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

Kids are welcome to participate. 

Cheer on your kids, your class, your grandkids, but please do not require them to do “one per day” and I’ll explain a bit more about that.

Many kids enjoy working on their index card art in batches or series. Some days, they get on a creative roll and just keep going, and that's fantabulous! Other days, they are busy writing stories and playing and are not in the mood for art. I encouraged my kids to do the challenge in a way that motivates them to be creative.

First, a little reference info!

If you’re looking for a framework for inspiring children to do creative work, I encourage you to research and read everything you can find about the Reggio Emilia approach.

"Reggio has influenced the ways in which school environments are interpreted, prepared and, sometimes, built; the ways in which educators “follow” the development of children through tangible efforts of documentation; the ways in which children are viewed more as capable and competent and less as needy; the ways in which educators feel and act in partnership with children and families, and the ways in which relationships with children, colleagues, families, and the community are tended to with pleasure. In short, Reggio’s belief that school is not preparation for life, but that school is life has begun to shape a different style of education within schools for young children throughout the world. This shift is often slow and gradual, and difficult to observe, as educators become more familiar with the belief systems in Reggio Emilia that support their unique work in education." North American Reggio Emilia Alliance

Children's art is theirs. Not ours.

Let kids do what they feel driven to do without micro-managing. We are observers and facilitators but not managers. Let’s not fix their art, critique, alter, or define it. They don't need to create a pleasing composition or use a trendy color palette or use analogous colors or a triad or secondary triad from the color wheel.

Tell them about the ICAD project, let them see YOU creating on your index cards, and place materials within reach, materials that are inviting and playful [bright colors are magnetic for kids].

You can put up your cards in a grid on the wall, and they can add theirs if they wish.

Art Materials for Index-Card-a-Day with Young Children

  1. Stacks overflowing with index cards. Mix-it-up with lined, unlined, gridded, neon, dividers, etc.

  2. Mugs overflowing with magic markers. Try Papermate Flair markers [fiber-nibbed markers, water soluble], Sakura Gelly Roll neon pens [metal nibbed gel pens that are neon and also look great on black], and Gelly Roll Stardust pens [metal nibbed gel pens that are sparkly].

  3. Flat boxes with sharpened colored pencils. Yes they’ll break the tips. Just show them how to sharpen them!

  4. Recycled jam jars with #2 pencils.

  5. Erasers and pencil sharpener and stapler and glue stick.

  6. Tape or double sided tape to adhere collage items to index cards.

  7. Washi tape, because it’s darling.

  8. Magazines and catalogs to cut up for collage fodder and words.

  9. Plastic stencils, french curve, ruler & protractor for scientific & geometric pursuits.

  10. Alphabet stamps, number stamps, rubber stamps & stamping ink.

  11. Kid [blunt] scissors.

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Tips for doing the ICAD Challenge with Kids & Teens:

  • Some ideas for what to say about children’s [really, anyone’s] artwork? Find something interesting and make a kind comment. “How fun that you used green for the path!” or “This reminds me of the card you did on Tuesday!” or “Those shapes are so bold!” or “What’s your favorite marker color today?” or “I noticed that you include the sun in each of your paintings!” or “What is the kitten doing?” or “I like the way you made darker lines with some of the colored pencils and lighter lines with other colors.”

  • Sometimes kids are hard on themselves {an errant line, an eraser mark… } so be extra kind.

  • 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.

  • Teach kids how to clean up. When my kids were really little I would talk them through what I was doing to stay organized and clean up. I taught them to keep the brushes and paints on the table {not walk around the house with brush in hand or paint on feet} and to put brushes in the sink when finished.

  • Help younger kids manage messier materials. When my daughters were little they would select 2-3 colors of craft acrylics and I poured a bit into old yogurt lids. This kept them from inadvertently pouring out the entire bottle. But it also helped them be more thoughtful in selecting colors rather than using every color of paint simultaneously! And yes, a lot of things wound up brown because they mixed all of the colors together. If they want to make a certain color, tell them the ingredients and let them see how it works.

  • A snack and/or music can alter the mood of the day.

  • 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, Liz!" Take a look at all of the cards on a dining table or large work surface.

Learn more about inspiring and eroding creativity.

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

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.