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Exquisite Corpse: A Great Teaching Game

Buzzle Staff
Exquisite Corpse is a great game to play with kids that doesn't need much besides paper, pen, and a sense of creativity.
Have you ever thought to yourself that you'd really love to do something with your kids that doesn't involve money or technology? If you have, then Exquisite Corpse is the activity for you.
It is a simple game that will also help to educate your students about word choices and sentence structure. It originated as a game played by the surrealists in the early 1920s, and is still enjoyed by people today.

A Surrealist Parlor Game

Emerging in the early 1920s, surrealism took the world by storm. Famous surrealists include Max Ernst, Salvador Dali, and the leader of the movement, André Breton. Surrealism focused on unexpected combinations. You can famously see these unexpected combinations in the artwork of Salvador Dali, which has delighted many a viewer, and prompted much study.
The surrealists used to play parlor games that enhanced their creativity and provided them with ideas for their work. Now, people play them to laugh at the funny combinations as well as to further delve into poetic turns and word choice.

How to Play

The key to this game is the sentence you work from. This sentence is "The exquisite corpse drank the blood-red wine." If you want to turn this game into a grammar lesson, you can divide the sentence into two: the subject ("The exquisite corpse") and the predicate ("drank the blood-red wine").
Each person is responsible for half of the sentence, either the subject or the predicate, and they should follow the pattern of the sentence. Each subject should have an article, an adjective, and then a noun. Each predicate should have a verb, an article, an adjective, and a noun. To begin, each person needs a piece of paper and a writing utensil.
Each person should write a subject on his or her paper in the article, adjective, noun format. After everyone has written their subject down, they should fold the paper over so what they have just written is hidden. Then, they should pass the paper to someone else.
When everyone has a new paper, they should not look at what was written before, but write a predicate down in the verb, article, adjective, noun format. Only after they have written the predicate can they flip up the paper to see what the subject is. The whole sentence read together should be hilarious and unexpected.

Word Choice

The first few rounds of this game might fall flat. This is because, if the words in the sentence aren't interesting words, the sentence will just be boring. Think of the words in the original sentence. What is more interesting than an exquisite corpse drinking blood-red wine?
Choosing interesting words makes all the difference in this game. In this way, you can teach your children about interesting words and use this game as a vocabulary builder as well as a fun activity.


If you have several kids or family members in a group, there are many possibilities with this game. You can have everyone write a subject, fold it up, and put it in a bowl. Have everyone write a predicate and fold it up and put it in another bowl. Take turns drawing subjects and predicates and reading them aloud. You might be surprised at the combinations.
Another favorite is Exquisite Corpse Picture. Have someone draw the top to a picture and then fold the paper over so just a little bit is showing. Then, have someone else draw the bottom to a picture without looking at the top. This can create some crazy combinations and some great artwork for the fridge.