Finish the Drawing – Bay Area Discovery Museum

Finish the Drawing

Turn an abstract line into a picture—that tells a story! This activity helps children use their visual imaginations while practicing thinking in pictures.

Materials Required

Gather these materials:

  • Paper
  • Pen or pencil (something to write with)
  • Crazy shape images (provided below)


  1. Choose one of the crazy squiggle shapes below.
  2. Finish the drawing by adding to it.
  3. Share with others and tell a story about the drawing.
  4. Select the other crazy shape. Repeat activity with the other shape.

Additional Tips

Here are add-on activities to try:

  • Draw a new crazy shape. Pass the crazy shape to someone else to complete the drawing.
  • Create a drawing by starting with a number or letter. What can a 7 be turned into? A shark? A skirt? A monster? Try turning the paper to see the number or letter from all angles.

Links to Creativity

Figural, or visual, creativity often requires pattern recognition—when someone sees something in an abstract image. In a way, these figures are a problem, and children will seek out ways to “solve” them by turning them into something more familiar and potentially creative. These visual divergent thinking tasks ask participants to come up with as many ideas for what the images could represent, which has been shown to predict creative potential.

Supporting research includes:
Runco, M. A., Dow, G., & Smith, W. R. (2006). Information, experience, and divergent thinking: An empirical test. Creativity Research Journal18(3), 269-277.

Runco, M. A., & Okuda, S. M. (1988). Problem discovery, divergent thinking, and the creative process. Journal of Youth and Adolescence17(3), 211-220.

Torrance, E. (1972). Predictive Validity of the Torrance Tests of Creative Thinking. The Journal of Creative Behavior6(4), 236-262.

Wallach, M. A., & Kogan, N. (1965). Modes of thinking in young children. New York: Holt, Rinehart and Winston.


This activity was contributed by the Center for Childhood Creativity at the Bay Area Discovery Museum. ©2014 Bay Area Discovery Museum. It was inspired by the figural divergent thinking tasks developed by E. Paul Torrance and Michael Wallach & Nathan Kogan to test creativity. For more information and resources see

Finish the Drawing

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