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Telephone Painting

Created for Saturday Art with University of Cincinnati (Ages 9-10)

Lesson Summary:
In this project students will explore the importance of clear communication. They will play the game “Telephone” to generate ideas and create a painting based on the results of this game.

Specific Objectives:
Students will:

  • Participate in the idea generation game.

  • Use the idea generated by the game to create a painting.

  • Reflect on how good/bad communication can change an idea.

Materials List: Acrylic paint in as many colors as available, Paint brushes or varying sizes, Canvases (ask about sizes), Palettes, Cups of water, Bucket (for brushes at end of lesson), Pencils, Newspapers/sheets of paper

Instructional Aides:
Rules for Telephone Game:

  • Students line up.

  • Student on the left end of the line is the first person, student on the right side is the end of the line.

  • The first person whispers their art idea into the ear of the student to their right, that student then whispers what they heard to the next student to the right. This continues until the student on the farthest right is whispered to. This student then says what they heard out loud.

  • After the word or phrase is said out loud the student on the end of the line walks around to become the first person in line.

  • Repeat until everyone has had their turn to start a round.

Vocabulary: Telephone, Miscommunication, Sketch

  • Have paintbrushes separated into cups equal to the number of tables/groups.

  • Make sure there is a variety of sizes present in each cup.

  • Have paint prepped in palettes, do this as close to class start as possible, equal to the number of tables/groups.

  • Fill cups with water halfway equal to the number of tables/groups.

  • Have canvases stacked equal to number of students.

  • Have pencils equal to the number of students in a cup/bin.

  • Cover tables with newspaper or other paper available.


  • Have students come in and sit on ground as a group.

  • Introduce concept that what you say isn’t always what people hear.

  • Explain concept of project: students will each come up with an idea of what they want to paint, they must then participate in telephone, whatever their idea turns into by the end of the round they start is what they must paint.

  • Have all students participate in telephone game.


Art Activity:

  • Once all students have finished their turn starting the telephone game, send them all to their seats.

  • Talk about how to correctly use a brush without ruining the bristles and how to wash out paint to get a new color on the brush.

  • Explain how to draw a sketch on the canvas before beginning the painting.

  • Assign students to hand out canvases and pencils, explain that they should try to take up all the space with their image.

  • Students should have 10 minutes to draw their ideas onto their canvases.

  • Once a student has completed their sketch, they must raise their hand to have the teacher come check their work, if they have a sketch of their idea with the image covering the entire canvas they may get up and get their paint and brushes.

  • Students will have until the last 15 minutes to paint.

Clean up:

  • Students will help clean up for 5 minutes.

  • Paint brushes will be put into a bucket and the teacher will make sure the ends of the brushes are covered with water so they may be cleaned after students leave.

  • Pencils go back to where they were at the beginning of the lesson.

  • Cups of paint water get dumped in sink if available.

  • Palettes get rinsed off.

  • Have students wash their hands.

  • After students leave remove newspaper and clean brushes.


  • For the last 10 minutes of the lesson:

  • Students will walk around to each table and look at each other’s paintings.

  • Each student will hold up their painting and tell the class their idea again.

  • Students will give a thumbs up if the artist successfully communicated their idea, if they are having trouble seeing the idea in the painting the students should put their hand on their chin like they are thinking.


Smith, Katherine. (02/03/2023) Assessment techniques. Fredrick Douglas Elementary School.

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