Droodles was a syndicated cartoon feature created by Roger Price and collected in his 1953 book Droodles. The trademarked name "Droodle" is a nonsense word suggesting "doodle", "drawing" and "riddle." Their general form is minimal: a square box containing a few abstract pictorial elements with a caption (or several) giving a humorous explanation of the picture's subject. For example, a Droodle depicting three concentric shapes little circle, medium circle, big square might have the caption "Aerial view of a cowboy in a Port-a-john."
Droodles are (or were) purely a form of entertainment like any other nonsense cartoon and appeared in pretty much the same places (newspapers, paperback collections, bathroom walls) during their heyday in the 1950s and 1960s. The commercial success of Price's collections of Droodles led to the founding of the publishing house Price-Stern-Sloan, and also to the creation of a Droodles-themed game show. There was also a droodle-based game called "Mysteriosos" on HBO's Braingames. Series of newspaper advertisements for the News and Max brands of cigarettes featured cigarette-themed Droodles.
Frank Zappa's 1982 album Ship Arriving Too Late to Save a Drowning Witch
One of Price's original Droodles serves as the cover art for Frank Zappa's 1982 album Ship Arriving Too Late to Save a Drowning Witch. Price's other captions for that drawing include "Mother pyramid feeding her baby."
Droodles For Students
This lesson combines students' love of word games and drawing to promote critical thinking.
- explore word and picture puzzle techniques.
- interpret word and picture puzzles.
- create word and picture puzzles.
words, puzzle, drawing, game, vocabulary
- computers with Internet access (optional)
- chalkboard and chalk or large paper and marker
- tips for rebus puzzles (available online)
- sample word and picture puzzles (available online)
- paper and pencils
Lesson PlanWord and picture puzzles are fun, educational, and well received by students. "Droodles" are picture puzzles that may be interpreted with words in many different ways. There is no single correct answer with a droodle every reasonable response is as acceptable as the next!
To get started with this activity, introduce your students to the droodle with the Exploratorium's The Meaning of Droodles page. If you prefer, you may print this page and use the information as the basis for instruction.
Draw some sample droodles on the board or on large paper so that all members of the class can view them, and have your students share their ideas about what the pictures may mean. (If you plan to leave this lesson behind for a substitute teacher, you might print off a handful of droodles from the archive to leave behind with this lesson.) Then give students time to create a droodle and have the class or a few partners attempt to interpret it.
Using IMOK. UROK. from the Exploratorium, have your students write conversations in puzzle form. They may even illustrate the conversations as cartoons. Everyone will enjoy finding the meanings behind these unique puzzles.
The teacher may collect student work (original droodles and picture/word puzzles) for evaluation. All satisfactory student-created puzzles must be appropriate for the classroom and be representative of the puzzles introduced in the lesson. The teacher will also observe students as they work together in exchanging and solving puzzles.