Pictionary© and History

You better know your history if you're going to draw it!

Integrating U. S. History with Educational Technology
Deborah T. Aufdenspring
New Technology High School
Napa, California

Once or twice a year we play Pictionary© in history class. But we don't use the board game and its subject matters. Students draw at the whiteboard trying to communicate an historical concept, event, personality or place. An example is pictured above - "vertical integration of the oil industry", (e.g., Rockefeller and the oil trust).

Like the use of image in the haiku lesson plan, I felt that if a student can draw a picture of one of these abstract historical or economic concepts, they're well on the way to mastering the concept.

The use of the Pictionary© paradigm is not something I came up with. I don't know what brilliant history teacher first developed this lesson plan or I'd send them roses.


Class is divided into two teams.

Teacher selects one team to go first and team members select their "artist" from team members.

Teacher gives selected team's artist a 3x5 card with an historical term written on one side and the term's classification on the other.

Teacher tells class what the classification is: person, event, idea/concept, place.

"Artist" is given 1 minute to think and 3 minutes to draw.
Answers can be called out by the artist's team only. Speaking by other team's members gives point to artist's team. Wild guesses are not allowed. Teacher may pause game to ask what thought processes went into a guess. Inability to explain the processes results in forfeiture of turn.

If artist's team does not guess in 3 minutes, opposing team gets 1 minute to confer and one guess.

Special Rules for Artists:

No use of words, letters. numbers, or common symbols.

Drawing must be representative of the term. Artist may not draw objects that "sound like" syllables of the term.

For example, John D. Rockefeller might be represented by a drawing of an oil refinery and an octopus to represent the oil cartel of the late 1800's. He should not be drawn by breaking his last name into syllables represented by a rock, the letter "e", and a drawing of a male figure (fellow).


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