We started using our sketchbooks on Monday. The process of introducing them is something I always forget about - it takes scaffolding, explanations, answering questions, reminding children that they don't go home until they are full...
Although the children have been engaging with drawing and writing, it is not widespread. The writing and drawing table is small and I don't think that the materials are presented in as engaging a way as they could be. It is something to work on - but bringing sketchbooks into the mix is a way to promote drawing. I think it is important for children to explore. In my experience over the past few years, I think that children approach drawing in their sketchbooks as an experiment. Each child's picture/scribble/letter/poked holes in the page will always differ from their neighbor's, and everyone quickly learns that its okay if it doesn't represent something, or if you can't label it. We're just exploring.
On the first day, I showed the blank books at the start of the day and said that we would be using them right before lunch...every day. When we cleaned up after work time, I put the books out and the children sat down and opened their books. The prompt was to draw "anything". Most children got right to it. Some just looked at the book. Some made a line and closed the book. Some drew on every page. We transitioned to wash our hands for lunch after sketchbooks, and some had to have numerous messages that we had to put them away soon. This is a challenge I have had before. If you type "sketchbooks" into the search bar on your right, you'll get some musings on how this has worked in the past.
On day two, the children were asked to "find the circle" in their sketchbook. Some started drawing circles on the cover, one child ripped a page out of the book, others found the circle and started using it as a prompt for something"circle-like" (my expectation when planning the activity). Most children used the prompt eventually. Some just stared for the second day in a row.
So, as we embark on our sketchbook journey once again, I'm giving myself a few tips. First, these belong to the children and they should decide whether or not to follow the prompt. In my experience, eventually, most will. But they need time to explore what it means to have a sketchbook. I need to be patient. Second, planning prompts on a regular basis is important. We had lots of free draw last year, which was good, but some children, who would not normally choose to draw during work time, would make a mark, close the book, and move on. Prompts helped. Third, I need to observe and reflect on how this group uses sketchbooks to think about time. How do we decide how long we work in them? Does there even need to be a time limit? This is something I've struggled with in the past. Fourth, we need to make time to celebrate and share our sketchbooks as a group. In pairs, in small groups, as a large group - the children's reflections on the experience can deepen the whole project.
Does anyone else use sketchbooks on a daily basis? A weekly basis?
(I have used the UK project Sketchbooks in Schools for inspiration - I highly recommend it!)