Collaboration: Silent Drawing

Brief Description/Purpose

This is a variation of an exercise/challenge used in many of the "Chef" reality shows on television, and involves collaborating without being able to speak to one's team members. See the variations section at the bottom for other possibilities.



Age Appropriate


Ideal Group Size

20 people

Time For Exercise

15-20 minutes


Communication, Collaboration

Detailed Instructions If Needed

Create at least four teams of at least two people each. Those not in teams are observers.

Ask each group to draw a recognizable animal on their own flipchart, but here are the rules:

  • Only one team member can be drawing at their easel at any one time.
  • No speaking is permitted.
  • When facilitator says change, another team member takes the place of the first, and so on. (Change about every 10 seconds)
  • The first team that creates a picture that the entire class can recognize wins. When the team feels they are "done", they put up their hands. The rest of the class is polled to see if they can recognize the animal. If they can't (or make errors), that group is disqualified, and the game continues.

Additional Information if Available 

Here are some debrief questions:

  • Did anything stand out in terms of what's important when collaborating? What to do? What not to do?
  • How did different teams do things differently?
  • How does time pressure affect collaboration?
  • Do we see similar type tasks that require collaboration at work, but also have restrictions on communication?
  • Where do those communication restrictions come from? Can they be removed?

This exercise can be used/modified for a number of learning outcomes, so we've just included the bare bones of it. Alter it to suit. 


Variations: There are tons of variations to this task. You can have team members talk, provided they don't tell each other what the animal is.

You can use different tasks, with different levels of complexity: eg. lego building, or making a paper airplane.