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“Sketching” the Place Where You Live

I’ve told my students so many times to sketch a memory and then draw it. I’m a little tired of that strategy for I feel that too often kids try to make their sketches perfect pictures and then they lose the essence of the exercise, which was to sketch and then write about their sketch. However, art DOES have a place within our writing. In fact, I was inspired to go beyond sketching today. I left the confines of my apartment and headed outside my building with my pastels, which I hadn’t used since I moved here. Here’s what I created:

This is a view of our bedroom and living room windows from the courtyard of our building.

This is a reverse view of the entry walkway to our building.

Don’t you just love the carpeting that I used as a background to take the photos? Not the best matte, if you will.

I found this so enjoyable and so relaxing. It was interesting to capture the place where I live with my pastels, even if it’s not an exact image of what the place looks like. (I don’t claim to be much of an artist.)

While I was outside I started thinking, this would be an excellent exercise to do with children. However, the point would be to actually for them to do their darndest to capture the essence/the spirit of one aspect of their home in the artistic medium of their choosing. Then, they could use their drawings to help them write about the significance of the place they drew.

I’m proposing that the art work be assigned for homework so long as you make sure that kids have some kind of artistic medium at home to use. Then, there can be a sharing of the art work at school the following morning before Writing Workshop begins. Finally, during Workshop time, you (the teacher) uses your own piece of artwork and you do a write-aloud in front of your kids, on the overhead projector, about your piece of art. Then, at the end of the Workshop, everyone shares their work in progress and for homework finishes it up so that it can be “published” alongside the piece of art each student created. In the end, you can essentially turn these pieces of art and the writing into a mini-gallery (or in teacher language, a bulletin board).


art, strategies

Stacey Shubitz View All

I am a literacy consultant who has spent the past dozen years working with teachers to improve the teaching of writing in their classrooms. While I work with teachers and students in grades K-6, I'm a former fourth and fifth-grade teacher so I have a passion for working with upper elementary students.

I'm the author of Craft Moves (Stenhouse Publishers, 2016) and the co-author of Jump Into Writing (Zaner-Bloser, 2021), Welcome to Writing Workshop (Stenhouse Publishers, 2019), and Day By Day (Stenhouse, 2010).

6 thoughts on ““Sketching” the Place Where You Live Leave a comment

  1. Beautiful work, Stacey. I’m inspired. I’m grabbing my camera & heading outside as soon as I finish commenting.

    Paula — thanks for the resources. I’m going to check them out.



  2. Hi Stacey,
    We met at RCI in NYC last summer. I am the principal from Greenwich, CT who brought nine of my staff members to be trained. I read your blog about using art with writing and I wanted to suggest an author for you to read. One of my friends, Dr. Karen Ernst (DaSilva), worked with Lucy Caulkins and others to develop an Artist’s-Writer’s Workshop. It blends the TC writer’s workshop model with the use of art as a doorway into thinking and writing. It’s wonderful. Her three books, written in conjunction with several teachers from my old school in Westport, include: A Teacher’s Sketch Journal: Observations on Learning and Teaching, New Entries: Learning by Writing and Drawing and Picturing Learning: Artists & Writers in the Classroom. They are all available through Heinemann and are very easy reads. I know that you’ll love them! Keep up the exciting work! Paula


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