“Yes and” Character Creation

In this group drawing activity, students will practice building on each other's ideas and saying “Yes, and—” to their classmates’ ideas/offers.

“Yes and” Character Creation

“Yes and” Character Creation

Contributed by Laura Borgwardt


In this group drawing activity, students will practice building on each other’s ideas and saying “Yes, and—” to their classmates’ ideas/offers.


  • “Today we will be creating characters together using different shapes and our imaginations.”
  • Start by demonstrating the process of creating a character together with the Classroom Professional, 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.
    • “Whoa! 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 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 one another’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 (e.g., 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.
  • Provide students with pencil grips.
  • Have both skinny and thick pencils or markers available unless there’s a specific reason not to.

Possible Roles for Classroom Professionals

  • Sit among the students—remind them to be generous collaborators, as necessary.
  • Offer students who finish early ways to continue (e.g. “Where might this character live? What kind of transport might this character use?”).

Adjustments for Remote Instruction

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Prepare in advance shareable Google Drawing or Jamboard files.

Art forms



20 mins