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Lesson 1: Making A Sketchbook


Students will make a sketchbook using materials found in the home.

Grade Level



Drawing, Construction, Collage

Theme/Big Idea

Artists use sketchbooks to collect ideas and observations, express feelings, plan future work and experiment with materials and art making. Sketchbooks can be used as inspiration and as a record of life experiences.  

Essential Question

How can I make a sketchbook using materials in my home? What are some ways that artists use sketchbooks?

  • Unit & Lessons
  • Slide Deck

Materials and Tools

  • 10 sheets of 8.5 x 11″ or larger paper of any kind (printer paper is a good option) 
  • A firm paper that is an interesting color for your cover (could be a “found” paper, such as an old calendar or even a magazine cover)  
  • String or yarn, something thicker than thread 
  • Scissors 


Artists use sketchbooks to record what they see, feel and think. Many artists make their own sketchbooks! Let’s make our own today!

Step 1: Gather 5 sheets of paper together. Fold them in half in a single stack. 

Step 2: Mark three even marks along the folded edge of your paper stack 

Step 3: Along the folded edge, use the inside most part of your scissors (not the tip!) to cut a triangular notch at each mark. 

Step 4: Repeat the above steps with another set of 5 papers and add these to the stack. 

Step 5: Cut your yarn or string one arms’ length. To do this, stretch the string out tautly with your arms fully extended. 

Step 6: From the outside, keeping the book folded, put each end of the string through the outermost holes. Your two string ends will now be inside the book. 

Step 7: Open your book and loop the string ends back out through the middle hole.  

Step 8: Fold the book again, pull the strings through tightly, and tie them together.  

Reflection Questions for Discussion

  • We’ve just created a small sketchbook of our own. Have you ever used a sketchbook or diary before?  
  • What comes to mind when you imagine using your sketchbook?  


Bookbinders call a group of papers tied together a “signature” Many signatures can be glued together to create larger books.


Shinro Ohtake, Scrapbook #66, 2010–2012, mixed media artist book, 28¼ x 37¾ x 50¾ in, 27.2 kg, 830 pages 
Betye Saar at the Morgan Library