Feelings Through Art “Art Whispers”

TWO HANDS ARE BETTER THAN ONE — learning how to take turns, working together and cooperating

Before the time when technology took over our lives, play dates used to be more than just gaming dates. I remember my friends coming over and playing house-house with dolls, painting, building Lego. We would take out all the toys and by the time the playdate would end, my room would look like it had been hit by a tsunami. Cleaning up was always the tough part. Mom never lets us get away without putting everything away. My best friend, Maaya and I would make that too into a game. Looking back, doing it together, even cleaning up was fun.


An art activity I thought would be fun is based on the game of Chinese Whispers. This is a game we used to often play in school. If you have not heard of it, this is how it goes…

All the participants sit in a circle. The starter whispers a word into the ear of the person sitting next to him or her. This person then adds a word (which is connected and makes sense in sequence) and further passes it to the person sitting next to and so the game goes on until it comes back to the starter. The starter then repeats aloud the entire sequence of words that have been passed around. Usually, the end result is something really funny and leaves everyone in splits.

To make this activity fun at least 2 people are needed but more the merrier (maximum 5 in a group).

Materials needed:

Make slips with numbers written on them corresponding to the number of participants

A4 or A3 size sheet of paper (depending on the number of participants, one can use a large chart paper)

set of marker pens/crayons/paints and brushes

As in any art activity, the first thing that all participants need to know is that there are no mistakes and nothing that they do as art is wrong.

FIRST: Each person picks a chit. The number they pick will determine the order in which they will draw. The person picking the chit with the number 1 on it will go first and so on.

SECOND: Keep the paper in the center. Let the markers/crayons/ art supplies be placed in a way so that participants have to ask the other members of the group for their help in getting the materials.

THIRD: Now the fun begins… “Number 1” starts and draws any shape/ line/object on the paper. Now it’s the turn of “Number 2”. “Number 2” has to add their own drawing to the drawing done by the first person. Each person continues to take turns by adding to the drawing. The question that will likely come up here is how much can one add-on – of course one can’t complete the entire painting in their turn as that would defeat the whole point of the activity. So add just enough to the painting/ artwork to get the next person thinking.

The activity ends when every person in the group has had at least one turn and all agree that there is no more than they would like to add to the artwork.

The fun part was the painting and the more difficult part is to get the kids involved in doing the activity to actually talk about what they were experiencing. Some conversation starters can be

  • Look at the painting that has been made – does it remind of anything.
  • Was it difficult to add on to the painting
  • Find something nice in the painting and appreciate the group member who added that element to the painting
  • Taking turns – was it difficult to wait for one’s turn
  • Self Control –Was there a time when someone else was drawing that you wanted to stop that person and tell them to do something different. If yes, why did you not say anything
  • Team Work –Do you feel that working alone would have been more fun and could have made a better painting

I remember doing such group art activities in school. Usually around our school’s Founders Day. Once we had the pleasure of having the famous artist Jaysri Burman visit. We worked on a large canvas with her. Groups of children came and they went. Each adding their own little piece to the canvas. The end result was a large canvas painted with vibrant colors.

Working together as a group, taking turns and developing an idea based on somebody else’s thoughts requires a lot of patience, ability to respect others, to give each person the space to express themselves and be able to cooperate to produce the best possible result.

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