Art-Making Activity: Sketch and Surprise!

It is said that “a picture is worth a thousand words.” One look at a picture can activate the imagination and encourage a story! In this activity, you will create a drawing of people and things in an environment. But there is a twist! You will work with a partner who will tell you how many of each item to include in your drawing. 


Clementine Hunter (American, 1886–1988), Harvesting Gourds near the African House and Wash Day Near Ghana House, Melrose Plantation, 1959, Oil on board, 73 x 66 ½ inches, New Orleans, Museum of Art, Museum Purchase, C. Heiderich Art Purchase Fund, © Cane River Art Corporation, 2018.8


  • Drawing paper
  • Pencils
  • Crayons/Colored Pencils (optional)

You will need a partner for this activity.


1. The artist will need paper and pencil.

The partner will have a list* of specific things to be drawn.

*Suggested List:

  • ONE house
  • TWO clouds
  • THREE people
  • FOUR trees
  • FIVE flowers

2. The partner will say a list of things to the artist to draw while giving a reasonable amount of time for the artist to sketch each of the items. 

3. Once the drawing is complete, don’t show your work! Switch roles. Repeat Steps 1 & 2.

4. View the finished sketches. Take turns telling the “story” of each scene. Surprise! Compare how the items appear in space/position.

5. Color your drawings.


  • Adapt the list of things to draw to other things like, animals, vehicles, fruits, vegetables, etc.
  • Simplify the number and type of items based on the age of the artist.
  • Apply roles of “author” and “illustratrator” to this activity. Write text for the story on the reverse side.
  • For younger artists, in an effort to reinforce counting skills, instruct students to place their finger on drawn items to help them identify their images, as they count out loud.
  • Roll a die to see how many of each item to draw!