Project aim: to create a notebook, to understand and encourage the practice of
keeping a notebook.
Duration: 90 minutes Suitability: 1st – 6th classes Materials:
- A3 paper (newsprint is a cost effective solution, or sugar
paper) 8 sheets per child
- Heavy Card (160 gr/m2
minimum) 1 sheet per child
- A long stapler
- Paint, brushes, water, rags
- Scrap paper for protection
- S.P.H.E.: Making and keeping a notebook fosters
self-knowledge. It also encourages self-confidence by allowing children to practice their writing and drawing skills.
- Literacy: a variety of writing activities can be developed
alongside the project, children could write an autobiography
as their selected animal/ object/ plant, alien etc.
- Notebook practice is essential for every artist. Notebooks
come in every shape or size, even on computer files. Almost
everyone working in the arts, whether it is visual arts, theatre, performance, literature or music, will keep some kind
- Notebooks gradually become an extension of an artist.
They use its pages to document, plan and think through
ideas They can also record images, practice drawing, and
- Notebooks should be used as working tools, they are not
finished works for publication.
- One week before the project, ask the children to consider
the question: “If I wasn’t a human, what would I be?”. Explain that whatever they choose should reflect some of their
- Show children examples of the practice of keeping a notebook: http://www.exhibit905.info/throughthesketchbook/1000journals.htm
-The warm-up requires a large open space, outside or in a
hall. It is designed to help children think about themselves,
their physical abilities and limitations.
Introduction: 15 mins
-Bring everyone to a seated position, still in a circle. Re-introduce the question at the heart of the activity:
If you were not a human, what would you be? You can choose an animal, a plant,
an object, an alien, a monster, but it should reflect some of your most important
-Talk to the children about the question, offer suggestions
and discuss the abilities they just explored with their bodies
in the warm-up activity. Choose something for yourself as
an example. (Consider this carefully!)
- Make a small presentation of notebook resources. Explain
the importance of keeping a notebook. Point out these notebooks will not be assessed but they should be used, shared,
and talked about.
- Explain to students that they will make their own notebook with the portrait of their imagined selves on the cover.
Highlight how their choice has to reflect some of their best
- Ask children to write a list of their qualities and think of
what they would like to be. (Keep this sheet of paper, it can
be glued into the new notebook when it is complete.)
Development: 40 mins
-Give each child 8 light sheets (to make a 16 page notebook) and one heavy card sheet.
- Instruct them to fold these in half and insert them into one
another, with the heavy card “cover” on the outside.
- Staple the sheets together.
- Ask each child to bring their notebook to their table and
open it flat. Instruct students to draw their portrait on the
front cover. They should situate the character they chose
within an ideal environment.
Conclusion: 25 mins
- Painted covers should be carefully left on a rack to dry.
The following day they should be taken out and pressed for
the rest of the week as they will become wrinkled.
- Direct an open conversation about who we are, what each
one enjoys doing, what our personality traits or characteristics are, who in our family we share similarities with, what
our friends like about us, etc.
- Allow 10 mins for the children to write an account of the
class. This paper, along with the one where they wrote their
list of qualities, should be glued into their notebook.
It is often difficult to open children’s drawings style up, especially as they get a little
older, being precise and keeping inside the lines often becomes a major goal. This
can lead to a lack of experimentation and active observation in drawing.
We need to focus on developing skills in observational drawing, while also stimulating children to become aware of, take pride in, and develop their own unique style.
Notes for using their notebook
- Children should have their own prittstick, scissors, pencils
(hb and 2b/3b), oil pastels, markers and colouring pencils
- Keep a collage box in the classroom with scrap papers/
magazine (with images and not so many ads) that are collected constantly that children can use and take care of.
- Each week a simple process can be added to the notebooking practice: stapling, pinning, clipping, glueing, sewing, etc.
- If the children have diff erent ideas about a research topic
they can write/ draw and refl ect in this notebook.
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