Example plays:

Above, three different players respond to the prompt, “When I was little.” One player remembers berry picking with her grandmother in the mountains of North Carolina. Another player highlights her favorite Star Trek episode from the early 90s, the one in which Jean Luc lives in an ancient society with beautiful natural fiber clothing. The third player paints a scene of tossing pennies into fountains, making wishes.

In this round (above), a player puts together a delightful scene that captures the emotion of early romance!


What’s in the balloon? Who let go of the balloon? What does the balloon represent? And why is it red? Perhaps the players will discuss after the “poem” is shared. When I “share” a poem, I like to first read it while pointing to each color chip. Then sometimes I add a story, a memory, a question. Sometimes another player jumps in with a related story, etc. Treat it like a conversation-starter!

You can make a 4-part poem if you want! Play with formatting when you arrange the chips on the table. Here, I’ve made strange pairings of things I imagine existing in some other world that’s like ours, yet also very different. Don’t you want to try walking on a series of stepping stones made of cheese puffs?

A simple, sweet, humorous image in response to “big news.”


You can make your poems visual and pictorial! Here are 4 green chips arranged into a four-leaf clover!

The 1st player (left) made a simple lovely scene. Pretty self explanatory, but maybe the player has a deeper story to tell when we ask him to say more? On the right, another player has three dreamy items – wishes? – coming out of a genie lamp. Is that her ideal home she wants to live in someday? Her childhood home she wishes she could go back to?

The player on the left explains that the “black hole” is the person’s mouth, and the “end” is merely the end for the dumpling. The rest of the world continues. On the right, the player decides not to add any commentary, and let’s the poem stand alone.

People walk the concrete jungle, darting in and out of tall buildings. Meanwhile, if you listen carefully enough, you might hear or see a bird way up above it all, peeking through the cracks of sky between the tops of the buildings. (Notice that the “bluebird” chip is intentionally placed up high, above the others.)

Paint Chip Poetry

A Game of Color and Wordplay

Let the paint chips be your muse! With a pile of paint chips at your fingertips, the poems practically write themselves. Go ahead, chase some rainbows. (Scroll down for a handful of example rounds, with commentary!)

Draw a prompt card.
Consult your colors.
Make a “poem” (I treat that term lightly and loosely!)
Share what you made! Reflect. Express. Laugh.
Play another round!

By Lea, published by Chronicle Books.

Age 8 and up.
1+ players.


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