Updated Nov, 15th 2012
Here is an example project. Not every distance needs to be measured, this is an example of what can be seen from looking about northwest to northeast in the sky. So there's A LOT of sky covered here. But it is also typical of what may be seen in a city location when looking north. The brighest stars are denoted with the largest dots, and the primary distances between them are listed.
Here's a direct link to my sketch: http://i.imgur.com/Gsclj.jpg
Looking at the skymaps.com all sky chart, one can readily make out the upside-down "W" shape of Cassiopeia to the center/upper/right area. From there, other bright stars can be measured, and from those measurements using the hand measurement techniques, the bright stars can be identifed. From there, the constellations may be identified.
Now, not every star in a constellation can be seen. For example, the star in the lower center of my drawing is Polaris, the north star, in Ursa Minor. Ursa Minor has some dim stars, but there is a 2nd magnitude star to the left at this time of night, 15 degrees away. That is Kocab, and it is one of the "bowl" stars of the Little Dipper. The other "bowl" stars are dimmer, one is 3rd magnitude, one 4th, and one with magnitude. These can be seen on the Skymaps.com chart. You can gauge approximately what your skies "limiting magnitude" is by looking at this area of sky. I can usually see 4th magnitude stars from my house, but only Polaris and Kocab from Chicago. Even so, those two stars let me know where the Little Dipper / Ursa Minor is.
So the next clear night, sketch some stars you see, and the distances between them. Bonus points if you identify the stars and constellations!!