What it is: Originally a board game, but it’s become a common classic, and you don’t need to buy the game to play your own version. It’s a drawing word-guessing game for groups of any age.
Best for: Group of at least 4 players.
What you need: You’ll need something to draw on, like a big pad of paper and marker, a chalk board and chalk, or a wipe-off board and dry erase marker. Or even just a stack of blank paper. You’ll also need slips of paper with words written on them and a hat or bowl to put them in. (Or, you can use my online word generator!) Optional: a stopwatch/hourglass/clock, and a piece of paper to keep score.
How to play: The game is pretty simple: players take turns silently drawing different things while their team tries to guess what the drawing is. Teams compete against each other to have the most guessed words and win the game.
The way you set up the game can vary; pictionary allows for a lot of flexibility. For this post, let’s pretend you’re going to play with a big group divided into two teams.
Before the game starts, you’ll want to come up with some things to draw and write them on slips of paper (see the end of this post for some pre-made lists). The objects can be as hard or as easy as you want. If you’re playing with little kids, easily illustrated nouns like sun or bear would probably be good; if you’re playing with teens or adults, throw in some abstract nouns like honor, some adjectives or verbs like upset or dance, or maybe some idioms like have a cow.
Once you have your slips of paper ready, fold them up and put them in a bowl or hat. Then divide your players into two teams.
If you have one drawing surface, have teams take turns sending up a player to pick a word from the hat and draw it in a pre-designated amount of time. If the team guesses the word before the time runs out, they get a point. (Or, if you want to designate hard and easy words at the beginning, you could assign different point values to different words.) Then the other team takes a turn.
If you have two drawing surfaces, you could have each team send up a player and have them draw the same word at the same time (hiding their drawings from the other team). First team to guess the word wins the round.
At the end, tally up points and announce a winner!
Variations: Instead of having a player draw one word before the time runs out, you could let team members draw as many words as their team could guess before the time runs out, if you like that sort of fast-paced action.
You also don’t have to keep score or keep time if you want. You don’t even need two teams. You could just play with a big group of people and take turns drawing, with slips of paper or with players thinking of their own words to draw. Players take as long as they need to draw. The first player who guesses correctly gets to draw next.
Printables: Want some ready-to-go pictionary word lists? Click any of the links below, print out the lists, cut into strips, mix and match, and enjoy! Or, if you want word lists you don’t have to print out, check out my word generator.
- Pictionary Word List – Easy Words
- Pictionary Word List – Easy Words 2
- Pictionary Word List – Medium Words
- Pictionary Word List – Medium Words 2
- Pictionary Word List – Hard Words
- Pictionary Word List – Hard Words 2
- Pictionary Word List – Really Hard Words
- Pictionary Word List – Movie Titles
- Pictionary Word List – People and Characters
- Pictionary Word List – Idioms
And if you really like playing pictionary beyond the occasional class or family party, I’d highly recommend buying the real game. It has a lot more words, a board, and a better way to keep score; it’s an awesome way to play.