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Key Sketchbook Concepts

AccessArt advocates the following key sketchbook concepts:

Sketchbooks are an opportunity to put the pupil at the centre of their own learning. Each child should view their sketchbook as a safe place to take creative risks without fear of judgement.

Sketchbooks are an opportunity to “think around”. Sketchbooks should be a place of exploration and discovery, used to gather, experiment, reflect and understand. They are not just a place of open-ended journeying; they also encourage open, inquisitive thinking in other areas of learning.

Teachers should not be afraid if sketchbooks seem chaotic. Artist's sketchbooks are full of personality - some sketchbooks are neat and tidy, others are not. All are valid. Sketchbooks are a place to put unresolved ideas into the world, which can be assimilated later. Sketchbooks are rarely linear and a good sketchbook will raise more questions than answers.

Sketchbook skills can be taught and practised like any other skill.

Sketchbook content should be treated with respect. Creativity is a delicate process. Teachers should not mark directly in the book. Teachers should use one-to-one or small group discussion to help articulate and understand sketchbook content.

Sketchbooks should equate to momentum. Sketchbook use will drive projects forwards and help all children understand their own learning. Pupils (and teachers) should therefore be discouraged from working in a single sketchbook which lasts a year or even longer. Instead sketchbooks should be filled with energy, enthusiasm and momentum.

Two main things can hold sketchbook success back:

Resistance (in the form of control or fear)

Aiming for Preconceived Ideas and Perfection

Look out for the saboteur!


This is a sample of a resource created by UK Charity AccessArt. We have over 1100 resources to help develop and inspire your creative thinking, practice and teaching.

AccessArt welcomes artists, educators, teachers and parents both in the UK and overseas.

We believe everyone has the right to be creative and by working together and sharing ideas we can enable everyone to reach their creative potential.