Three Wise Monkeys exercise

To teach Communicating about Climate Change

Time: 20-45 minutes Group Size: 10+ people

We all know stories about climate related disasters. It’s all over the press and social media. Usually people pay attention to climate change when these striking moments happen. How can we become more effective in communicating about climate change issues? 



What you need: One picture or drawing about climate change. Sheets of paper and colored pencils. Blindfolds and ear plugs. 


Aims: To discuss the challenges to talk about climate change | Unpack scientific data in a visual way | Know your audience to frame your message | Symbols can be as effective as numbers


Divide the participants in groups of three. Each member will represent one of the three wise monkeys. They will sit in a circle, backs to each other and will have to draw one image together.

The first monkey can’t hear, only sees and talks. The second one can’t see, they only listens and speaks. And the third one is voiceless, but they can see and hear.

The information flows only in one direction. The first monkey receives a picture and has to describe what they are seeing to the second one, which tells the third what to draw.

When the time is up, ask them to compare the images. Start having an open discussion.

What were the main challenges and insights doing the exercise? What can we learn from it? Was it difficult? Why is telling these kinds of stories  so hard, but so important? 


*** Topics to bring while facilitating the discussion. What you see is not always what you get. Help the viewer see what you see. How to show climate change when you can’t see. Use symbols, metaphors. Make scientific data a piece of art to stick in your brain (global warming as the “elephant in the room”). Climate change is also a cultural change.  


*** This is an opener for a further discussion on how to communicate your message more effectively.