Telephone Pictionary

A relaxed, icebreaker, memory, circle game

Also known as: Chinese Pictionary

How To Play Telephone Pictionary

This group game could be used as an ice breaker game or just as a relaxed game.

It's a cross between Telephone and Pictionary.

Would work well in a whole group setting (depending on how big the group is) or with separate teams.

Divide the group into four even teams and give each team a phrase or random sentence (ie. "Three men chasing a giant cat." or "Broken pirate ship sinking"). The first person in the group needs to draw this (without revealing the phrase) and the second person needs to then write down what they think the sentence description is.

Then they need to pass this on to the next person and they need to draw that to the next person, and so on until each group member has had a turn. The last person of each team will then need to read out their final sentence description and see which team has the closest match to the original phrase. Can be really funny to see how the picture changed!

Materials Needed

paper, pens


Gossiping, interpretation of the bible


Added by
on 10 December 2010


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This is not a bad ESL activity. Probably best used to introduce new topics.

Posted by Andrew on 4 Dec 2015 at 11:59:36

This game is the best! so much fun the kids just love seeing how their picture evolved at the end. Groups of about 6 work best any bigger and it can take a long time

Posted by Han on 6 Aug 2014 at 8:21:22

I played this game with my group of International students, which was fun because we used lines from nursery rhymes that wouldn't normally make sense (the cow jumped over the moon).

Here are a few tips:

1. Give each person something to be working on because if you have only one word or phrase being passed along, the other students are likely to get restless and create chaos. But if each person is working on a word or phrase, then all stay involved.

2. I didn't try to play it in teams against each other, just had fun with one group, which worked just fine and was fun.

3. To avoid confusion, don't try to explain all the rules at first. Just explain each step as you go. I.e. draw what you see. Pass it to the next person. What is the drawing? Etc.

4. To really avoid confusion, have the terms on index cards, while the pictures are drawn on regular sized paper. So each round, you have to collect the index card or picture from the previous round before they get passed on. It's so much less confusing if you know that you are collecting the index card or the paper with drawing rather than sort out which paper they have you need to take away, so it doesn't get passed on to the next person.

Be organized in advance, and it can be a lot of fun. "The cow jumped over the moon" turned into something eating carrots. Humpty (an egg) sat on a wall turned into baseball and bat! But three blind mice became three teddy bears, and the mouse ran up the clock turned into the bird goes up a clock!

Posted by Vicki on 6 Mar 2014 at 7:59:38

Telephone Pictionary for iOS has now been released if you are interested! Feel free to pass this along to all those who love the game!

Posted by Jonathan on 12 Oct 2011 at 4:13:27

Chinese Pictionary

Posted by Sonja on 16 Sep 2011 at 4:43:02

Thanks Shorty. That helps. Sounds like a great game.

Posted by Tim on 8 Mar 2011 at 4:53:59

Essentially it goes like this:

1st person: Draws the phrase, pass on picture to next person
2nd person: Looks at picture, writes the phrase, passes on phrase to next person.
3rd person: Looks at phrase, draws picture, pass on picture to next person
4th person: Looks at picture, writes the phrase, passes on phrase to next person.

Does that make more sense?

Posted by Shorty on 7 Mar 2011 at 9:40:27

Sounds like a fun game.I don't quite follow the instructions "then they pass it on to the next person........" Could some one explain?

Posted by Anna on 5 Mar 2011 at 10:36:25

Thanks for the ideo. God bless!

Posted by Nelo on 9 Feb 2011 at 1:18:02

i am going to be using this one..

Posted by kritika goundar on 31 Jan 2011 at 5:40:23

yeah,, it's cool,,

Posted by chengbest on 21 Jan 2011 at 7:41:33

Really funny games. Hope to visite more on website

Posted by Riaaz on 16 Jan 2011 at 11:25:38

This sounds like it could be fun! I'm going to try it with my group. Thanks for the idea.

Posted by Eva on 16 Jan 2011 at 12:55:30
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