Great Giveaway: Sketchbook Bonanza!

This giveaway is now closed. Congratulations to Patricia B who said she loves working with blind contour drawings. Best of luck to everyone next time!

It’s your lucky day! Today our friends at Blick Art Materials are giving away a class set (25) of their 5.5″ x 8″ Blick Studio Sketchbooks along with a copy of the book The Drawing Mind by Deborah Putnoi. This set is just what you need to jump start sketchbooks with your students. Enter below!

Blick Sketchbook

The Drawing Mind

To Enter:

1. Comment below and tell us the best or worst sketchbook assignment that you have ever had to complete! One entry per person.

2. NOTE: Be sure to sign in with your email address or social account when you fill out the comment form so we have a way to contact you if you are the lucky winner.

3. This giveaway will be closed Friday, January 17th at Midnight, Central Time. The winner will be chosen by This article will be updated announcing the winner on Sunday, January 19th.

Good luck and happy sketching!

Psst – AOE isn’t paid for giveaways- we just do it because we love our readers and want you to win some cool stuff!


If you’re looking for even more great sketchbook options, Blick has you covered. Here are a few favorites that have fun twists.

  • Looking for a sketchbook that’s easy for students to customize? Look no further than the Big Black Bee Bogus Recycled Sketch Book. With a 100% recycled brown paper cover, it’s easy for any student to get creative!

Amanda Heyn

Amanda is the Senior Editor at AOE. She has a background in teaching elementary art and enjoys working to bring the best ideas from the world of art ed. to the magazine each day. 


  • Erica Gorzen

    The best sketchbook assignment that I have given is ‘finish the portrait.’ The students select a photo of any person’s face, cut the image in half, tape one half of the portrait in their sketchbook, and draw the other half in pencil to complete the image. The students fuss about doing the drawing but they always put the most effort into them and they come out amazing.

  • Clara Crosby

    The best sketchbook assignments that I give is to have an object set out at each table and students take the first 5 minutes to draw what they see.

  • Name

    The best sketchbook assignment is drawing an object a number of different ways and seeing the progression in your drawing abilities. Starting with a blind contour drawing, then the contour drawing, and ending with being able to lift the pencil and sketch. I love to see the progression of students’ attitudes towards drawing.

  • MrPlinke

    My favorite sketchbook assignment is to illustrate a section of your favorite book or poem. Students first neatly write the quoted text or stanza, then fill the page with an illustration which describes the quote.
    I’m always amazed at the time students put into this assignment, and the varied results across the class. Students seem to really enjoy sharing their likes.

  • Victoria Smith

    My favorite sketchbook assignment is to redesign a bill for a well-known movie. The kids especially like talking about their favorite movies.

  • Laurie

    My favorite sketchbook assignment is to take a topic or project and list 100 “action words” listing ways you do something to it…the first 10 are always pretty predictable, but by the time you get to 90 – 100 you’re thinking wa-a-a-ay out of the box and develope some really creative ideas.

  • candace pridemore

    My students just love to do Zentangles. Their imagination just bubbles out of them.

  • Susan Legere

    My favorite sketchbook assignments are blind contour drawings because it is fun to be “allowed” to draw in a loose and not constricted way. It warms up the artist, gets the juices flowing, and connects the eyes, hand and mind to work in a creative synergy. It is a great way to even the playing field because anyone can do it and have success!

  • Amy Thomas

    My favorite sketchbook assignment was to partner up with another student and illustrate a poem written by that student and then vice versa, the student illustrated a poem written by me. I really learned a lot about the other student and I gained a great friend.

  • C. Ibarra

    My favorite sketchbook assignments involve drawing food and beverages.

  • Kendall Gamelin

    My favorite sketchbook assignment is having students draw something in their room at home. Kids love it and it’s fun see what they choose.

  • erica

    Draw your backpack! They are always wondering why they have to bring their backpacks:)

  • Amanda Fogarty

    I teach elementary art and I love having students create a sketch based on a silly sentence. For example, The orange rabbit had lunch with the fuzzy hippo. The kids really enjoy coming up with detailed drawing to reflect the sentence. It is also a great way to incorporate literacy within their sketchbooks!!! :)

    • Jen Matott

      This is a fun idea! LOVE it!

    • Amanda Heyn

      I do this too, Amanda! They really get into it.

  • Christy

    I love to have students do 30 second sketches of a wooden figure from each seat at the table then switch tables. By the time they have made it around the room they really grasp the ‘quick sketch’ concept and giggle constantly.

  • Lacey

    Drawing 50 tea pots the was worst assignment I ever had to draw.

  • Victoria

    I teach junior high and high school art. One way I have used sketchbooks is when students enter the art room, they get their sketchbook out right away. Written on the board will be instructions of what to draw that day in their sketchbook. Each table will have something on it to draw: sometimes it’s a toy I brought from home, it might be a piece of fruit, or a common object. It could be a still life even. They are given about 10-15 minutes to do a quick sketch, and they know it’s ok if they don’t finish. These are my “warm up exercises” for them to do, and it gives me time to take attendance, and make sure all materials we will need for that class period are in place. I play soft music while they are sketching, and they love it. This also sets the tone for art class: working quietly and making good use of their time! I do check their sketchbooks periodically, and they receive credit for these practive sketches.

  • Stacey

    My 5th and 6th graders LOVE drawing a cereal box cover for a sketchbook assignment!!! And they always turn out really well, plus I know they actually looked at something and drew it.

  • Jen Matott

    When I was in school, I had to keep a sketchbook and draw objects each week/ day. It was boring and I did not save any of them… when I taught High School art, I started having kids do Visual Journals and we had “playtime” each Friday. They would have 20 mins to explore a material that i introduced to them and could create backgrounds on pages or just explore on seperate paper to use later. They LOVED it! So did I. It was way more personal and fun! They did draw, collage, and journal over those “experiences” but it gave them some tools to use and provided a less scary surface to draw on.. White pages are a little intimidating! I actually do visual journals myself and have participated in the Sketchbook Project for 3 years! It’s fun to have a theme for the whole book and know that they are on display for anyone to view!

  • Elizabeth

    One of my student teaching assignments (eons ago!) was in a small Catholic school. I had a small class of 9th graders that I just could not seem to reach. Anyhoo…, since I didn’t know all the rules (supervising teacher left me alone alot), I thought we should go outside and sketch. The church graveyard was adjoining the school, so we went out and sketched the old trees, tombstones, worked on honing drawing textures, and did much talking, getting to know each other better. The kids were sooo well behaved and thoughtful, their work was great! It made getting in trouble (me, not the kids lol!)worth it!

    • Amanda Heyn

      Cool story, Elizabeth! I bet the kids loved it.

  • Angela

    The worst sketchbook assignment I can remember was a self portrait assignment. I was sitting in the bathroom floor in front of a door mirror trying to draw myself!

  • Shirley H

    One of my favorite sketchbook assignments is to design a tattoo for a teacher. It’s always fun to see what students come up with for my colleagues.

    • Amanda Heyn

      Ha! How fun!

      • Shirley H

        It is definitely a lot of fun when the kids really think about it.

        I must admit that I also like a lot of the ones people describe as their least favorite as well as the ones they love. Even though I don’t want to draw 10 or so thumbnails, my first idea is rarely my best. I like them for different reasons. For some, the end result of going through the process is what I like where with others the actual process is what I like.

      • MonicaW

        These ideas are great! One of my best sketchbook assignments was to select a symbol from and to reimagine the symbol. I spent pages playing around with different imaginings of the symbol I chose.

  • Julie Brunner Cross

    My favorite assignment is having each of the students pose for 30 seconds while the rest of the class does a gesture drawing of them. It is a great ice breaker, even the shy kids get into it and everyone has a good time!

  • Peg

    My all time favorite sketchbook assignment is sitting in the doorway of a room and then drawing what you see!

  • Denise

    I really try to use student sketchbooks as an idea bank. Each student is to assign a theme for their sketchbook and create the first image. Every week they get a different student’s sketchbook and create an image to support that theme. At the end of the year students are to create an artwork based on that theme. These sketchbooks stay in class so if they leave the current project at home they have something to work on in class. They love to see what other students do with the theme.

  • Danielle

    One of my favorite sketchbook assignments was illustrating words (such as wet, fade, sweep) which led into a pop art project about Roy Lichtenstein and onomatopoeia. Many-a-fun-thing came of this sketchbook assignment and project!

  • Carl Ankenbrand

    I can’t remember my Favorite or my worst…dang I’m getting old, I would love to receive some freebies though!! I do love Dick Blick!

  • April Ryan

    I always dreaded the very vague and open-ended “Complete 10 sketches.” I love sketchbook assignments/activities that inspire creativity and that help develop drawing & observational skills!!

  • Candace Hull

    My favorite assignment was during my student teaching when we all had to draw an object that we have used that day. It was interesting to apply form and function in our 5 minute morning discussion. It made us hyper aware of the design of each product.

  • Amber Burns

    My sketchbook world completely changed for me when I was introduced to the artist Dan Eldon. I was introduced to this whole new world of visual journals! After that I wasn’t afraid to make mistakes anymore, or worry about the blank page. Things are ever changing with visual journals and you can use them for anything! As Dan Eldon says, “The journey is the destination”!

  • Stacey

    One sketchbook challenge I like to see my students explore is having them react to the fragments of magazine pictures that someone else glues onto one of their book pages. Then that student has to complete the scene by being creative and filling in the gaps with their own drawings.

  • Christy Matthews

    My favorite sketchbook assignment was when we would listen to a certain song and then have to describe that song with an image. It would never have words we would just have to feel what the composer was saying. It was enlightening. My least favorite sketchbook assignment would have been where we would have to draw the same thing over and over and over again it just became tedious.

  • valerie

    One of my favorite prompts was when we were given a small natural object such as a twig, leaf or shell and asked to study it’s lines and “catch” their rhythm and flow; I love getting lost in the intricacy.

  • Mary L.

    worst sketchbook assignment ever: draw 1000 straight lines without the use of a ruler!!

    • Amanda Heyn

      Oh my, Mary. That does sound horrible! Makes me remember when I had to “throw 20 cylinders on the wheel” in college (shudder).

  • Rachelle

    Oh how I would LOVE to win this one!! Thanks for the opportunity. :)

  • Annette Meglino

    My students use their sketchbooks very much the same way I have always been using mine, as a visual journal. We do our contour warm ups, shading lessons, color lessons, experimentation, line, texture, exploration of anything being discussed. Or just simple doodles. It’s non threatening and a great way to keep track along the way.

  • Sara Allen

    There are too many to choose from, however I get super excited when I have an elementary student make a mini version of our main project in their sketchbook without being asked. :)

  • Kaci Smith

    I love obscure sketch books assignments that really get the
    kids thinking. I use the book “Soul
    Pancake” a lot when coming up with sketch book/visual journal prompts. My FAVORITE, so far, is the “Soul Scribble.” What does a soul look like…what does your soul look like? At first my kids looked at me like I was crazy but once we started a discussion they caught on and I got some really unique interpretations!
    I use their sketch books/visual journals to really get the brain/creativity juices flowing! It’s a place to play, create, imagine, and most importantly…MESS UP! It’s a safe place to experiment and discover.

  • Carol Hamrick

    I recently combined a project of creating a mini accordion sketchbook, writing a futuristic story about what the world could look like in 50 years,(describing buildings, transportation, fashion, and art), and drawing a sketch to represent something from the story. The smaller size (4″X6″) seemed much less intimidating and my students loved making them, and drawing in them!

  • Steph Holmberg

    I have been using ideas from “Drawing Lab” with my elementary students for awhile. I really like the “Seuss Buildings”, Miro exercise, One-liners, One-Eyed creatures, and machines. The kids are so creative and loosen up with these activities!

  • sarah

    I love the challenge of finding 5 things from a certain room and drawing them. I start to see things in my house in a new way.

  • Natalie Czerwinski

    We use sketchbooks as “process journals” as part of the IB program. So students do their daily warm ups, sketches, and end up writing a lot of reflections. My favorite assignment has to be the 6th grade portrait unit; students start by drawing a self portrait as best as they can without any instructions. Each day they learn how to draw different features and proportions and end with a final portrait, kind of like putting together a puzzle. The best part of this is the day they get to compare their first drawing to their very last, it’s instant evidence of their artistic growth. They get so excited and proud.

  • pam krout-voss

    I like to draw an object and transform it into something else. This haelps develop eye-hand and creativity.

  • Troy DeBill

    I always loved still life drawing assignments! One of my favorites would have to include drawing a spoon in a glass half full of water. It was challenging, but I learned quite a bit about distortion:) It is one I use with my students now that I am an art teacher!

  • Ms. Mona

    One of the best sketchbook assignments I had was to create a collage with a variety of magazine images and headlines, all kinds of ephemera, stenciling, etc and to include a small brown paper envelope. In the envelope include a small handwritten note of what you are thankful for, seal the envelope closed and sign the seam. To this day, I love that sketchbook page.
    A sketchbook assignment I didn’t like was to write our own epitaph and illustrate it like an illuminated manuscript.

  • Kathy Peck

    The most fun sketchbook assignment we have done was a design where each student chose an abstract noun or larger concept (love, war, marriage, jealousy, etc.). Then each student had to transform those lettters into an image or series of images that had to do with the meaning of the word. A little like the Google contests, but more focused on creatively involving the letters into a personal definition. It was amazing how creative and in-depth students went considering their topics!

  • Ashley Fournier

    My fifth graders would love a place to keep their ideas safe! When I was a young art student I loved the style of these black sketchbooks.

  • southiefolk

    My favorite that I do with my students the chip bag story. I give each child a bag of chips and have them do a contour line drawing. Next, they open the bag (yes,they have to eat some chips!) and draw a contour drawing of the new view. The third drawing is a shaded drawing of inside the bag. The fourth and final drawing is to imagine they are the final chip left in the bag and to draw that chips view, using color if they like! I used to do it with 8 the grade, but since we nolonger go past grade 6, I will be trying it with 6th this year.
    As a college student I spent an entire semester drawing popcorn in my sketchbook. It was also a personal favorite!

  • Amy Olszanowski

    My favorite sketchbook assignments challenge the students to think outside the box. This year, the students created their sketchbook assignments (SBAs). Each student wrote their ideas for SBAs on a post-it, then they posted it on one of my bulletin boards. I went through them, selected 9 and numbered the post-it for the first 9 weeks. I arranged them in order on the bulletin board, so it’s posted for the students that forget their sketchbooks. I typed them with the due dates and instructions, and we taped them into their sketchbooks the next day. Since I have small classes, and there are usually some duplicate ideas, each student gets to assign an SBA.

  • Amanda Heyn

    I am LOVING all of these ideas! Keep them coming!

  • Eric Swope

    Great idea to leave a comment. I’m getting a lot of ideas from them. My favorite sketchbook assignment is one that my high school teacher did back in the 80’s that I still use today (why reinvent the wheel, HAHA). It involves hiding an object in a paper bag and the students need to draw what they think is in the bag by feeling. It’s always fun to see the look on their face when they reveal the object.

  • Dee Hartman

    I like sketchbook assignments that explore a technique in more detail. For instance, when patterns will be needed in a large project each student will create all the patterns they can think of on their own and then we share!

  • Britt Irvin

    In art school we had to complete sketchbook assignments based on this book,

    Learning to Love You More, by Miranda July

    Best: Hang a wind chime in a tree in an empty parking lot. Draw how it sounds.
    Worst: Take a picture of under your bed.

  • Britt Irvin

    In art school we had to complete sketchbook assignments based on the book, “Learning to Love You More” by Miranda July.

    Best: Put a wind chime in a tree in an empty parking lot. Draw the sound.
    Worst: Take a picture of under your bed.

  • Lisa

    I’m sad to say I never had a teacher give sketchbook assignments in MS or HS! Or even college, now that I think about it… Odd. Anyway… I LOVE sketchbooks now. I use one a lot. Actually, I think I have about 5 – including a small one in my purse. I assign blind contours often to my upper elementary students. They love them.

  • jimmic

    My favorite assignment was during a two week course – each day we were to draw in our sketchbooks, and each day something on that page had to relate to something on the previous page – it turned out to be almost story-like! I enjoyed it and found myself lost in the artwork :)

  • Cydney Johnson

    My favorite sketchbook assignment was a still life drawing of pipes, but the catch was that the pipes had to show motion. So it combined the art of still life drawing and the perception and concept of showing movement in a drawing. Everyone’s turned out amazing. I still have mine after eight years!

  • Sherry Mirakian Mourning

    My favorite sketch assignment (and one that I often give to my 8th grade students when we are learning about value) is to draw an egg with a specific light source.It is safer if you use a hard boiled egg, for obvious reasons.I tell my students to place the egg in a tissue, paper towel or cloth to support it and set it near a light. They can use a lamp or candle or flashlight. Or the egg could be near a window with daytime natural light. Then using artist pencils, I ask the students to concentrate on the shading and highlights in the egg still life. The results are varied and wonderful!

  • Liz

    My favorite thing was just using my sketchbook to keep track of things that inspired me and magazine clippings. As a teacher, I have the 8th grade class use half of their sketchbooks as an art journal. I enjoy seeing their art journals come to life and showcase their creativity. It has also inspired me to keep up with my own art journal.

  • Jessica Nadeau

    I like to have students empty their pockets, and draw the objects they find.

  • Jenny Pulliam

    Worst. I took an advanced drawing class in college and we drew the same silver chair all semester!

  • kathy hanson

    A sketchbook assignment I had to do in college was to draw a self-portrait of how I might look when I was 80. I still have it so I can compare it to the real thing when I get to that age. I hope I don’t forget where I put it.

  • Lisa Thomson-Baker

    Doodling. Random doodling and experimenting with line, shape and color.

  • Jessica Vatter-Davis

    This is sort of a best and worst. My 2D design professor in college was IN LOVE with thumbnail sketches. One of the first sketchbook assignments we ever had was to create thumbnail sketches demonstrating each of the elements and principles of design using an apple as the subject matter. It wasn’t enough just to have one thumbnail for each, either. You had to have like 10 different examples for each one! Needless to say, I was extremely turned off from apples after that, but I certainly never forgot my elements and principles or how to identify, and utilize them . So, while it was not a winner for the students, it was for my professor because we definitely mastered the objective!

  • Rachel Donnelly

    For a great sketchbook assignment, I recently discovered the art of Zentangling. This is a great tool to get kids to focus, push abstraction, and study the art of zen. I recently included it with a mandala project. My favorite activity is to play different types of music and to have the students compare what their zentangles look like while listening to different types of music and in different mindsets. Plus, the designs look incredible.

  • Courtney

    My favorite sketchbook assignment is one that I created for my Intro Art students. The sketch prompt is “My Cause” and I give them a few definitions of cause such as, a reason for doing or feeling something, a belief, goal or idea that you support or fight for…etc. I usually limit the materials for certain sketchbook assignments if I want them to experiment with techniques we are working on in class. So for this particular sketchbook assignment, they have to choose a newspaper article that relates to their cause to use as a material on watercolor paper, they have to use charcoal, india ink and white conte. I find that when you limit the materials as well as give small requirements like your sketch must include value, think about composition, common light source…that it actually helps in the creative process.

  • Vicky Siegel

    In a color class in college we had to do painting assignments in our sketchbook: primary colors, secondary, contrasting, etc. It was awesome- since I cut them out and laminated them and now use them as visuals for my students years later!!

  • Kate Daniels

    One of my favorite classroom sketchbook assignments is taking a dropper with ink, giving each student a drop of ink, a nib pen, and a small coffee stirring straw. Students can then blow the ink around on the page to create an abstract design. Once the ink has been moved around on the page they can look at the abstract design and work into the ink with the nib pen to draw something that they see in the ink or make creative lines. Sketchbooks need to be left open until they are dry or the pages will stick together. This exercise allows students to start drawing initially through play and then use different drawing techniques.

  • Jennifer McPhail Hastings

    These ideas are fantastic! I can’t wait to use them with my students, especially the tattoo idea-priceless. My favorite that my students have done, is the blind contour drawings-it helps them see beauty in the lines.

  • Lisa Rein Banker

    I loved having to use a material that was not intended as an art supply….a tea bag….a stick and dirt…nail polish etc.

  • Tiffany

    As a student, the teacher would put up an idiom on the board. We had to interpret them and draw them in our sketch books. I liked having the freedom to draw what I felt they could mean knowing there was no right or wrong. It was difficult for some students because they didn’t have the back ground knowledge to be able to figure out what they could mean.

  • Romy

    I gave a drawing “prompt” where I had the kids close their eyes and imagined they were in a house where a weird sound could be heard. The sound was coming from a closet. They imagined they tip toed to the closet and opened it to see what was there. Most loved it! And the wise-achers who said there was nothing there still had to draw the closet. Because, I have never seen an empty closet. Only two had doorways with a rod and hangers only.

  • Vicki

    As a high school student i hated recieving broad sketchbook assignments. Draw an animal or city scape. Instead when I became an art teacher I went ahead and assigned sketchbooks but with more of a purppose in mind. For instance do a 4 page study of a soda can, try different angles, sizes, overlap or distort. This gives more guildance for what I am looking for.

  • Sarah

    One of my favorites was to draw a childhood stuffed animal using different materials. One of the worst was to draw my own feet. Just didn’t like that assignment because feet, from the top without shoes, are kinda flat and boring.

  • Julie Goode

    I live and teach in a small rural town in Texas. We have several really old buildings within walking distance of the school. After we have had our lessons on perspective, I had my 7th graders draw an old abandoned barn. It has lots of character with one of doors hanging by only one hinge and the roof is rusty tin. The 8th graders drew a bank that was built in the early 1900s. Most of the windows are intact, but the door is missing. The limestone siding is weathered but the pillars on the porch still have their burgundy color.

  • Buffy Houchens

    My favorite sketchbook assignment is to finish the line. I draw a line on their paper and incorporate that line into a drawing.

  • Katie Lewis

    My favorite sketchbook assignment: Finish the picture! Glue in a small piece of paper with a piece of a random image on it, and your job is to finish it… however you want!

  • Marie E

    The hardest was to draw your dirty laundry pile- all those drapey folds!!

    • Amanda Heyn

      I agree, Marie! Fabric is so tricky.


    Denise D.
    My very favorite drawing lesson this year is on colored paper with construction paper crayons (bought from Blick). The portrait lesson that I have taught for years took on a whole new richness. Fourth grade used black paper and fifth blue. This allowed my students to attempt value studies without fear of failure. As for a lesson that failed…ummm? I experience frustration each week with 30 art for Kindergarten. By the time they come into the art room and get (almost) settled there is little time for a real art experience.

  • Douglas Lloyd

    I can’t say I have ever had a bad sketchbook assignment. The ones that I like involve observation drawing and working in black and white, in pencil or charcoal. I also like working with Zentangles in a sketchbook format.
    If I win the book and the sketchbooks, they will definitely be used by my students.
    Thanks for the give away in advance!

  • Elizabeth Martin

    Best? Blind contour gestures in crayon.

  • Terry Scutro

    Although older, I am only in my second year of teaching high school and I am frustrated by the lack of motivation of the students assigned to my classes. I am planning to introduce sketchbooks as a way to get my advanced students to practice drawing, and also to gain self-confidence and learn to express themselves. I have been collecting ideas and look forward to introducing my students to the idea of turning to different media, such as collage, in addition to creative sketching. The materials offered in your contest would be an awesome help!!!

  • kelsey gerveler

    One of my professors in college had us draw what we thought the inside of our stomach looked like after lunch! ew!

    • Amanda Heyn

      That’s so funny!

  • Denise McRea

    My best sketchbook assignment was to fill an animal silhouette with “doodles.” This was years before Zentangles (I am 51), but it is an assignment I still use in my own classroom to teach balance, variety, unity, line and shape. Plus, it is just plain fun!

  • Debbi ross

    Anything that sparks imagination. My favorite : if you were Alice and fell down a rabbit hole, what would your Wonderland look like?

    • Heather Crockett

      Ooh, this one gets me imagining what I would draw already. I love it!

  • Gretchen Bjornson

    Any assignments that involve “Zentangles” and watercolor washes are my favorites. Thanks!

  • Stephanie

    My favorite is drawing upside down. The kids think it is hilarious!

  • Alyssa Mattheis

    For high school: My favorite sketchbook assignment is a line drawing of your fingerprint. The student darkens a fingertip with charcoal or soft graphite and places their fingerprint on a scratch piece of paper. The student then renders a careful observation of the lines they see.

    It forces a student to carefully observe the lines on their own finger and the product is a wonderful, unique, abstract line drawing.

    For elementary: draw me what your stomach looks like after lunch today. It’s a silly drawing of whatever they have eaten and how the student imagines these foods are interacting with one another.

  • Rachel R.

    My favorite sketchbook assignment was to take a snippet of a photo or illustration and complete the picture using our imagination. Lots of good ideas here for my own class sketchbook assignments!

  • Verity

    My best sketchbook activity was with 5th graders- they chose a dead leaf that had character and then drew an enlarged version keeping all the details. I then photocopied all the drawings several times and the children then swapped their leaves. These were then creatively pasted onto another sheet. Some children added further highlights with pencil others chose to colour. The result was fabulous. This forum is a great way to get new ideas! Thanks

  • Sarah K

    Favorite personal sketchbook “assignment”: I recently took a drawing class for adults that met at a different pub each week. The final evening of the five week course took place at a pizza place/ bowling alley. It was so much fun trying to capture gestures of other patrons in between turns of our own game. (Taking the class reignited my love of drawing and eased my fear of drawing in public places.)

    Favorite assignments to give to students: Once a month I give my high school students a word and ask them to interpret it into an image. January was “transformation.”

  • linda

    My favorite sketchbook activities were done during a figure drawing class. Quick 1 minute, 3 minute, 5 minute gesture drawings were great! I still have these sketches….kept you loose and you didn’t have time to judge yourself they moved so quickly.

  • Sheryl Depp

    My best drawing assignment was in college where we copied and drew hands from a science book. They can be found in my closet and they are over 30 years old. Using hands for inspiration is so symbolic of caring and loving. After all, we use our hands to create-why not use them as the theme.

  • Klair

    The WORST sketchbook assignment I ever had was to “draw your personal coat of arms”- we had to think of symbols that represented us and put them on a shield. I’m not a fan of sketchbook assignments that ask you to narrow down who you are.

    The BEST sketchbook assignment I had was definitely blind contour drawings. The results are always exciting.

  • Barbara-Jill Winter-Vitale

    Favorite was drawing brown paper lunch bags in different stages of crumpled up.

  • Margaret Roddey O’Neal

    I am of the Betty Edwards era. Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain. The one where you had to draw the guy upside down was an eye-opener!

  • Susan Mencini

    BEST ever was for a college portrait drawing class. Due each week were 7 portraits. You turned in the sketchbook at the beginning of class each week and they were ‘graded’ and returned for the next 7 for the entire 1/2 semester. I learned much about the portrait and it was great practice. Were they all good, no but one does learn by doing and their mistakes.

  • Kristin

    My favorite sketchbook drawing was from High School…I was studying through a summer program at a state college. Throughout lectures, I drew blind contours of the new faces of students and staff around me. As I got to know these individuals for the summer- it was really neat to see how I’ captured their personalities! Anyhow, once I returned home and missed all of my new friends, I decided to collage them together into a large work of art. I used tracing paper to fit them together- so that they looked as though they were created though one never-ending line. I then highlighted parts of each person with a dabble of color….the final product was breathtaking!

  • Jeni Griggs Yantis

    Favorite sketchbook assignment is “checker board” – magazine picture cut into smallish squares and rearranged/glued back on the paper leaving out every other square……then finish the picture. My students usually have good results and say its their favorite also!

  • Susan C

    Some of my favorite sketchbook assignments are bird drawings, and fish. Students usually feel successful with these

  • Sara Toothman

    My favorite sketchbook assignment involved monster doodles. I had the students draw some ridiculous random doodles in their books and try to transform their abstracted drawings into dinosaurs and monsters. Grading them was lighthearted and fun.

  • Whitney Beth

    The worst sketchbook assignment I ever had was to draw a friend in uniform. It could be a friend in a sports uniform or band uniform. I was so nervous. I didn’t want to make anyone look bad. lol

  • Susan

    My favorite sketchbook assignments were for my life drawing classes. I really enjoyed the quick sketches. I also enjoyed keeping a sketchbook for quick gesture drawings of everyday images from life.

  • Kim Correro Fandel

    I guess the worst sketchbook assignment that I had to complete would have to be the blind contour drawings of my hands. It is probably the worst because it was one of the most difficult. In hind sight though, I understand how valuable it was. When I have my own students do it, I hear the same complaints. Hopefully one day, they too will understand how valuable an assignment it is.

  • Nanna

    Best AND worst were gesture drawings: some days they were freeing and fun, others they were awful and inhibiting…

  • Karina Warren

    the BEST was “draw something not pretty”. the students came up with some interesting and clever things. they also really enjoyed it and it allowed them to use humor, which is always a hit!

  • Liz

    My Favorite Sketchbook assignment was for my Fibers Class, we were assigned to fill the sketchbook with photos, stories, drawings, color swatches, and sketches that could relate to our 3 main projects: fabric manipulation, surface design, and paper making, I learned so much in that class by keeping my sketchbook with me at all times and putting all my ideas into it. I still have that sketchbook and sometimes refer back to it for color schemes or just to reminisce on my projects or ideas.

  • Rodd Wellington

    I get great results with upside down drawing with students

  • Mary Gallagher

    Best: Draw part of an everyday object as if you were seeing it through a microscope or magnifying glass. Exchange drawings with other students and guess what each drawing might be.
    Worst: Observe and draw a living insect. EWWWWW!

  • Anne Bailey

    Best and worst: draw crumpled paper. It was so difficult and I hated the assignment while I was doing it. It was only after a few weeks of sketching crumpled paper that I realized how much my drawing skills were improving. It also helped me view things in a more abstract manner.

  • Rachel Albert

    No such thing as a bad sketchbook assignment! But if I have to choose one in order to win this contest, I’ll choose “Something pretty”. The best assignment that I’ve given to my students was to draw a “Flibberjam”. It’s a word I made up, but the kids came up with such amazing sketches of what they thought it was. Imagination at its best!

  • Nicole McCulloch O’Leary

    “Scavenger hunt inches”. A list of things students have to find and cut out from magazines newspapers etc, they have to be in inch in size, it makes for an interesting composition!

  • Lynn Beck

    In college we were given the assignment to draw a building near campus. Several students set up across the street from the local bank. In a few minutes, police were called because apparently it is illegal to draw a bank building. As if they were casing the place!

  • Hannah

    My favorite assignment to give my middle school students is, “Draw what you think a burp looks like.” Oh the possibilities!

  • Marcia Beckett

    My favorite one in high school was a page of doodles. I still love to doodle.

  • baldaufa

    Each art class I have ever taught I supply a sketchbook to the students. The first assignment is to make a cover that we glue on it. The spiral bound sketchbooks are a pain. I get free sketchbooks at bookbinding companies.
    I look at the sketchbook as a visual journal were kids can go were they want. I use it as the start of class for 10 minutes. I don’t tell them what to draw. I do tell them the more you draw the better you get. The directions students take with their sketchbooks amaze me and impress me when I photograph the sketches and put them on Artsonia.

  • Amy Stachler-Klingshirn

    my favorite sketchbook lesson is just doodling or lettering~my least favorite is anything with too many restrictions_

  • Kathy Olson

    So many things I love about sketchbooks…zentangles, contour line, magazine half drawings, daily monsters, mixed media messes!

  • Jess Day

    Worst: having to do magazine collages in my sketchbook my senior year in college.

    Best: stream of consciousness writing/drawing

  • Lisa Brown

    The worst sketchbook assignment was drawing grids of straight lines without using a ruler! It was so tedious, but now I can draw straight lines with no ruler. It actually was good practice just not fun.

  • Art_GottaLoveIt

    My best sketchbook assignment was having to make a drawing everyday. It pushed me to work daily .

  • Adam Laughlin

    My favorite sketchbook assignment was to cut a hole in the page and make the drawing interact with the image you could see on the next page.

  • Kaycie Peck

    best sketchbook assignment: magazine collage by value for an image
    worst sketchbook assignment: half drawings without choosing which image we draw from

    I have really been working on independent choices for sketchbook assignments for my students, and it’s really working this quarter!

  • Heather Shean

    The best assignment by far was to draw the pieces of a board game in extreme close up and from an interesting point of view, including a portion of the board. Great lesson in observational drawing, using value and perspective.

  • Jen

    My favorite sketchbook assignments are when I get to incorporate song lyrics, poetry, or writing!

  • spencefi

    My favorite sketchbook assignment was the parent/child journal assigned to my daughter in second grade. We had fun writing and drawing to each other, and learned so much about ourselves.

  • Sally Powell

    I assigned a sketchbook assignment to alter the page by tearing holes into the page, distressing the page by wadding it up, adding watercolor and saran wrap.Let the page dry with the saran wrap in place. After the page dried, students could choose to weave in and out of the holes with different types of material. They could then write poetry, or journal thoughts on the page, add photographs, gum wrappers, etc to their page. Lots of fun. Very interesting to see students individual personalities.

  • Charmaine Boggs

    One that is a hit with my middle school students is drawing wrapped candy, like Jolly Ranchers or snack packs of Skittles, then getting to eat the props when the work is finished. My most “unforgettable”personal sketchbook experience was an entire quarter of starting every sculpture class with drawing crumpled grocery sacks. I know it was to sharpen our skills, but it was so, so boring!

  • Kim

    The best assignment I’ve done with a sketchbook was when we were working with drawing faces. We took clippings from magazines for eyes, then mouths, noses, ears, hair styles and finally whole faces; cut them out and mounted them – 4-5 on a page. Then we drew them, trying to get the proportions, values and details as close to the originals as possible. It was awesome to have these examples all in one sketchbook to refer back to and to see the progression as they got better and better. I still have mine!

  • Stephanie Carlson-Pruch

    My favorite sketchbook journey……during an imagination visualization….”on a path”….”down to the water” that kind of thing…..until you meet your special (self) animal….I found myself visualizing strongly that I was swimming near the bottom of the ocean, darting in and out of the tall green reeds. I “looked” back and caught a view of “myself” …… red, slithering eel. Then we were to sketch what we “experienced” – very powerful. I never forgot it! Still have that sketchbook…. from decades ago!

  • Mrs. C

    Favorite sketchbook assignment was also one of the hardest I ever had to complete. In my first figure drawing class in my college freshman year we had to produce about twenty or more copies of master drawings along with copies of various anatomical drawings. It taught me more about drawing the human figure than anyone could imagine.

  • Valerie Miller

    Best sketchbook assignment: drawing faces. Worst sketchbook assignment: drawing feet.

  • 2Dv8

    My K-5 students favorite sketchbook assignment is to create a fictional pet you wish you had. The made- up animals are amazing and the kids really get into the project.

  • kat

    My favorite sketch to assign to my students is to draw what happy looks like to them. It really makes them think and I love when they giggle over each others creativeness.

  • Rebekah Wrye Owens

    I use sketchbooks for creative exploration with my students- Favorite assignment: Secrets, Truths and Lies- illustrate one of these- the group has to decipher the illustration then decide if it is a secret, truth or lie. Media choice is open- explores creativity, visual literacy, communication plus content. Worst sketchbook assignment ever: illustrate the principles of design using glued-down black rectangles all cut exactly the same size. (That was a college assignment. Drove me crazy ’cause I can’t cut straight lines- actually *paid* someone to cut the rectangles for me!)

  • Jessica Sinclair

    My favorite sketchbook assignments are the 100 days of drawing challenge. I have to be honest. As an art teacher, I find I have NO time to complete my own work or work in a sketchbook. With the inundation of paperwork and creating common core aligned lessons, plus keeping up with what is happening in the art world and having a life outside of school, I have little to no time to do my own work. This sketchbook assignment gave me direction and purpose to begin my own sketching. I actually adopted this for my high school students sketchbook assignments too.

  • Heather Baker

    I am teaching an AP studio art course to a high school student for the first time – first time for myself and first time at my school! One of the requirement for this course is for the student to keep a sketchbook. This inspired me to get my own sketchbook, which I haven’t had in quite some time. It has made me WANT to do more art, to make time to create more art. As an art teacher it’s important to do that, but as we all know, where is the time?!

  • Amy Janicki

    OH.. to narrow down to just one favorite is hard. The sketchbook is such an integral part of the thinking process I find. Somedays the sketchbook is a great tool for loosening up my students with quick assignments like: Draw lines in your sketchbook while walking around the room. Turn those lines into an abstract composition. Choose a section of your exploration and enlarge. Somedays writing and reflecting honestly about their own work is so important to the assignment. It’s difficult to pick a favorite. I find students view their art so preciously that some of my favorite sketchbook assignments are when they have to do something totally outside the box like transform this page with only glue. We then discuss the results and the process. Gets them loose and thinking!!


    I love sketchbooks! I used them at my middle school assignment and now I used them every day with my 5th graders not just to give them space to draw freely but help them formulate ideas and think through the process of anything we do. For instance, my fifth graders are designing a collaborative installation project for our school; to brainstorm and narrow down the focus, we’ve been using sketchbooks to make this happen – the students love having a space to create ideas and build on them as preparation for the actual project!

  • quitecontrary1977

    In my drawing 101 class in college, we had the assignment of drawing paper bags. I had been drawing for years at this point, but that assignment kicked my butt! Who knew how difficult it would be to draws crumply sacks! I had got a B- just out of pity. The drawing were really terrible.

  • Laura Carey

    I love to assign daily drawing to my advanced MS kids. The simplest things can become the most detailed drawings!

  • Beth Ha

    A program out of Seattle, WA called, Art With Heart uses evidence based therapeutic books and programs that help struggling children cope with difficult life experiences. Several years back I attended one of their trainings and found the sketchbook lessons from Chill and Spill to be meaningful and relevant.

  • Heather Colombatto

    The best sketchbook assignment I ever gave was to take an object from a magazine and glue it in the book. Then students had to add additional elements to the object to ‘transform’ it into something else or add onto it to make it part of something else.. Any media in the room was available for the assignment. It was very interesting to see what students came up with. .

  • Meg Beshey

    I had to go to a park and try to draw a live squirrel w/ as much detail as possible and if that wasn’t possible look for a bird…challenging

  • Stacy

    As the art teacher in my building, I also have the daunting task of completing the science fair boards with our 8th grade students. I assigned each student to start the brainstorming process very early in the year with a sketch of the board, and any ideas they had for color use, encouraging creativity, while teaching them about all the various color families. The assignment went a bit farther by having the students also make sure these color choices connected to the science fair experiment, this wasn’t easy for most of them, however I was pleased with the results. This assignment was new for me, and it gave me a great way to assess what they had as an original idea, versus what they ended up with!

  • Colette Alexandra

    One of my least favorite sketchbook assignments was from a college design course. We had to create value scales, showing at least 8 distinct values, and using different materials. I spent hours agonizing over my shades and tints. I do see the “value” (ha) in creating value scales, but in this case it was more frustrating than useful and rewarding.

  • Tana

    My fourth and fifth graders keep a sketchbook. One of the best received and most popular assignment is to draw a “Whapadoodle.” Of course it is an imaginary, made up word. The results are so diverse. I do stress I am looking for value and line variety. Worst assignments only exist if the student doesn’t take the task seriously.

  • Mary Parkman Rowe

    My favorite sketchbook assignment is to make a thumbnail sketch of a famous painting, simplifying it, using only pencil…AND drawing it UPSIDE DOWN! Any right brain drawing exercises are great for a sketchbook: contour and blind contour drawings, negative space drawings, and cutting a photo in half and completing the other half.

  • Kari Martin

    My worst sketch book assignment was In college my instructor made us write a log of how many minutes each drawing took and we had to accumulate a certain amount weekly. I hate keeping track of time, so this would be my focus and i began to hate doing it!

  • Gena Bauer Smith

    Best sketchbook assignment- start with a selection of 5 colored pencils. Draw for 2 minutes, then change the colored pencil to a new color, and continue until completed. Lots of fun and no erasing.

  • Stephanie Boyd

    The worst sketchbook assignment I have ever given was a writing prompt. It said Describe a boring event in detail. (at our school we have to focus on writing once a week in ALL subjects) Almost all the students wrote about that specific sketchbook page and how disappointed they were that it was the page assignment for the day.

  • Patricia B

    My favorite sketchbook assignment were always blind contour line drawings. I loved working with the shapes once I was finished.

  • Sandi Jo DeLoge

    Love giving the journal assignment of drawing a piece of popcorn!!

  • Andrea Crane

    The best sketchbook assignment I was given was in college, i had to draw a figure using different types of lines. For example, I drew a man lounging using stippling, cross-hatching, scribbling, and contour lines. I love to draw, this was an easy assignment but I loved it.

    In my classroom, students love to free draw in their sketchbooks. They always ask to draw in their sketchbooks when they finish an assignment.

  • Jeannie

    Back in college, my drawing professor had us all pick out an interesting, ordinary object from home and bring it to class. He then informed us that we were to carry that object and our sketchbook everywhere we went and we were to draw that object in our sketchbook 100 different times in 100 different ways over the course of the semester. We could draw the object using different media, draw it in different or unusual places, draw it from different points of view, etc. Although that particular sketchbook assignment was very daunting, it forced me to stretch my creativity and try some new things. The object I brought to class was a teacup and saucer. Had I known I’d be carrying it around with me for several months, I would have chosen something much less breakable! :)

  • Art Teachers Hate Glitter

    I loathed sketchbooks in high school. I don’t remember every receiving any specific assignments, but our teacher required us to have x number of sketches per sketchbook check. The sketches couldn’t relate to a current project, and we were given no other direction other than “do it.” It was painful.

  • Charlene Lear

    Can’t recall any sketchbook assignments so I assume they were rather mundane.

  • Mary

    One of the sketchbook assignments I like best is- right after the new year I have students do a “journal” entry asking them “What they plan on accomplishing in the new year?” then after they have completed that. I have them translate their answer into a visual drawing. Not only does this have them think about their goals, it makes them think abstractly as far as translating their written words into the visual world.

  • Phyllis C.

    The best sketch book assignment is one that was passed down to me by Kerry Pinelli. I let the students choose an image of an insect from a collection of 3 different insects. they can either paste it in their sketchbook or redraw it. They need to give it a background. I get wonderful ideas back. This assignment incorporates student choice and also shows off the students imagination, sense of humor, and ability level.

  • mrspicasso26

    I teach elementary and will have my students design their sketchbook cover using their name to make a radial design. They seem to enjoy it!

  • Kim Horan Colasante

    I have assigned a sketchbook series in which the student will draw members of there family. However they are only drawing a part of the body for example their father’s shoes or feet, their brothers hands, until all body parts have been drawn. Then they will compose a final drawing of their face and the other family members parts. “Your family is a part of you”. Pets are also included. The students love it and it can get pretty funny.

  • Cindy

    My favorite sketchbook assignment was to magnify and draw the inside of a tomato with no lines. It was such an engrossing task, that I lost myself in that timeless right-brain zone; which at that time I had no real explanation for what had happened. Loved the process and the end result.

  • Johanna

    One of the hardest sketchbook assignments was to draw a table top with a house of cards set up on it at the School of the Art Institute in Chicago. It involved drawing the negatives spaces around the cards in order to draw the cards. It turned out to be the best assignment because it forced me to look differently….really helpful and frustrating!

  • Lezlie Baltierra

    The best sketch assignment I had was sketching hands from different perspectives. It really taught me to look at objects in different lights and angles. My teacher then tied this lesson to different what would you do situations, to encourage us to take a step back and look at things in someone else’s shoes. She inspired me to use this method with my 6th graders. Sometimes its famous quotes, philosophy s, or news articles.

  • Carrie

    My favorite is to have the children sketch a self portrait at the beginning of the year and one at the end so they can see how they have improved.

  • Kyndall Elks

    The best sketchbook assignment that I did was to recreate an ad for a popular soda. Students had to make up their own soda and create an ad for it that would make others want to buy this item. I gave them cans to sketch and they then created new labels and added in color, words, the price and where it was sold. They turned out really well. Some not so well but then some just didn’t try.

  • Zach Morrison

    Last year, I let the students suggest topics into a drawing for their sketchbook assignments. One of the topics pulled was “underground water pipes.” I went ahead and assigned it and got some really interesting results.

  • Katie K

    Favorite sketchbook lesson: Students photographed themselves wearing the Roylco Famous Artist Masks. They printed and pasted as an inset on journal page and designed a background integrating the respective artists life and works as inspiration.

  • Alison Szymanski

    The only sketchbook assignment I really remember from (way back) in my high school years was during a unit on figure drawing. Our homework assignment was to go home and practice drawing a figure from life. I posed my mom in the middle of the living room, holding a laundry basket with one arm, propped against her hip. Being the “type-A” artist that I am, I made my poor mother stand there for over an hour while I carefully, diligently sketched an accurate figure, along with every single little detail, every wrinkle in her clothes, every line on the basket. Having now been through art school and worked with professional, paid models, I realize that my expectations of her were rather strict (and possible slightly cruel). That one might be HER choice for worst assignment, I did great on it though! :-)

  • Laura

    My favorite sketchbook assignment was over a week, to draw your hand in a different position each day. I twisted my hand into an unusual position on day and when I finished the drawing my hand had cramped up. It was sore for hours. I learned a lot that week. My professor taught me accent lines and I could not believe the difference it made in my drawing.

  • Miss Schroeder

    In a college design class we were all given old books and a crazy list of recommend supplies and told that this would be our sketchbook for the semester and that we should be working in it whenever we had extra time in class. It was simultaneously the best and worst assignment ever. There were no official assignments, we were just told to “work on it.” I think my professor wanted it to be an altered book type thing, but she was definitely not clear about it, so mine ended up just being a random collection of mixed media collages and doodles in this old book. I still have it and will every once in a while I will get it out and do a page just for fun!

  • Leigha Pehlivan

    In college, I had to complete 30 sketchbook assignments each month. I would try to finish one assignment each day. Luckily I read through the final month’s assignments in time, because the last assignment was to use all the ink in an entire pen! I had a week left to complete the assignment, so I opened the pen and blew the ink onto the back page. I technically still completed the assignment!

  • Jennifer M

    The best sketch assignment I had was drawing a person moving around with ink. It was amazing to try and capture a figure quickly moving in a set area of space. When I was finished I couldn’t believe how much movement could be seen and the amazing flow of the drawing. I still have it to this day, framed in my home.

  • Lynne Barker

    My worst sketch book assignment was given to me as an art student. I was supposed to draw clouds from observation every day for a full month. I remember looking up at a clear blue sky many days, trying to make up something that I could not see. I don’t know what the professor was thinking.

  • Rebecca Mazzella

    The worst sketchbook assignment that I had to complete was in a college drawing class where the professor had us to illustrate a value scale exhibiting 24 different values. Twenty-four! A weird number and stressful. So do we do a 24 value scale in my class? … Not … we do 48 jk.
    The best drawing assignment I enjoy is an activity I do even now … I love what is being called zentangles … but back back in the day it was just creative patterns. Wish I coined the word “zentangle”.

  • Brittney Herzik

    My favorite sketchbook assignment was drawing 20 gesture drawings of strangers using “unconventional” drawing tools. I love to observe people and it was really cool to just stop and draw random strangers caught in the moment (even if I did get some “weird art girl” stares….

  • Laurie Reider

    I had my students research Greek Gods and their life for a Greek painting. It turned out great. They created hieroglyphs to go along with their research.

  • Stephanie Perry

    I did not enjoy using a sketchbook until just a few years ago, when I gave myself permission to collage, collect, and experiment on the pages. Somehow, I had this misconception that sketchbooks had to be drawing only and that they all had to be quality drawings—the pressure! I call them art journals with my elementary students now, emphasizing that they are not only for drawing, but for practicing, experimenting, and exploring ideas.

  • Ms. H

    Texture by poking holes and cutting sharp edges.

  • Corinne Schuster

    I teach at an inner city school with not budget. I would love to share them with my students.

  • cre8ivity101

    I remember during college we had to fill a sketchbook the size being given away with drawings of hands and feet. It was torture, but guess what? I really loved looking at the growth that happened by the end of the three months of that class. I would never do that to my h.s. art students, but I love to tell them about it. They always ask me if I still have it. I don’t. It was stolen on a camping trip with a group. Kind of a compliment, I guess.