The Face Game-let’s get weird!

Are you ready for the simplest, goofiest, most dynamic activity ever? I now proudly present “The Face Game.”

“Every child is born an artist.  The hard part is remaining an artist as we grow up.” -Pablo Picasso

Ahmber says, "Hey, thexy." Drawn by Celeste, Ben and Robbie

Ahmber says, “Hey, thexy.” Drawn by Celeste, Ben and Robbie

As children, we were all little Picassos.  As toddlers we would awkwardly wield jumbo crayons or chewed-up washable markers and express ourselves through drawings, even if our creations weren’t exactly “photorealistic.”  But at some point in our life, we became perfectionists, refusing to engage in activities we couldn’t master immediately.  Once we decide “I am not an artist,” we stop drawing.  We stop dancing, stop singing, or trying new sports.

The face game after two passes.

The face game after two passes.

I must admit, I have definitely been guilty of the “If I’m not immediately good at it, I don’t want to try” attitude.  This fear of failure and imperfection has kept me from taking risks that might have paid off in the end.  I could have mastered an instrument, gotten good at a sport, or enjoyed riding a bike (instead of avoiding it due to my fear of falling).  While I always loved art, animals, and cooking, who knows what I could have achieved if I hadn’t been so afraid to fail?

Mr. Floatabout says, "I can see you, my sweet." Drawn by Celeste, Ben and Robbie

Mr. Floatabout says, “I can see you, my sweet.” Drawn by Celeste, Ben and Robbie

This type of attitude limits human beings in so many ways–both personally and professionally, and it is one of the worst behaviors we can model for younger generations.  As I have grown up I have gotten much better at this, but I still have room to grow.

photo 3

We can learn a lot from children.  Once we start taking ourselves less seriously, we can start to appreciate things more and realize how fun and enriching “failure” can be.  Even if our final outcome isn’t total perfection, can’t we learn and have fun in the process?

Now enough with that “I’m not an artist” attitude. When was the last time you sat down to doodle for fun?   Well, grab some paper, a pencil, and some friends, and let’s play THE FACE GAME!  It’s a fun, goofy activity for all ages.

Here are a few reasons why I LOVE the face game and why it’s my go-to activity in many situations.

  • It is not competitive.  In fact, it’s collaborative (a great skill for all to practice).
  • It has absolutely nothing to do with screens or electronic devices.
  • Anyone can play it, no matter how young or old (ok, they have to be able to physically hold a crayon or pencil). I have literally played this with people as young as three and as old as eighty-five.
  • It brings the creative, goofy and bizarre side out of people.
  • It gets people drawing–sometimes for the first time in years.
  • It can be a great vocabulary builder (in any language).
  • It can be made dirty, if you want.  Not that anyone out there has a dirty mind…
  • Everyone ends up smiling and laughing by the end.
  •  It is an amusing yet calming activity that can last one round (about 3-8 minutes) or several rounds.

Here’s how the face game works:

Objective: Create a collaborative series of faces with friends.

Materials: Paper and a writing utensil for each person

Rules: Have fun! Use your imagination. Be open minded about how the faces turn out.

Number of players: Best for groups of two to six, but it can be done with more people (and you can even do it by yourself, if you want! Even without other players, it’s still fun).

Age: All ages, best for ages 3+

How to play:

  1. Each person gets a writing utensil and a piece of paper (you can cut or tear a sheet of paper in half or in quarters).
  2. One of the “artists” announces a part of the face for everyone to draw, let’s say, the eyes.
  3. Everyone draws their interpretation of “eyes.” One eye, three eyes, cat eyes, alien eyes, anything. This is your time to be as simple or detailed as you want.
  4. Once finished with the eyes, everyone passes their paper to the person to the left.
  5. Everyone now draws the nose, then passes to the left.
  6. Players continue drawing and passing, one part at a time. Little by little, the faces develop into quite intriguing characters, some cute, some grotesque. Don’t be surprise if you laugh or gasp in horror at the hideous creatures that you and your demented friends have created. In my opinion, the more bizarre and frightening the faces become, the more amusing they are!
  7. Once the face is mostly complete, each person makes “finishing touches” on the final paper he or she receives.  This is the time to add anything extra to the face such as a neck, body, clothes, background, etc.
  8.  Finally, give your person a name and create a thought bubble or quote to allow it to express itself.  The quote tends to be the most difficult part, but remember, don’t take it too seriously.  When finished, pass to the left.
  9. Finally, each person introduces the one-of-a-kind character the group to the amusement of the other players.
  10. Now everyone flips the drawings over or gets some more paper to continue with another round!
Step nine: Name and quote. It's easy to get stuck on the quote. Don't think too hard!

Step nine: Name and quote. It’s easy to get stuck on the quote. Don’t think too hard!

You can divide the parts of the face however you like, but these are the categories I usually use:

  • Eyes
  • Nose
  • Mouth
  • Face shape
  • Ears (plus optional earrings)
  • Hair
  • Eyebrows and facial hair
  • Finishing touches,
  • Name, and thought bubble or quote.

Here’s an example of how the faces develop.  It’s crazy to see how much they can change from one step to another!

Round one: Eyes.

Round one: Eyes.

Round two: Nose

Round two: Nose

Round three: Mouth

Round three: Mouth

Round four: Face Shape

Round four: Face Shape

Round five: Ears (I sort of drew hair on one... oops!)

Round five: Ears (I sort of drew hair on one… oops!)

Round six: Hair. Steps five and six can really change the personality of the face!

Round six: Hair. Steps five and six can really change the personality of the face!

Step seven: Eyebrows and optional facial hair

Step seven: Eyebrows and optional facial hair

Step eight: "Finishing touches." Neck, body, etc.

Step eight: “Finishing touches.” Neck, body, etc.

Step nine: Name and quote. It's easy to get stuck on the quote. Don't think too hard!

Step nine: Name and quote. It’s easy to get stuck on the quote. Don’t think too hard!

Some more thoughts and variations:

  • Try drawing the parts of the face in a different order.  Why not start with the ears, nose, or face shape?
  • It’s fun if people have different colored pens/markers/crayons because you can look back and know who did what part of each face.
  • Make this into “the body game” and do the same thing, but with feet, legs, torso, arms, head, and face.

Ready for more fun? Save the drawings to use as a jumping off point for another creative activity like these:

  • Have a child look at a drawing and ask him or her to describe it in detail.  Encourage the use of vivid adjectives and nouns to increase vocabulary.  This is a great foreign-language activity as well.
  • Use one or more drawings as inspiration for an imaginative short story.  What’s the back story on these creatures? Are the drawings friends? Siblings? A couple? What are their personalities like? How did they meet? Often with just a few drawings one can make up some pretty fun and amusing stories, which can be short or long.
  • In pairs, have one person look at a drawing and describe it to another person who can not see the original.  Person #2 draws another picture based on the description from person #1. In the end, laugh about how funny the faces look.  This can help kids to focus on listening intently and on being thorough.

The possibilities are endless! This simple, awesome “game” has been my go-to activity when I need something fun and easily adaptable for different situations.  The hundreds of characters created over the years have brought me many laughs, and no two faces have ever been alike.  I hope you will give this activity a try. 🙂

Remember to keep taking risks and to stop taking yourself so seriously! Oh, and embrace your weird side!

Jason Mitchell says, "I want to go to there!" Drawn by Celeste, Ben and Robbie

Jason Mitchell says, “I want to go to there!” Drawn by Celeste, Ben and Robbie

Ahmber says, "Hey, thexy." Drawn by Celeste, Ben and Robbie

Ahmber says, “Hey, thexy.” Drawn by Celeste, Ben and Robbie

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