What Can a Creative Challenge Month do for your School?

You can rally your entire school community, put on an art show, AND instill the importance of critique and reflection in one-easy-to-host event!

A creative challenge month is a voluntary school-wide project you pitch to the community. It’s an incredibly easy way to produce an art show that honors the diversity and variety of creative endeavors.

I recently hosted my school’s eighth annual challenge exhibition this week, and I’ve learned a few tricks along the way to make it a snap.  Here’s your guide:

  • Challenge your students, families, faculty and staff to be creative, every day. Demonstrate options of how to make a record of their process for the whole month. These sessions can be for just five minutes - small ideas build into bigger ones when you work on them each day. You can propose this challenge digitally, or have a kickoff assembly to build excitement.

  • At the end of the month, set a date to celebrate and share what you’ve created at an exhibition.

  • To prepare ahead of time, ask participants to sign up and note if they’ll need space larger than a shoebox, or if they’ll need tech equipment, like headphones, to share their work (I like to set the deadline for sharing projects to a week before the exhibition). If you set up an online spreadsheet, like a Google doc, you can make it convenient for others to help record participants.

  • Having this information, you’ll be able to easily print out some certificates of participation.  If you use heavy-stock paper, the back of each certificate can also double as a comment sheet!

  • Pre-label the certificates with names of your participants, and set up the appropriate number of tables. Keep a few blank certificates for last minute attendees. Scatter pens on tables for comment writing.

  • When participants arrive, invite them to find their certificate and place their work for exhibition.

  • Play some music to set the mood. Watch magic happen as people mingle, reflect, and share!

In the past, my students have experimented with having a puppy with painted paws (non-toxic, of course!) play on a canvas, recording found-sound compositions, wire sculpture assemblages, computer coded games, a star-wars themed bobblehead series, elaborate music videos, just to name a few! While the basic premise for this event is simple, the results have been profound.

Parents who might not consider themselves creative often get wrapped up in the inspiration generated from their children.  Students who feel self-conscious about sharing start absolutely beaming after reading a page filled with thoughtful comments from their peers about their work. New habits are formed, making time for being creative outside the walls of the art studio. This event tends to grow every year, so get ready!

The Creative Challenge Month can become a lasting school tradition that fosters innovation, experimentation, and collaboration… and what’s better than that?