Creative Confidence – Create an Art Challenge Area


Having creative confidence is trusting and valuing each and every one of your ideas and taking creative risks.

In the Art Studio this is goal #1 – to instill creative confidence in every visitor that walks through the door – no matter what the project is, what medium we are exploring, or what collaborative project we are constructing.

Each month there is a new idea posted about how to instill creative confidence in children at home and in the classroom posted by myself and other museum educators.

Idea 5 – Create an Art Challenge Area

Children need physical, social, moral and intellectual risks and challenges according to writer Margaret Edgington .

Creating an Art Challenge Area will promote plenty of intellectual risk taking by inviting your child to try out new ideas, solve problems, and be resourceful, inventive and creative.

A few things to keep in mind when setting up your challenge area and the format of the challenges:

  • Make sure the challenges are FUN! This will ensure that your children stay interested and motivated  with each of the challenges. 
  • Use different materials for each challenge: cheerios, tooth picks, old magazines, yarn, etc. – providing a variety of materials can create very different art challenges.
  • Vary the goals of the challenges – make some of them more open ended (“What can you make with…”); and have some of them offer a more specific (but still open to creativity) goal (“Create something that can hold 5 pencils and 3 bouncy balls”).
  • Make sure your child has plenty of time to complete the challenge – don’t put a time limit on it unless it is incorporated into the challenge itself.
  • Think about function – what would be useful to your child? A pencil holder, a book carrier, a key chain? Have the goal be to create one of these things out of something usual or unusual! At the end your child will have something that they can actually use.
  • You want your child to be successful, but challenged at the same time – remember this! The noted University of Chicago psychologist Mihalyi Csikszentmihalyi  believes that this relationship challenges and motivates children by enabling them to see that if they push themselves a bit beyond what they believe themselves capable of and persevere in the face of those achievement demands, they will be successful.

A few sample challenge ideas:

  • Draw or paint something you see every day on your way to school.
  • Cover an entire sheet of paper with old magazine pictures – they must all be shades of yellow.
  • Make something you can wear.
  • Make a bed for an animal you might see outside your window.
  • Create a drawing of all different types of lines – there should be no white left on your paper by the end!
  • Design a new type of shoe for babies to wear using everything in a provided box/bag.

Remember: have fun, take risks, try out new ideas, solve problems, and be resourceful, inventive and creative.

Teaching Expertise

Some great sites with more challenges:


The Artful Parent

The Art of Education

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