Paper Telephone

3.5 stars

Separate into groups of 5-7 people each.

Have each group sit around a table. Give a blank sheet of paper to each participant. Everyone writes a common catchphrase, such as "bigger is better" or "two fries short of a happy meal" at the top of their paper (any catchphrase works).

Everyone then passes their paper to the person on their left, who then attempts to draw a picture which communicates the phrase. For instance, for the phrase "bigger is better", someone may draw something like this: O > o = !

Once everyone has finished drawing their picture, they then fold back the top part of the paper (the part that had the phrase on it) so that the phrase is no longer showing, and pass the paper (with only the picture visible!) on to the player on their left.

That player looks at the drawing and writes what they think the phrase is. They then fold back the part of the paper that had the drawing so that only their new phrase is now showing, and pass the paper on to the left. Play continues around the table with each new person either drawing a picture of the phrase in front of them, or writing the phrase they think the picture in front of them represents, until the papers come full circle back to their original owners.

It's hilarious to see how phrases have changed!


  • Free / Low Cost
  • Sharing, Get to know you
  • Night
  • Ice breaker
  • Indoor
  • Small area
  • Teens (Age 12-15)
  • Teens (Age 16-18)
  • Young Adults

Group Size
  • Small Groups (1-9 people)
  • Medium (10-29 people)
  • Large groups (30+)

  • Medium (11-29 mins)
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We did this a little differently. We cut a standard sheet of paper into 16 pieces. Everyone has as many sheets of paper as there are people. The whole stack is passed with the person receiving the picture or sentence moving that piece to the back of the stack and then writing or drawing. Very fun game, but depending on your group limits may need to be set, it can sometimes get dirty with older kids.
- Tad (12 Jan 2011)

We have another name for this game: Telephone Pictionary. Since we have such a large group, and since it's so popular, we often have to divvy up into smaller groups so everyone has a chance to play. Depending on the amount of people participating, we usual get in somewhere around 2-3 rounds per game. We also play with cut up paper and shuffling, which can sometimes lead to the sequences falling out of order, but it's still very fun. And yes, dirtiness is something to look out for, as with any game involving creativity and teens.
- Bridie (21 Dec 2011)

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