“Yes and” Character Creation

Goals: To practice building on each other's ideas, collaborating and saying “yes and” to our classmates ideas/offers.

“Yes and” Character Creation
  • task
  • Game

“Yes and” Character Creation

Contributed by Laura Borgwardt


To practice building on each others ideas, collaborating and saying “yes and” to our classmates ideas/offers.


  • Today we will be creating characters together using different shapes and our imaginations.
  • Teaching Artist and classroom teacher will start by demonstrating the process of creating a character together using shapes and taking turns. On a single sheet of paper…
    • Person 1 draws a shape
    • Person 2 adds on a shape
    • Person 3 completes the character by adding shapes and lines
    • Person 4 names the character
    • WOAH! Look at the awesome character that you created with your ensemble!
  • Hand out a sheet of paper and drawing utensil(s) to every student. We will all start by drawing one shape on our paper.
  • Pass your paper to the person on your right.
  • On this new piece of paper, add another shape to what the first person started
  • Pass it to the right
  • Now, complete the character by adding in shapes and lines
  • Pass it to the right
  • You are in charge of giving this character a name — write their name at the top of the paper.
  • Start again with a new character OR give your character a voice and a line of dialogue. Have them introduce themselves to the group or the person sitting next to them. 
  • Pass the characters back to the original artist or hang them up for everyone to do a gallery walk.
  • Reflection – 
    • How did it feel to give your artwork to the next person? 
    • Did the character you started with a shape turn out the way you thought it would? 
    • What happens when we collaborate with other artists?

Transition into Activity

Show a picture of a cloud. What does this cloud look like? Use your imagination. Show a picture of a shape. What does this shape look like? Is there a part of a character (nose, head, briefcase) that it could be?

Transition out of Activity

Give you and your fellow artists a round of applause. You created some amazing characters together. Connect the idea of building on each other’s ideas to whatever activity is coming next.

Classroom Arrangement

Level 1: Small group desk/table clusters

Level Up: Desks/tables in a giant circle

Supports/Adaptive Materials/Tools

  • Have visuals of lots of different shapes and lines posted on the wall or on individual sheets on the table(s)
  • Try practicing the shapes first — can you draw a circle? A straight line? You could try making the shapes physical (can you show a circle in your body? Can you make your arms into a diagonal line? What about a curvy line?)
  • Option: In step three, have the artist tape or glue a 3D object to the paper (a pipe cleaner, paper clip, rock, etc) to make the character mixed media.
  • You can add a visual timer so that everyone knows how much time they have for each step — step three will take longer than the first two steps.

Role of the Teachers and Paraprofessionals

Sit amongst students — remind students to be generous collaborators, as necessary

Remote Adaptation

Prepare in advance individualized shareable google drawing files. The logistics can get a bit complicated.

Art forms



20 mins