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5 Art Games for Kids to Inspire Creativity with Unusual Play

by | Aug 24, 2023 | Creativity

If you’ve ever played Pictionary with your family, you can probably see how, for kids, art games inspire a lot of creativity. And that’s great, because it turns out creativity is one of the most important skill areas for kids to develop as they grow up.

Want to know more and get some great games to play with your family? Begin is here to help.

The Short Cut

  • Creativity is one of the 5 C’s at the heart of the Begin Approach to helping kids thrive in school and life
  • Cultivating creativity helps kids solve problems, come up with new ideas, and deal with change
  • Art games help kids develop creativity by encouraging them to think about problems in new ways

How Art Games Reinforce Creativity

Most kids are naturally creative, especially when they’re young (Have your kids ever tried to brush the dog with a toothbrush? Trust us, it happens!). Younger kids tend to be great at divergent thinking, generating lots of ideas without worrying too much about how well they’ll work. 

But as they get older, a combination of brain development and schooling encourages kids to start seeking and memorizing “right answers.” This may improve the state of your family’s toothbrushes, but there’s also something important that gets lost. The child who once drew a wildly creative cat with rainbow colors, fangs, wings, and a spiked tail suddenly starts drawing cats that look like everybody else’s.

That isn’t all bad—it’s helpful for communicating! But creativity is one of the most sought-after skills by employers, in part because it helps people solve new problems. It also helps people adapt to change, and kids today are facing unprecedented levels of that.

The best art games help by encouraging creativity. Through presenting fun drawing challenges and other interesting art projects, they nudge players to think outside the box and come up with novel solutions.

Curious what that looks like in practice? We’ve got 5 unusual art and drawing games you can try at home. If you’re looking for new art games or cool things for kids to draw, you’re in the right place.

5 Unusual Kids’ Art and Drawing Games

1. Reverse Simon Says

Teacher and kids playing Simon Says art game in classroom

What You Need

  • Paper
  • Crayons, pens, or pencils

What to Do

  1. Give everyone paper and something to draw with.
  2. Explain the rules of Simon Says: You will say “Simon says…” and then tell the players what to draw (“Simon Says, ‘Draw a cat.’”)
  3. In this version, players should also draw something you didn’t say—it can be anything!
  4. After each round, have the players show you their drawings (and explain them to you if necessary). The goal is to get you to laugh and say, “Hey! I didn’t say…” and then whatever the player drew (“Hey! I didn’t say, ‘Draw a cat wearing pajamas!’”)

This rework of classic Simon Says encourages kids to think about what creative things they can do within the scope of the rules. Plus it can get pretty funny!

Play Tips

  • This game can be a little challenging for younger kids because it also works their executive functioning skills (a key part of developing Critical Thinking, another of the 5 C’s). If they’re struggling, go ahead and play regular Simon Says instead!

2. The Dot Game

Kids playing the Dot Game at table

What You Need

  • Paper
  • Crayons, pens, or pencils

What to Do

  1. Before starting the game, cut each full sheet of paper into four smaller ones, then draw five dots on each 
  2. Give each player one sheet of the dotted paper and something to draw with
  3. Have the players draw a person around the dots, with one dot each located inside the person’s head, hands, and feet

This game can be as easy or as hard as you want it to be. If you put one dot at the top of the paper for the head and two a little lower for the hands, then two at the bottom for the feet, kids can draw a standard person on the dots. But if you start grouping dots together (say one dot at the top, two at the bottom, and two on the left side of the paper), they’ll have to get creative to figure out how to draw a person!

3. Draw That Word

Adult drawing a word for kids

What You Need

  • Paper
  • Crayons, pens, or pencils

What to Do

  1. Before starting the game, set aside some pieces of paper and write words on them that your kids are able to draw
  2. Pick one player to go first and have them select a piece of paper with a word on it (help them read it if necessary)
  3. Have the player draw the word while the other players try to guess what it is
  4. Pick a new player to draw for the next round, and continue taking turns for the rest of the game

This Pictionary-like game encourages creativity with the right prompts. “Pizza,” for example, is relatively straightforward to draw. But “pizza party” forces the kids to figure out how to get across the concept of “party.” You can make this as easy or as hard as you want it to be depending on the prompts you choose.

4. What Did I Just Draw?

Two girls telling a boy what to draw while playing an art game

What You Need

  • Paper
  • Crayons, pens, or pencils

What to Do

  1. Before starting the game, set aside some pieces of paper and write down words on them that your kids are able to draw
  2. Pick one player to draw first
  3. The rest of the kids playing should pick a piece of paper with a word on it and try to coach the player whose turn it is into drawing that word (“OK…draw a circle. Now another circle on top. Now put two triangles on top of that.”)
  4. When the coaching players think the drawing is close to guessable, have the drawing player try to guess what they’ve drawn
  5. Pick a new player to draw for the next round, and continue taking turns for the rest of the game

This game switches the creativity from the drawer to the coaches, who must figure out how to get the person drawing to draw something. It can be pretty challenging, so if you’re worried about managing feelings or you have younger kids, volunteer to be the drawer yourself and let the kids all be coaches. And if you really want a challenge, have the player drawing close their eyes!

5. I Can Draw, and You Can, Too!

Toddler mimicking older child's drawing while playing art games

What You Need

  • Paper
  • Crayons, pens, or pencils

What to Do

  1. Give each player a piece of paper and something to draw with
  2. Pick one child to go first and have them come up with something for all the players to draw by saying, “I can draw …, and you can too!”
  3. Have all the players draw the prompt and share their drawings afterward
  4. Have the players take turns choosing the prompt for the rest of the game

Inspired by the playground game P-I-G (with a little less competition), this game opens up creative activity by challenging kids to draw something they might not know how to draw right away. Encourage the kids to celebrate each other’s work—this is a good game for working on Character (another of the 5 C’s) in addition to creativity!

More Art Games from Begin

Images showing kids enjoying the five Begin brands: Little Passports, HOMER, Learn with Sesame, codeSpark, and KidPass Tutors

At Begin, we believe deeply in the importance of encouraging creativity in kids, and we include lots of opportunities for art in our award-winning products. Whether it’s a digital drawing game in HOMER, a globally inspired art kit from Little Passports, or even the creativity of building video game levels in codeSpark, we make it easy for you to bring more art into your child’s life!

Author

  • Dr. Jody LeVos

    As our Chief Learning Officer, Jody leads a highly knowledgeable team of early learning experts at Begin. She has a Ph.D. in Developmental Science, focused on children’s mathematical and cognitive development.

Dr. Jody LeVos
As our Chief Learning Officer, Jody leads a highly knowledgeable team of early learning experts at Begin. She has a Ph.D. in Developmental Science, focused on children’s mathematical and cognitive development.