You’ve probably done the activity where you draw on white paper with a white crayon and then use watercolor paint to make the crayon marks appear. This is a fun, collaborative variation of that same idea.
In this activity, you’ll start by drawing a simple picture in white crayon. Then you’ll give instructions to your child to help them draw in a setting around your “invisible” drawing. As the setting emerges bit by bit, talk to your child about what they’re seeing and make guesses about what they could be drawing. Then, just before the big reveal with watercolor, have them guess what you’ve drawn in white crayon. They will get such a kick out of discovering what you’ve drawn!
This is a great thing to do when a child needs some calming one on one time. I’ve found that doing a collaborative activity like this can really help ground kids, and often leads to peaceful independent play.
I’ve created a sample Mystery Picture (see below) to get you started, but this activity will be even better when you change it up to align with your child’s interests. Have fun!
- white paper
- white crayon
- colored crayons, pencils, or markers
- watercolor paints
Draw or trace a person, animal, or object in white crayon on white paper. Hint: It was much easier for me to trace than to try to draw without being able to see! I tried to freehand it at first, but the kids couldn’t tell what I’d drawn which made the whole thing a little anticlimactic. I traced from a children’sdrawing book, but a black and white image search would work just as well.
Develop a list of instructions for your child to follow to draw the setting for your hidden object (or use those below). Hint: I’ve found it helpful to create some kind of boundary around your hidden object (a window, a dog house door, a pond) so that the child doesn’t have to paint over the entire page with watercolor. Of course, this is totally optional.
Read the directions to your child one at a time. It’s the BEST to watch them draw and see their little faces trying to puzzle out what you’ve got them drawing.
When the setting is complete, have them make some guesses about what the hidden object could be. The objective here is not to guess the correct object, but to enjoy the process and exercise their minds thinking about the possibilities. Finally, have them reveal what you’ve drawn by painting over with watercolor!
Ideas for extending the fun:
- After doing this activity a few times, switch roles and have the child make a Mystery Picture for you to complete! Planning out the steps they want you to take and giving clear directions may be a little challenging at first, but most kids are motivated by the opportunity to be the one in charge!
- Use the picture as inspiration to write or tell a story about what’s happening or about to happen in the scene!
- If your child is engaged in the storytelling aspect of this activity, create Mystery Pictures to show a sequence of events. Bonus points for silliness!