Exquisite corpse
 While creating creature cartoons, students talk about body parts.

You will need:

  • A variety of crayons/colored pencils.
  • White sheets of paper (8.5"x11").
Suggested vocabulary:

          paper  fold  middle  draw  body  head  neck  shoulders  arms  hands  torso  hips  thighs  knees  legs  feet  corpse(s)


Click on the thumbnail image if you want to see a larger picture. Teachers who use a screen reader
should ignore the links to the larger images, as the screen reader will read the instructions in order.

  Work in groups of four. Each group needs a sheet of paper and colored pencils/crayons.

1. Fold the paper in half from top to bottom.

2. Crease it well in the middle.

3. Fold it again from top to bottom.

4. Crease it well in the middle.

5. Open the folds.

6. Student 1 draws a head and a neck on the top flap, hiding the work from the others.

7. Student 1 marks the end of the neck on the second flap.

8. Student 1 folds the first flap backwards, and gives the paper to student 2.

9. Student 2 draws shoulders, arms, and torso, marks the end of the torso on the third flap, folds the second flap backwards, and gives the paper to student 3.

10. Student 3 draws hips and thighs, marks the end of the knees on the fourth flap, folds the third flap backwards, and gives the paper to student 4.

11. Student 4 draws legs and feet.

12. The group unfolds the paper, and colors the creature, while discussing its features. Students then introduce their creatures to the rest of the class.

A more difficult activity, which is excellent for an advanced language class, is creating verse or prose using the same strategy (that is, adding words to a hidden text while moving from one student to another).

  Suggested links for additional ideas:
  • Fuzzy's Exquisite Corpse Server
    As Fuzzy explains, "An exquisite corpse was a drawing game played by the early Surrealist artists. One artist would begin a drawing and then fold over the paper hiding all but a portion of their drawing. The next artist would continue the drawing from there, fold the paper again and pass it along." This site links to completed corpses, and readers have an opportunity to add to existing corpses or begin a new one. While this is clearly an English site, this kind of activity can be the basis for creative communication in the foreign language classroom. Students can either draw pictures or develop stories and poems, both orally and in writing. A novel approach to communication in a foreign language.

  • Exquisite links
    Teach your students to play "le cadavre exquis," possibly the most famous parlor game played by the Surrealists. As William S. Rubin explains, exquisite corpse is "a kind of collective collage of words or images played by several people, each of whom would write a phrase on a sheet of paper, fold the paper to conceal part of it, and pass it on to the next player for his contribution. This game got its name from results obtained in initial playing sentences, "le cadavre exquis boira le vin nouveau" (The exquisite corpse will drink the young wine). This site provides links to corpse stories, poetry and lots of useful information on Surrealism.

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