Art Games for the Win!

We have all been there. You need a quiet and engaging activity for your kids to prevent a meltdown at a restaurant. Or quite possibly you have a sick family member that needs your presence but lacks the energy to converse. Maybe you are in a relationship that is experiencing a communication slump or your quiet child needs ideas for how to make new friends. Conversations take effort and sometimes we are not up for the task. Here are ten art games that can be used to initiate interaction, stimulate dialogue, or simply to have fun.

1. Pass it Back Scribble Drawings

Supplies: Blank paper and anything that can be used to write or draw with.

Directions: Each participant takes a blank piece of paper and quickly creates a scribble on the page. The scribbles are exchanged. Individuals must look at the scribble handed to them by their partner and look for a familiar shape, object, or image. It’s a little like finding shapes in the clouds. Once discovered, the object is to use their drawing tool to outline or highlight their findings to help their partner see what they see.

A friend suggested this game to me when my kids were small as a way to stay connected through busy times. We modified it and it became the Pass It Back Scribble Journal. I put a scribble on a page in the journal and then left it on my child’s pillow. He created a drawing using the scribble and then created a scribble on the next page. Leaving the journal on my pillow indicated it was my turn. We revisited this during the “tween” years when communication became strained.

2. Build-A-Monster

Supplies: Blank paper and anything that can be used to write or draw with.

Directions: Partners decide between them who will go first. Turns are taken drawing features and body parts until a monster is completed. Only one feature per turn. For example, a turn consists of two eyes or two arms. No other features can be added in one turn. Coming up with a name for the monster can be fun as well as creating a brief story of origin. If more structure is desired, try using a die with feelings on each side. (See pdf for free printable die cutout here.) A player can roll this at the outset of the round to determine what expression and body posture the monster will exhibit. Cards can also be created so that players take turns drawing cards to determine which feature or body part they will draw. (See pdf for free printable cards here.)

This game was created during an art therapy session with a child who shut down under the pressure of verbal “getting to know you” questions. Through the back and forth exchanges, a rhythm was developed that became the foundation for conversation. This game can be modified to Build a Princess or Build a Hero depending on the interests of your game partner. It can also be modified to accommodate a group by simply allowing each group member to add a feature to the monster and taking turns until it is completed.

3. Musical Scribble, Stop & Go

Supplies: Table, Large Paper (I buy large rolls of painters’ paper from Lowe’s for about $10 a roll), Markers, Music Source

Directions: This game is reminiscent of Musical Chairs but can be played with either partners or a group. Cover a table with paper. Wrap the edges of the paper over the table edges and tape to the underside of the table. Remove the chairs from the area. Determine who will be the DJ and who will be the Scribbler. The DJ will play a song and randomly press pause as the Scribbler moves around the table scribbling on the paper only while the music is playing. Once the DJ pauses the music, the Scribbler must freeze. This game can be modified so that the DJ can also shout out directions like “hop on one foot” or “backwards” to further challenge the Scribbler. The round ends when the song is over. The DJ and the Scribbler switch places after each round.

4. Spaceship Wars

Supplies: Blank paper and pencils.

Directions: Place paper long ways between partners who are facing one another. Each person creates a Base by drawing a line about an inch and a half long in the center just above the edge of the paper facing him or her. Next two ships are drawn to the left of this line. The ships are small circles with two lines on each side of it sort of resembling Darth Vader’s Tie Fighter. The ships to the left of the base line are the ships in reserve. One ship is drawn just above the baseline and this is the ship in play. Ships are moved by holding the pencil in the upright position with the lead on one of the ships drawn on the paper and a finger on the eraser. The other hand is used to gently flick the pencil. The mark left on the paper determines how far the ship traveled. The ship is redrawn at the end of the mark and the ship where you began is crossed out. If the end of your pencil line comes into contact with an opponent’s ship, they are effectively “blown up. ” The opponent must start over with a new ship at their base line as in the beginning. The game is won when your ship successfully moves all the way to your opponent’s base line or when your opponent loses all three ships.

My husband taught me this game from his childhood years ago and we played this with our sons while waiting at restaurants or in places where we understood our kids needed a distraction.

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Melissa Ayotte

Melissa Ayotte


  1. Dannielle Morrison on October 22, 2018 at 5:15 pm

    i love this

  2. Sudais ibn-parker on December 25, 2018 at 2:12 pm

    love this a lot, it’s inspiring

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