A clever friend told me about a drawing activity I could do with the boys. The idea is to give each one a paper and marking device. One person is the leader and draws, giving instructions to the others on what to draw. No one can look at anyone else’s drawing. At the end, everyone shows their pictures to compare the results.

I tried it today for the first time. I took construction paper and crayons to the picnic table outside. It wasn’t the perfect set up because it didn’t hide the boys’ drawings from each other, but I wasn’t terribly concerned with that.

My instructions went something like this:

Draw a circle on the right side of the paper.
Now draw a smaller circle to the left of that circle.
Connect the circles with an upside-down “U”.
Draw a large triangle in the center of the page.
Put a big “X” in the middle of the triangle.
On the top left side of your paper, draw a popsicle.
On the bottom left side, draw a dollar bill.
On the bottom right side, draw a monster foot.
On the top right side, draw our flag.
On the right side of the first circle you drew, draw a big ear.

It was fun. I watched Ian’s interpretation of my instructions, and found them to be very similar to what I was thinking, except that he put his circles far apart. Isaac mostly tried to copy Ian’s picture, but gave up half way through and doodled on his own. Elijah scribbled a little, but then entertained himself by dropping crayons through the umbrella hole in the table.

After comparing pictures, I asked who wanted to be leader now. Ian volunteered. Isaac and Elijah ran away.

In classic Ian style, his drawing instructions went as follows:

At the top of the page, on the right side, draw a giant wagon.
Draw a cord connecting to the wheels, with a remote box on the other end that sends electricity to the wheels and tells them to go fast or slow.
Draw two wheels with a sideways handle. Make the handle crooked.
Draw a three-headed table in the shape of a triangle with seats on top and bottom.
Draw a crayon that is cracked and filled with air like a balloon.

Somehow I knew his instructions would include all the mechanisms for how some machine would work. To my surprise, our pictures were similar, except that I didn’t do my crayon balloon the “right way.”

We had fun, and I particularly enjoyed watching the processing of verbal instruction unfold on paper. I think that activity is a great tool to keep in our “idea box.”

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