Draw Your Neighbor

A Creative Icebreaker: Draw Your Neighbor

Mike Mackert | School of Advertising and Public Relations

The first day of class can often be a little on the dry side. There are some basics I always have to get through: an overview of the syllabus, doing student introductions to learn more about what they hope to get out of the class, etc. I always want to have something fun on the first day, so now I also include a great icebreaker activity that makes an important point about creativity.

Step 1: I ask each student to take out a blank sheet of paper and a pen or pencil.

Step 2: I tell them that they are going to have one minute to draw a portrait of the person next to them. Everyone looks a bit nervous.

Step 3: GO!

Step 4: For a minute there is a lot of furious drawing, nervous laughter, and (generally) a few muttered curses.

Step 5: When I call time and ask the students to show their neighbor the portrait, the room tends to explode in a combination of laughter and apologies.

Step 6: I make the point that if I asked a 4-year old to do the same thing, they would work very hard for a minute and then be very proud of their work. No apologies. The lesson is that we shouldn’t apologize for doing the best we can, or throwing out a rough idea, or trying something crazy. Experimentation and creativity is crucial, and we must be unapologetic when pursuing new ideas.

It works wonderfully every time, and it always sets a great tone for the semester.

Teaching Tips Archive

Icebreaker: 30 Circles
Countdown Game