Wacky pictures is a really fun activity to help children write descriptive words and phrases as they create some unusual looking characters. You can also use this activity as a starter for further literacy activities.
You’ve probably played some form of game that involves writing a sentence, folding down the paper, passing it on to a friend for them to write the next bit until you have a very short, and often very funny, story. This is a similar idea but with drawing a character one section at a time. It works particularly well for coming up with some slightly more unusual looking characters like monsters, aliens, or other strange creatures.
I played this game with a group of children who were struggling with their task to write about a monster. After having great fun playing, they each had a random and interesting monster drawn out in front of them that they could describe. Before they knew it they had done some great descriptive writing.
This activity works best with four players, but is easily adapted for different numbers – see the adaptions section below.
What you need
A sheet of A4 paper for each participant to write on and fold
Pencils/pens to write and draw with
Instructions for how to play
(Optional) Handout of instructions and description notes
What to do
Play the game following the instructions below
Write short descriptions of the creatures created
(Optional) Try an extension activity
Instructions to play the game
1. Get one piece of paper and pencil per person
2. At the top of the paper draw the character’s head
3. Fold the paper over from the top to the bottom of where you have drawn (leave a bit of the bottom of your drawing showing so the next player knows where to draw!)
4. Pass the paper to the next person
5. Draw the body of the character
6. Again, fold the paper over to cover what you have drawn, leaving the bottom bit showing, and pass it on
7. Draw the legs, fold it over and pass it on
8. Draw the feet then fold over and pass along
9. Unfold the paper to reveal the completed character
Adaptations: If you have two or three players, have more than one turn each. If you have more players, split the body into more parts – for example: hair, head, chest and arms, tummy, legs, and feet.
Children can use the finished picture to write a description of the character they have created. Alternatively, they can unfold one bit at a time and write words/phrases for each part as they go.
Groups can repeat the activity until everyone has their own character to describe or they can play once and everyone in the group can write descriptions for the same character.
Extend the learning
Create a collection of characters and put them together in A Monsters Handbook, A Directory of Unusual Creatures, or similar. Write brief descriptions of each creature alongside the drawing.
Children can write a story or poem based on one or more of their characters.
Write a brief description of their favourite creature as a paragraph.
Draw and write a comic strip story or scene involving their creature(s).