Last week, I went into the copy room and took a big pile of paper from the box where people put the copies that didn't come out right. I also got a few magazines, maps, old music books, and a variety of colored paper. I cut everything down to A5 size, and the children were able to "shop" for sketchbook papers. They chose, and I stapled.
Some were very slow and deliberate about their choices - some shiny paper, two pieces of music, pictures of food - they paid attention to every piece that was going in. Others just grabbed a big pile and asked me to staple. Either way, we began using them this morning and the children seem happy with the results. Many of the photocopies I found do lend themselves to the children "coloring in", but because of our sketchbook practice so far this year, they seem to be branching away from that as well. I think it is also interesting to see how they interact with the text in their sketchbooks.
I'm glad we used recycled materials to make the books, and I'm sure we will repeat this again next school year. They have a little more individuality than the commercially made sketchbooks we were using, which is important when the children use them so often, and when they are such a personal item.