Why Your Elementary School Yearbook Needs Student Art (and How & Where to Include It)

Student art is amazing. It can be charming, hilarious, beautiful … or it can be all three at once. It can also be the perfect addition to your elementary school yearbook.

Year after year, we see hundreds of yearbook advisors include their entire elementary school in the yearbook creation process by asking them to design covers, illustrate school mascots, and draw self-portraits.

In this blog post, we’ll cover why your elementary school yearbook needs student art, where you can include it, and how you can collect it.

Why Your Yearbook Needs Student Art

You know what? The reason is pretty simple: Students love it.

At the elementary school level, students are totally pumped about the prospect of having their artwork included in the yearbook. And that excitement infects the school, the community, and the yearbook. Simply put, putting student artwork in the yearbook makes the yearbook more exciting.

If that weren’t enough, there are a bunch of other benefits to putting student art in the yearbook, like:

  • Your yearbook theme is instantly about your school.
  • Students get to express themselves while contributing to the yearbook.
  • You’re celebrating your students’ creativity throughout the year.
  • Student art contributions generate a bunch of interest in the yearbook.

And then, there’s the whole you-can-reduce-your-yearbook-advisor-stress thing, because you’ll automatically be including everyone in the book and in the book creation process. Talk about a win, right?

How to Collect Art From Elementary School Students

OK, so we convinced you that adding student art to your yearbook is a good idea. Your next step is actually collecting that artwork from students and adding it to your book.

As we see it, you have two choices:

  • Run a contest, and be selective with what you include.
  • Ask for help, and use everything you get (subject to appropriateness, of course).

Either choice is great, but reflect on whether you have an interest in creating a specific level of control over the look and feel of the book or if you have a bigger interest in building a big-time inclusive yearbook.

Once you decide, you can collect artwork using flyers, add items to school newsletters, and ask teachers to run an in-class art project. If your school has an art teacher, ask her or him to dedicate a class period or two to the yearbook.

In our experience, the artwork will pour in regardless of how you ask for it. And that brings us to our final point on this part of the post: Be specific in what you’re asking for.

Outline what you need from your students (Is it a drawing of the school building? School mascot? A student’s self-portrait?), what materials they can use to create the artwork (usually crayon), and how you need them to be delivered (white, unlined, 8.5’’ x 11’’ paper). Also, tell them how you plan to use the artwork.

That level of clarity will help students give you what you need and help you set expectations around where the artwork will—and won’t—appear.

Where to Include Student Art in Your Yearbook

The final piece to think through here is where you’re actually going to include all the great stuff you get in your yearbook. Here are four places to add that artwork:

  • Your cover. Probably the most popular place to use start, the cover is also the first place to start. Adding student art here makes total sense since it gives you an opportunity to turn the focus of the book onto the students from the jump start. (Pro tip: Don’t just do the front cover; do the back cover, too.)
  • The title page. We’ve seen schools add artwork to their yearbook title pages for the very same reason they add artwork to their yearbook covers: It can help set the tone for what you’re trying to accomplish with your yearbook.
  • Class portrait pages. Everyone looks at portrait pages, but let’s be honest: They’re not always that interesting. Student artwork changes that in a heartbeat. By adding artwork, you can show off more than a students’ smiling faces: you can show off their creativity and their personalities, too.
  • Section breaks. If you know from the jump that you’re going to use artwork in your yearbook, you can create plenty of extra space for it by using section breaks (in other words, a page that separates one section from the other). These pages are a great spot to add a dose of personality.

Of course, we wouldn’t blame you if you were like, “Well, I just want to include it everywhere.” If that’s the case, awesome; go for it. We’re totally pumped for you to do just that.

By now, you know we’re on record with the belief that putting student artwork in your elementary school yearbook is a great idea. It’s easy to do, and you’ll save yourself a bunch of stress. But the big reason is this: Your students will love it.