Small child scribbling with what looks like oil pastel crayons

Scribbles: A Drawing Game for Children of All Ages

Small child scribbling with what looks like oil pastel crayonsThis is a simple activity that requires few materials and almost no preparation. All you have to do is grab a sheet of paper and a writing utensil. Any child old enough to draw a picture can play, and it’s good for as few as two people and, with a few tweaks, as many as you want to add.

If you’re drawing on paper, your upper number is as many as can comfortably pass the drawing around. If you have a larger group, you can use a white board and markers, or a chalk board and chalk. For the sake of simplicity, I’ll give instructions for two players.


  • Paper or any other drawing surface
  • Pencil or any other writing/drawing utensil


  • Player 1(beginning as the Scribbler) draws a scribble.
  • Player 2 (beginning as the Artist) takes the paper and makes a drawing out of the scribble.
  • Players reverse roles, with Player 2 acting as the Scribbler and Player 1 acting as the Artist.
  • Repeat, with players alternating roles, until you’re out of time or players tire of the game.

The Artist may orient the scribble in any direction he or she desires. So, let’s say the Scribbler makes a scribble like this:

A scribble drawn in in on white paper
Original Scribble

The Artist might use the original orientation to create a picture like this:

The drawing made from the original scribble
Drawing made from original scribble

Or he or she might flip the scribble (upside down or sideways):

The original scribble has been turned upside down
Re-oriented Scribble (re-created for this article)

…resulting in a picture like this:

The picture drawn from the re-oriented scribble is a bird with a crest
Picture drawn from re-oriented scribble

If an older player is drawing for a younger one, the older player should start with a simple scribble. Scribbles can become more complex as players get better at the game. They’ll let you or the other players know when they want a harder challenge.

I’ve found that this game works best when the goal is to keep it going as long as possible. This makes it a collaborative game where players have to be empathetic and learn to be aware of each others’ abilities.

I’ve seen it played where the goal is to stump the other player by coming up with a scribble that can’t be made into anything, and the result is never very satisfying. Part of the pleasure of the game is seeing what the other person comes up with.

One way to preserve its collaborative nature while adding an element of competition is, if you have at least four players, to create two or more teams. Each team gets a point for each completed drawing, with  bonus points for more complex drawings. This version works best for older children.


  1. Hi Beth,

    This is such a simple activity, but valuable on so many levels. I love the interactive element and the idea of sharing ideas. It could provoke some quite challenging discussions with interesting results!

    But I particularly like that this concept can be used at any age / developmental stage with equal enjoyment and I reckon great hilarity. Many thanks for such a great idea! Sue 🙂

    1. Thank you, Sue. What a kind comment–and you homed in on the same things I love about it. It’s so simple and versatile, yet it develops creativity, abstract thinking, eye-hand coordination, and a variety of social skills.

      It’s fun for adults too! (And as you guessed, the results can be hilarious.)

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