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I Spy… a new drawing game

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Tired of the same I-Spy books where you already know where the hidden figures are? Try playing the family game with a twist of your own creativity!

Origins of I-Spy

Wondering back to my childhood, I’ve always recalled playing I Spy on the road, where things moved fast, or at home, but I’ve never looked further to learn the origins of the game. After a quick online search, it seems the game has been around since the late 1800’s in England while the books started being printed as early as the 1950’s. Given that you can play the game anywhere, it’s no wonder that the game continues its popular success. Even today, there’s a variety of I Spy books available, including printable games for a more themed approach.

Our experience with the I-Spy game

What I love about this game is that it teaches kids  focus and communication skills, and further defines their visual memory. But what if we shifted the focus to the art and fine motor skills?

Over the weekend we sat down as a family and dove into this “I Spy” book. We’ve done plenty of I Spy related games before, but this book was particularly different. This special edition was the I Spy Super Challenger and it involved a dozen scenes + a bonus spread of riddles. While each scene had its own level of difficulty (lighting, silhouettes, scaled objects, etc), the real difficulty was managing the hovering heads from blocking each other’s view.

The first time going through the book it can be pretty challenging. The second round you’ll start remembering the location of some objects. By the third interaction you’d have regained your brain’s trust, but now what? Surely you can attempt to count other items (and hope you didn’t miss any along the way or overshoot), but why not create your own game without the use of a book?

Play my version of I Spy

My version of I Spy entails a little bit more creativity when selecting the stationary objects available in plain sight. I found that when playing the game with kids, you want to create a quiet environment with no distractions in which they are confined to only searching a specific room. To start the game, there will be 2 or more players: the first player is the Spy while the rest are the Seekers.

First, the Spy will secretly choose a room to play in and select a stationary object to draw. Then, the Spy will draw a small square on a sheet of paper and attempt to draw that item within the square block. The Spy doesn’t need to draw the whole object and can instead draw a recognizable portion of that item. If you’re playing with really young kids, try not to make it too abstract; include shapes/patterns, maybe add some color, and pass hints along the way.

Finding an item in my I Spy Drawing Game

The Spy will show the drawing to the Seekers and tell them which room the item is located in. The Seekers will start looking for the item that best represents the drawing. Seekers are allowed multiple guesses and are allowed to ask for hints if they get stuck.

To save time between turns, it’s easier if each player secretly draws their chosen item that they wish others to seek.

Need Help Drawing?

Maybe you made an attempt at sketching your item but drawing isn’t your thing. Or perhaps your pre-k child does not draw many details in the pictures (even though the main shape/outline is there).

Kid drawing his secret I Spy object

Here are a few ways to tweak the game and make the “drawing” process easier:

  1. use a pencil to shade the item
  2. use a pen to draw important outlines and hatches
  3. include some color to add a splash of hint
  4. use a smartphone or other device with a camera to snap the perfect picture

Add your own twist to the game

Whether you tag on a point system, add a timer, hint words, or allow zooming to a microscopic level… comment on how you’ve tweaked the game and share your experience here!

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