Index-Card-a-Day Challenge: Kid Version!

Index cards are absolutely perfect art materials for children. And the annual index-card-a-day challenge is kid-friendly. Pop over and skim through the FAQ to get an idea of what ICAD is all about. Since the challenge began in 2011, kids have created 1000s of index cards! My daughters have participated in their own way each year. 

Kids are welcome to participate. 

It is the act of creating {creative thinking, creative work} that matters. So cheer on your kids, your class, your grandkids, but please relax the requirement to finish one card per day. I bet you will find that kids prefer to work on their index card art in batches or series. They get on a creative roll and just keep going. Other days, they are busy making stuff with LEGOs and don't want to stop to do art. 

The best thing that you can do? Be a role model. Let the kids see you in the act of creating:) Let them see you smile as you work, happy with your experiments and happy with your cards. Art is joy!

The most important advice for you is that children's art is their own art. Let kids do what they want to do without trying to micro-manage.

Tell them about the project, let them see you doing art, make a variety of materials available to them, and see what happens.

Art materials for Index-Card-a-Day

  1. Stacks of index cards. Mix-it-up with lined, unlined, gridded, neon, dividers, etc. 
  2. Cups overflowing with markers. 
  3. Boxes of sharpened colored pencils. 
  4. Mugs of pencils. 
  5. Erasers. 
  6. Pencil sharpener. 
  7. Stapler. 
  8. Glue stick. 
  9. Tape. Washi tape. 
  10. Magazines. 
  11. Stencils, ruler, protractor. 
  12. Rubber stamps, stamping ink, alphabet stamps. 
  13. Kid scissors. 
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Tips for doing the ICAD Challenge with Kids & Teens:

  • Let kids have the freedom to do what they want on their cards. If they want to get messy, protect your table and the floor around the work space and provide old t-shirts. My kids started painting with craft acrylics when they were about two. 
  • Remove the requirement that kids create one card each day. Kids like to do the challenge in batches, like a bunch today, a bunch in a few days, etc. That's cool!!!
  • Focus on the act of creating - the PROCESS - the experience - not the beauty of the FINISHED PRODUCT. 
  • Sometimes kids are hard on themselves {an errant line, an eraser mark, oh my!} so be gentle.
  • A snack and/or music can alter the mood of the day. Jelly beans go quite well with index card art. 
  • If the challenge coincides with a vacation or summer break for your family, bring along materials to draw/doodle in hotel rooms, at the beach, on a plane, etc. Many of our cards are created "on the road" each summer.
  • If the child doesn't have 61 cards at the end of July, celebrate the work no matter what! "Look at all of these cool airplane drawings! What a wide variety of colors + shapes, Jaynee!" Take a look at all of the cards on a dining table or large work surface.

Here's how my kids do the ICAD challenge.

  • A big-picture goal of creating 61 cards over the course of June & July has worked for my own kids, who have participated since the challenge began! They are now 14 and 16 and each year there's a different "twist" on their work. 
  • DD16 works on lined or gridded index cards and usually does 1-2 cards every few days. Like last year, she plans to draw doodles, patterns or riddles.
  • DD14 plans to do a third series of hand-drawn girls on half-sized index cards. Last year, she did 61 x 2 = 122 half cards and plans to do the same this year! She likes to work on a bunch each day, often finishing before the end of the challenge because she gets immersed in her series. One card leads to another.
  • My daughters have lots of markers and colored pencils and it just sort of happens - we'll be drawing or laughing about our cards or comparing notes on what number we are at. 
  • I used to post all of my kids' cards to the blog, but it's difficult to keep up with photographing and posting them, so I have let that go; I post a few of their cards from time to time.

Learn more about inspiring {and eroding} creativity.

Project-Based Homeschooling. Wildly informative array of resources to inspire creative & independent thinking.

Marvin Vartel's Ways Not to Kill Classroom Creativity highlights the role of the teacher in building or eroding creativity, including showing examples instead of defining problems. He notes that "image flooding" or showing too many examples can be intimidating and suggestive, creating slicker work but weaker creative thinking skills and unique ideas.

Leslie Owen Wilson describes 7 ways that we impact creativity in On Killing Creativity in Children, including surveillance, evaluation, rewards, competition, control, restricting choice and pressured expectations.