TIP #32: Stop Summer Slide with the “5-for-5 Challenge”

TIP #32 Stop Summer Slide with the "5 for 5 Challenge"

“Summer Slide” (or “Summer Learning Loss”) is REAL. Kids experience this annual phenomenon to some degree in most subjects over their summer break. This much-needed vacation from school can also be an interruption that causes previously learned material to be forgotten. But the “5-for-5 Challenge” can help!

What is the “5-for-5 Challenge”?

The “5-for-5 Challenge” is a way to prevent summer slide and keep kids engaged in learning with small tasks throughout the summer. While you could apply this to any subject, I’ll focus here on Art, of course!

How does it work?

In a “5-for-5 Challenge“, students choose an art process and a subject to focus on for 5 days. They can vary the medium, or stick with just one. Then they create 5 small “projects” each day for 5 days, as explained below.

1. Choose a Process

The art process could be drawing, painting, printmaking, lettering, or something else that interests them. 

2. Choose a subject

Adding a subject to this could mean drawing faces, painting flowers, printmaking abstract designs, lettering names, etc. 

3. Choose a medium

The medium they work in (pencil, paint, etc.) can stay the same or it can vary across the 5 days. They could work in a sketchbook, on loose paper, or a combination of both.

4. Create!

Then, students create 5 mini-projects with whatever process and subject they’ve chosen, every day for 5 days. For example, a student might draw 5 faces in pencil the first day, and 5 faces with Sharpie the next. Then they could try a different medium the next day or repeat one they already used.

There’s no minimum time required to spend on this each day. It could be 15 minutes or 2 hours. The point is just to keep creating on a regular basis.

The 5 days don’t have to be consecutive days, but it does fit nicely into a week! Kids can use a simple chart or calendar to keep track of their progress. When they finish one set of 5, they can take a break or choose another set of 5 to work on.

Why “5”?

Five sounds substantial. It’s enough to seem like a challenge, but not so much to feel overwhelming. After all, summer is supposed to be fun, right?

Doing something repeatedly is how we practice, and practicing is how we improve our skills. Practicing in “5’s” will help kids see some improvement before deciding to continue on with it or try something new. Either way, they’re pursuing their interests and developing their creativity.

Creating 5 of something for 5 days is enough to feel like a stretch. But it won’t be too huge a commitment when kids are ready to move on. The self-discipline to finish what they start is an important habit to maintain over the summer months. 

Completing things in 5’s will give kids a sense of achievement while not feeling like a burden. And there will still be plenty of time left for other summer fun! 

What’s the goal?

After finishing their first “5”, kids can keep going on that same theme if they’re inspired to. Or, they can try something new with another set of 5. It can be fun (and motivating!) to offer a simple reward for each completed set of 5, but that’s optional. 

The goal of the 5-for-5 Challenge is for kids to beat summer slide by continuing to develop their creative skills during their break from school. With intentional focus, creativity can become a healthy habit that leads to a creative lifestyle. Artistic skills don’t have to be a victim of summer slide!

an inspiring quote:

“Opportunity is missed by most people because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work.”  ~ Thomas Edison

What looks like work to others doesn’t always feel like work to the one doing it. When we enjoy our work and feel successful, it becomes so much more than “work” to us. 

The key is learning to delay gratification. It takes effort upfront before you get to all the fun opportunities that lie ahead. If kids can learn this lesson early, it will benefit them their entire life!

a question worth considering:

How can you encourage your students to put in the hard work that comes before the rewards of regular creative practice?