Surreal activity: Invent a creature with friends

Create a fantastical creature with your friends or whānau. The results willl be strange, funny, and unpredictable!

An example of an exquisite corpse, 2021. Te Papa

Exquisite corpse

An exquisite corpse is a drawing (or writing) activity in which a person draws or writes something, conceals it (often by folding the paper in such a way that it hides what you have drawn or written), and passes it on to another person to add to it, who can only see the edges of the prior contribution, so they can match their drawing with it. This continues until everyone involved has drawn or written their contribution. They then reveal the surprise drawing or story in its entirety.

Download the exquisite corpse template (1.39 MB)


Step 1: Draw a head

Use the exquisite corpse template or a piece of paper folded into three.

Draw the head of a strange, imaginary creature in the first third.

Once you’ve finished, fold over your creation so the next person can only see the two lines where the neck begins.

Step 2: Swap your paper

Give your paper to someone and take their paper.

Step 3: Draw a body

Draw a fantastical body that joins up with the neck lines.

This body could have wings, or gills, or lots of arms – whatever!

Add some guiding lines so the next person can see where to start drawing the next part of the body.

Now fold over the paper so the body is hidden.

Step 4: Swap your paper

Give your paper to someone new and take theirs.

Step 5: Draw the last part of the creature

This last section is for the legs, or tail, or feathers – or all of them!

Step 6: Reveal the creature

Open up the wonderfully bizarre creatures you’ve made.

Want to keep working on the creature? Cut it out and display it on the wall. Give it a name and expain where it lives and what it eats. You could even write a story about it.

This activity has been adapted from the free-to-download surreal activities teaching resource