Creative writing activity for group/workshop

Four Definitions


to play with language and to free oneself from the bonds of logic and common sense


groups of four, possibly plenary with a group that is not too large


4 small slips of paper per participant

a hat or container for the slips


This activity is based on the parlour game ‘teakettle’ in which confusing but true definitions of everyday objects are meant to throw the other players off the scent, in itself a useful activity…

I have seen a similar activity used in a workshop by Roger McGough to get the ball rolling. It’s a very successful ice-breaker


Think of four everyday objects. Write them down on one of the small pieces of paper each. These are collected.

Write down an unusual definition for each of the four objects in one sentence, but do not mention the object in that sentence (leave a blank!).

From the hat or container pick as many slips of paper as you have contributed and/or have definition sentences for.

Combine the four new objects from the slips of paper with the definitions you’ve got, making the combinations as unusual/intriguing as possible.


Build one of the sentences into a text, possibly as an overall theme, an opening or a closing statement.

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