How to Break the Ice With a Sketchbook Dice Game

dog under tree

Summer is here and with it a bucket list of brilliant ways to spend your much deserved free time. Perhaps you have purchased a new book, planned a fun trip, prepped for that DIY project you have been dreaming about, or treated yourself to a brand new sketchbook!

I am guilty of purchasing a brand new beautiful sketchbook and never using it. (Gasp!) Maybe it is the thought of messing up something so pristine. Or perhaps I am just not sure where to begin. But there it sits, week after week, blank pages still blank, untouched.

Perhaps like you or some of your students, I crave something to get me started. It can be difficult to get back into the swing of creating more regularly once school ends.

I need a fresh approach, which is why I absolutely love this Sketchbook Dice Game.

dice game

This dice drawing game was designed by AOEU Course Participant and High School Art Teacher, Bill Barder. Bill came up with this game as a part of the Studio: Drawing class assignment on sketchbooks and agreed to share his game for the good of art teachers everywhere! Thank you, Bill!

As you can see from the directions in the photo above, to play the game all you need to do is roll a die and follow the prompts.

The game was such a hit that he also used it as inspiration for his Teacher Showcase Series, another AOEU course assignment where participants create a series of three pieces. Bill’s work is featured below.

lizard on a bike

flying dog

dog under tree

The genius of this game is two-fold:

  1. It takes the pressure off.
    I no longer have to come up with an idea and choose the perfect image for my perfect sketchbook. Now I simply roll the dice and draw based on the prompt that I rolled.
  2. The wording Bill selected is purposeful and deep.
    The drawing prompts combine subject, emotion, perspective, and depth. Coming up with a drawing that ticks all the boxes is no easy feat!

If you or your students are stuck in a rut, I highly recommend giving this dice game a try. You can design your own prompts or use Bill’s, it doesn’t matter. What does matter is that you shut your monkey and start drawing!

What is your trick for tackling drawing roadblocks? 

What are you excited about creating this summer?

Magazine articles and podcasts are opinions of professional education contributors and do not necessarily represent the position of the Art of Education University (AOEU) or its academic offerings. Contributors use terms in the way they are most often talked about in the scope of their educational experiences.


Heather Crockett

Heather Crockett is AOEU’s Chief Academic Officer and a former AOEU Writer and art educator. She is an expert in differentiation, curriculum development, and assessment.

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