Andrea Mulder-Slater: The Art of Childhood


5 Creative Scribble Games to Play with Your Kids

A Scribble is Worth a Thousand Words

5 Creative Scribble Games to Play with Your Kids

Are you a habitual scribbler? 

I am - blank spaces on my to-do lists, calendars, and notebooks are often decorated with arrows, swirls, stick figures, and cubes. It’s an involuntary act that’s been with me since my early days in the classroom – tracing lines on my desk – while I desperately tried to concentrate on the material delivered by my teachers.

As it turns out, my penchant for doodling wasn’t a hindrance. Rather, it helped me navigate my way through school. Recent studies have proven that scribbling aids memory by keeping the mind from wandering.

Information like this makes me smile and it's something to keep in mind the next time you find a tangle of scribbles in the margins of your child's spiral notebooks. 

Scribbles are how we share ideas, give directions, recount events, plan projects, and pass the time while on hold with technical support.

For kids, scribbles are to writing what babbling is to talking. For older children and adults, doodling is a way to let loose, communicate and experiment in a fun, non-threatening way. Making time for scribbling is like giving yourself permission to mess up because - let’s face it - perfection is overrated.

Just ask my six year-old daughter who - not long after her first birthday - stood in our kitchen (crayon in fist) making bold lines on a sheet of paper. With each deliberate mark came a delightful squeal. It was one of the first times she had scribbled and the experience was filling her with intense joy and the urge to dance and though she could have no way of knowing it, those first experimental strokes were a very important part of her early development.

At the end of the day, every fully expressed thought begins as a few quick marks on paper and whether deliberate or accidental, a scribble is enough to spark a creative revolution.

Make Scribbling With Your Kids a Priority

Scribbling together is easy, even for parents who say, “I can’t draw a straight line.” It builds trust and tolerance as it teaches kids (and moms and dads) to accept one another’s differences. Guaranteed, you and your children will find yourselves wanting to direct one another as you doodle. That’s okay, as long you are both okay with commentary. If not...REFRAIN! The key when scribbling is to not make assessments. What you do does not have to look like anything. Unless you want it to.

To get started, here's what you need to do:

Step one: Gather some great supplies like Hilroy notebooks, pencil crayons, watercolour paper, watercolour pencils and markers.

Step two: Sit down with your kid.

Step three: Scribble together. And if you’re not sure how or where to start, here are some fun suggestions.

1. The START WITH A SHAPE Activity

The premise here is simple. Draw a shape using a Hilroy notebook and coloured pencils and see what develops.

1. Draw a random shape.

2. See if the shape reminds you of something. In this case, a wonky bump on a circle looked like a nose, which led to the creation of a person.


1. Grab a notebook and coloured pencils. You'll also need some magic markers.

2. Close your eyes and start scribbling. The first thing you'll notice is that when your eyes are closed, you will draw FAR more lines than when your eyes are open. That's your brain, taking a break from worrying about the outcome.

3. Now take a look at the scribbles to see if anything "pops" out at you. If and when it does, outline it.

My daughter instantly saw a pear peeking out of her doodle and proceeded to highlight it with markers.

Then, she spied an octopus in my scribbles. Between the two of us, we helped "Oscar" jump off the paper.


1. Grab your coloured pencils and a notebook.

2. Begin by scribbling a continuous line using a dark pencil or a permanent marker.

3. Then, see if anything peeks out at you. Take turns with your child to see what each of you can find. Then, embellish your finds with colours!


From the time she was able to understand, I’ve let my daughter know that mistakes can be beautiful. In fact, they are a necessary stop on the path to learning, which is why around here; we often refer to them as happy accidents.

1. Create some lines, shapes, doodles and squiggles using watercolour pencils on watercolour paper.

2. Dampen the shapes with water as you start to lose control. Sharp shapes will become wandering blobs and crisp lines will travel where they wish. Embrace the journey because you never know where it might take you!

5. The SHARE THE LOVE Activity

My daughter and I adore this game because we never know what we will end up with. To play, you need writing utensils, paper and a hard surface. Using a Hilroy ClipNote Clipboard is a good idea, because then you can do this activity on the go - in the backseat of the car, on an airplane or while waiting at the doctor's office. An optional twist involves using a die or a set of dice. Roll a six and you make six scribbles. And so on.

1. The first player rolls the die and makes that many marks on paper.

2. The next player takes a turn and at some point, an image may appear. Or, it may not. The idea is to "go with the flow" and not panic if things don't work out as you expect. Allow yourself to make mistakes.

Before you know it, we ended up with a character named "Razzmatazz."  Never in a million years could my daughter and I have predicted we would draw a dancing elf, but by doodling together, we created something never seen before. And that is how little scribbles can become big ideas.

Sure, there are lots of computer apps that allow kids and adults to doodle and scribble on the screen, but nothing compares to the powerful and unpredictable things you can create with a pencil and a piece of paper. And the best part is, your imagination is portable so you can take it anywhere.

It all starts with a scribble. Where will your imagination take you?