Amanda Koonlaba | August 2017

Create-a-Creature Icebreaker

This is a fun and engaging way to start the school year. It is not just a game, though. This activity is an icebreaker, drawing prompt, writing prompt, brain break, and informal assessment all rolled into one exciting lesson package.

Here’s What to Do

1. Give each student piece of white drawing paper. Tell them they are going to be drawing an imaginary creature. Have them draw eyes on their paper and nothing else. These eyes can be drawn to look realistic, cartoonish, scary, closed, or any other number of ways. They can even draw one eye, a pair, or more.

2. Play music and have the students walk around the room until the music stops. Make sure they leave their paper and pencils on the tables. As they walk around the room while the music is playing, they should introduce themselves to at least one new classmate and share something positive about themselves.

3. When the music stops, they will sit down at the closest paper and pencil that is not their own. Have them add to the work that was already started by drawing a nose. Remind them to think outside of the box. Not all imaginary creatures have to have only one nose!  Give them a few minutes to draw. Then, play the music again and have them walk about the room until it stops.

4. Repeat the playing of music and walking around the room until students have drawn all aspects of a creature: mouth, body, hair, ears, etc. Then, have the students go back to their own work to see what the creature looks like. They can add color and any other details.

5. Finally, have them write about the experience. They can write one paragraph about how they created a creature with their classmates. Then, they can write another paragraph about the new classmates they met.

This shows the progression of beginning with the eye and ending with the original student adding details. This one doesn’t have color yet. It depicts how each student can add one thing at a time.

icebreaker activity create-a-creature

Why You and Your Students Will Love This Icebreaker

This serves as a drawing prompt to get all of your students to draw something on the first days of the school year. They will engage in a non-threatening manner because of the way that they are all involved. They are all taking a calculated risk by drawing on another person’s paper. Since they are all taking the same risk, they will be more inclined to understand that this classroom is a safe space.

Having them write about this as if it was a writing prompt in itself is a great way for you to quickly assess basic writing skills. If you pay close attention to what the students are doing by using those amazing teacher observation skills you know you have, you will also be able to informally assess their drawing skills as well. You can always ask them to reflect on the experience further by identifying what they wish they’d done differently. This will give them the chance to engage in a formative assessment to improve their work for the next drawing activity you ask them to complete.

Additionally, this is an icebreaker for students. They get to meet each other and share something positive about themselves. Later in the year, you can have them engage in this same activity as a brain break. This will work well as a brain break because they will already know what to do. They will enjoy the creative experience and change from the monotony that sometimes comes later in the school year.

About the Author

Amanda Koonlaba, Ed. S. is an educator and educational consultant with over 12 years of experience teaching both visual art and regular education. Her career has been driven by the power of the arts to reach all learners. She is a published author and frequent speaker/presenter at education conferences. Amanda was named the Elementary Art Teacher of the Year for the state of Mississippi in 2016 and received the Arts Integration Service Award from the Mississippi Whole Schools Initiative (Mississippi Arts Commission) in 2015. She holds an Elementary and Middle Childhood Art certification from the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards. As a coach for The Institute for Arts Integration and STEAM, Amanda is on a mission to ensure every student in America has access to a high-quality arts-based education. She blogs at