Create Mystery Poems as a Family

This collaborative poetry game is fun for families, helps kids develop grammar and vocabulary, and is sure to end in laughter!
By Christie Burnett
Apr 02, 2018




Apr 02, 2018

Have you ever played the mystery drawing game where one player draws the head and neck of a person or animal and then folds the paper over before the next player draws the body, and then the third player draws the legs? Together you’ve created a mystery drawing, often with quite comic results! Did you know that you can also use the same premise to play a poetry writing game?

Poetry is fabulous for helping children develop greater awareness of a range of language conventions, including:

  • the sounds of letters and words
  • the rhythm of our spoken language
  • rhyming (and non-rhyming) words
  • metaphors and similes
  • the ability to view the world from different places or perspectives

But poetry can also feel a bit daunting for many of us, especially to write. If you’ve never tried poetry as a family, this introduction to poetry provides lots of helpful information. Plus, fun activities such as this mystery poetry exercise are perfect for engaging children with poetry writing without pressure or stress — the collaborative nature of the activity provides children with lots of support and the mystery element of not knowing what the other players are writing is lots of fun, with the resulting poems sure to have you laughing together too.

What You'll Need

  • Paper
  • A pen or pencil for each player


1. Before beginning, agree a sentence structure. For example:

  • The first sentence should focus on a noun or proper noun.
  • The second sentence should include a verb.
  • The third sentence should include one or two adjectives.

Noun: a person, place or thing (mother, the bedroom, kettle)

Verb: an action word (hop, sleep, stretch)

Adjective: a word to describe a noun (sweet, red, perfumed)

2. Provide your child with an example of each sentence:

First: I have a pillow.

Second: I took a bite.

Third: It was hot and smelly.

3. It can also be helpful to agree a theme for your collaborative poem, for example animals, or a season, a color, or an activity like going to the beach.

How to Play

Step 1: Each player akes a piece of paper and writes their first sentence. They then fold the paper to conceal what they have written and then pass the paper to the player to their right. Remember — no peeking!

Step 2: Each player now writes a second sentence on the paper they have been given. He folds the paper to conceal their sentence and pass the paper to the player to their right.

Step 3: Play continues in this manner until the poem is complete.

Step 4: Unfold the papers and read your completed poems. An example poem, with the theme of animals;

I see a dolphin

Climbing up a ladder.

Loud and creepy.

My girls found the completed poems extremely amusing and it really is a super simple, quick game to play. In fact, it might just become our go-to waiting game next time we eat out!

If you'd like to try another family poetry exercise, try writing Rainbow Poems next. Plus, check out these selections of poetry for independent readers and poetry for preteens.

Featured Photo Credit: ©BraunS

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