Yearbook Design: In Class Yearbook Inspiration Boards

Students can find inspiration almost anywhere.
Photo credit: Flickr CC user Bellafaye Garden


Sometimes it’s important to step back from the daily grind of yearbook production and take an afternoon to recharge creative juices. This is especially true when it comes to yearbook design, where even if you have a great template, you still need to figure out which events and trends to highlight, story ideas, layouts and more.

One way students can find layout inspiration or spark yearbook design and story ideas is to create their own inspiration board, highlighting things they would like to incorporate into the memory book.

Inspiration boards, or idea boards, are exactly what their name implies: a visual collage of images to help inspire you as you create your own pieces of art–in this case, the school yearbook. Many professionals use inspiration boards to jump start their own creativity, and now you can apply this same brainstorming tool to your classroom.

Make an afternoon of it and see where your student’s brains go when set free.

Here’s what you need to do in order to make this exercise not only a success among the students, but a productive and worthwhile use of everyone’s time.

  • Before you begin, ask students to donate old magazines, wallpaper samples, catalogs, and anything else they won’t mind never seeing again. You can also go out and buy an assortment of materials–from colorful construction paper to pipe cleaners–to add to the inspiration material pile. Make sure you have enough scissors and glue to go around as well.
  • Give every student a blank piece of construction board or a mini bulletin board, markers, scissors, and a glue stick.
  • Once everyone has everything, explain the assignment to them. They have X amount of time (usually, 3o-40 minutes depending on how long your class period is) to pour over the materials in front of them and make a collage with images, textures, or words that inspire them or that they think would be cool concepts to work into your own yearbook’s design.
  • Once the clock has started ticking, make sure to make the exercise fun. Take student song requests and play music as they look through the different samples and encourage them to talk amongst each other and bounce off ideas. However, stress that if something really stands out to them–no matter how crazy the image might seem–they shouldn’t let others talk them out of including it on the board. Boards don’t have to be well-thought out masterpieces; they are literally visual brainstorming sessions where anything goes.
  • Make sure you’ve given yourself a good 15-20 minutes at the end of class, so each student has a minute or two to share their inspiration board with the rest of the class. Ask them about specific images on the board and which images or conceptional ideas they would love to implement in the yearbook. Where did the inspiration board take their mind? Did it help them think outside the box or come up with ideas they would never have thought of otherwise? What are their goals for the yearbook?
  • Once everyone has presented their boards, have them staple or tack it up on a designated wall of the classroom so they can be inspired every day when they walk into class.

Do you find inspiration boards useful? How do you think this exercise can help benefit your yearbook staff? I would love to hear your thoughts about inspiration boards in the box below.