Portraits
WEEK #6 Line Drawings
Download this free lesson guide on our Chicken Little template for more art lesson inspiration!