A fun game for families, parties, or any group activity, Pictionary is a drawing game where one person draws and other players try to guess what is being drawn. Pictionary works with as few as four people or can be played with teams consisting of two or more papers. Pictionary is basically charades with drawing.
One can purchase the board game, Pictionary, or create the game at home. In the board game version of Pictionary, even numbered teams use dice to make their way around a game board. The boxed game includes the Pictionary board, a one-minute timer, 4 category cards, 496 keyword cards (5 words per card), die, 4 pads of paper, 4 pencils, and official Pictionary board game rules. Players roll the die, and when they land on a spot, they choose a card from a stack coincides that with the indicated category. The player draws whatever the card says and team members have a minute to guess the phrase or word correctly. If the team guesses right, they get to roll the dice and move forward; if they are wrong, it is the other team’s turn. The first team to reach the end of the board is the winner.
If you do not have a purchased Pictionary game, you can still play this fun and active game. This article will detail the equipment, method of play, and rules – everything you need for a homemade game of Pictionary.
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Homemade Pictionary Set-up
Before playing Pictionary, gather the following equipment:
- Pens or pencils
- Plain sheets of paper
- A drawing easel or wall space to post drawings
- A kitchen timer
How to Play Pictionary
Appoint one person to write down the items, phrases, etc. that players must draw. This person will also serve as the timer and as a referee, making sure players follow the rules and resolving any disputes. Divide the players into teams, with at least two people on each team. Let the teams choose a name and then provide each team with plenty of paper and a pencil or pen for each player. After deciding which team goes first, have a member of that team draw a slip of paper from a box, bag, or basket with a word or phrase on it. When the referee says, “Go!” the designated team player draws the word or phrase and their team guesses the meaning of what is drawn. The time limit is one minute. If their team correctly guesses the word, they receive one point. The other team repeats this process.
Winning the Game
Before the game begins, decide what must be achieved to win the game. Some suggestions are:
- The first team to get a designated number of points – for example, 20 points.
- The team with the most points when the clues run out.
There are many variations for the Pictionary game, some designed for specific ages, others for certain occasions, and still others for special groups.
The traditional game of Pictionary uses five categories or themes: people, places, or animals; action; object; challenge; or all play – a word from any of the other categories, which all players except the drawer guess.
Pictionary can be a bonding activity for parents and children when game cards include categories reflecting family vacations and activities. Another idea is to use the seasons of the year and family-specific activities for each one. For example, winter drawing ideas might be snow, snowman, ice, Christmas, etc.
Use Pictionary to help your children master vocabulary words in a variety of subjects. Categories might include history (people, places, and things for a specific area), grammar (parts of speech), and science (plants, animals, etc.).
In Themed Pictionary, there is an overall theme for each round of play. Themed Pictionary works well for special holidays and celebrations – Christmas, Thanksgiving, Halloween – as well as parties, such as a baby or bridal shower. Themed Pictionary is a great way to involve people and help them get to know each other.
For Partner Pictionary, instead of having two teams, each person is paired with one partner and the two players switch off who draws the item and who guesses. Partner Pictionary works well for large groups. Head-to-head Partner Pictionary sets up like a tournament, with each team of two playing another team of two in one round of play. The winner of each round is determined in one of two ways: 1) the first team to reach three points, or 2) whichever team has the most points when time is out. The winning partners move on to the next round. This tournament-style play continues until there is one winning pair. Make sure you keep track of everyone’s scores.
Some rules for Pictionary apply to all games and players must discuss and decided upon some rules prior game play.
Set Rules for Pictionary
The “official” rules for Pictionary are:
- The number of pieces of paper you can use for each clue is unlimited.
- An X can be used to locate something on paper or cross something out, but cannot be used as the actual letter X.
- It is against the rules to have secrets or pre-arranged clues within a team.
- You cannot draw blank lines to indicate how many words to guess.
- You cannot draw an ear to indicate a word sounds like something else.
- Spelling does not matter, so a player can draw clues for the word “leaf,” when the word being sought is “leave.”
- Drawing must be done without using any verbal communication or gestures.
- Writing numbers or letters on the clue paper is against the rules.
Flexible Rules for Pictionary
- Before play begins, the teams should decide how exact the answer must be. For example, will singular or plural words be interchangeable?
- Decide how long the drawing player has to look at the card and plan their strategy. Five to ten seconds is suggested.
Pictionary Word List
Almost any word list with words and phrases capable of artistic rendering will work for Pictionary. Some suggestions you may wish to try follow:
- Animals – cat, dog, turtle, snake, fish, etc.
- Foods – pizza, hamburger, fries, salad, etc.
- Sports – basketball, football, fishing, golf, etc.
There are many different ways to play Pictionary. You can vary the categories to suit whatever the group or occasion requires. Use your imagination and this game will always be fresh, new, and exciting.
Susan majored in English with a double minor in Humanities and Business at Arizona State University and earned a Master’s degree in Educational Administration from Liberty University. She taught grades four through twelve in both public and private schools. Subjects included English, U.S. and world history and geography, math, earth and physical science, Bible, information technologies, and creative writing.
Susan has been freelance writing for over ten years, during which time she has written and edited books, newspaper articles, biographies, book reviews, guidelines, neighborhood descriptions for realtors, Power Point presentations, resumes, and numerous other projects.
Great game for small groups! We used a roll of news print paper – the tail ends are cheap and perfect for spreading out on a table so everyone can doodle. The group picked the topic, the words were written on slips of paper, and tossed in a hat. Very easy and not much prep.