Push Your Students with an Art Room Challenge

There are times when planning lessons that I come up with an idea that would be a-m-a-z-i-n-g but simply isn’t doable with 600 students. Sometimes the lesson would require us using the computer lab for too long: 3 class periods a day, everyday, for 3 weeks= frustrated coworkers. Sometimes the lesson would require too much time: 300+ clay pieces requiring the proper moisture for more than two weeks= yikes. Sometimes the lesson uses things I just can’t afford on my budget: canvas boards for all students= no money for anything else.

That is where an ART ROOM CHALLENGE comes in. A challenge is simply that — a task the students can choose to complete that will challenge what they know and their ability to create. Sometimes the challenge is as easy as adding a “bonus component” to a current assignment. Sometimes it requires the creation of a “bonus” project that must be done on the students’ own time. Check out examples of both from my classroom below.

1. Lesson Extension Art Room Challenge

When studying gesture drawing earlier this year, I started thinking about Marcel Duchamp’s Nude Descending a Staircase.  That piece led me to Eadweard Muybridge’s action photography which then led me to some current multiple exposure action photos that were awesome. I would have loved to have my students create multiple exposure action photos, but in 6th grade most of my students don’t have a lot of computer editing knowledge and we just didn’t have the time to do the project justice. Enter the ART ROOM CHALLENGE.
Challenge Image 1
I taught the gesture lesson by introducing students to Marcel Duchamp’s image and having them compare it with multiple action photography. We discussed the ways they were similar and different, how they both capture a person in action and how gesture drawing is capturing a person in action too. We went on to create some really fun action photography inspired gesture drawings (see example in the photo collage above).

While I was introducing the students to the lesson, I shared that at the end of the grade sheet was an Art Room Challenge. The challenge was that students would have to create their own version of action photography on their own time. We talked about it for a minute before getting to work on our classroom project. Those students who love technology and wanted to challenge themselves worked on the challenge outside of class. You can check out the gesture drawing assignment example here.

2. Bonus Project Art Room Challenge

About once a quarter, maybe more, I put together a bonus project for my students to complete. There are different “bonuses” for completing the task. It can be extra credit points, it can be that they are registered to “win” a stash of new art supplies or it can be a competition to see who creates the coolest project. Some of my past challenges have included creating pattern filled pumpkins,

Challenge Image 2

stamping paper at home with different types of stamps (see the take home paper here) and redesigning a snowflake coloring sheet.

The Art Room Challenges are always optional, but it is surprising how many students love doing them.

What are some ways you’ve extended lessons for students in your classroom?

Do you ever assign bonus projects? Do you have any great examples to share? 


Jennifer Carlisle

Jen is a middle school art teacher from Norfolk, NE who loves exploring and teaching art through traditional and digital art mediums.


  • robinpcharlton

    I agree with you, conducting these kind of challenges can help students to wake up their talent and improve their creative skills. For writing related queries it is good to check custom essay writing service, you can get better help.

  • Vicky Siegel

    Love this idea!!! On a related Artsonia note…one school has me help each class decorate a canvas to be auctioned off. The school gets the money. How do you suggest I could put the picture on Artsonia for anyone to purchase items with their class canvas picture on it? That way the art room could earn money, too- and only one family can buy the canvas. Thanks.

    • colleen

      I never did it for a whole class but it should work the same. When i would have students create partner or small group work i would simply create a duplicate image of the artwork and upload the image to each student. I couldnt figure out a way to upload 1 image to multiply students so thats how i did it. I have iphoto so under one of the tabs was duplicate and you can create as many duplicates as you need. Hope that helps

  • It is great and challenging idea for students. Through this, they will enjoy their studying and will love to go to school more.

  • Lindsay Jones

    I think that this idea is a wonderful way to challenge students and really get them thinking outside of the box.

  • Chloe Young

    these kinds of challenges create creativity…I love the idea

  • ClaraLane

    Wow it’s a great idea to check the ability of the students by their own which nobody knows and encouragement to do something new by themselves under the direction of the expert. I also wants to share the useful article on things to check before handing over a college assignment or essay with students – http://www.qualityassignment.co.uk/5-things-to-check-before-handing-over-a-college-assignment/ So they can avoid the mistakes and get a high grades in their final exams.

  • goldsmith54634

    I like this challenge for the students and i hope they also ready to take the challenge also. I know they have ability to do more well in the design room. It give us more brilliant educators in here.