Liberating Structures, Warm up activities

Tiny Demons/Drawing Monsters

Help people express and face their fears in a way that can help reduce stress and anxiety.

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Tiny Demons/Drawing Monsters
Educator prep: None
Student prep: None
Synchronous or Asynchronous
Video conferencing, Breakout rooms, Paper / pens
Duration: 5-30 mins

Activity purpose

Use a creative way to help people express/face their fears and see them differently.

Useful for

Helping people through a stressful or anxiety-inducing experience that can benefit from naming, visualizing, and sharing.


Minimal - the prompt people will use to draw their demons.


Ask people to bring pen/cil and paper. First, ask participants to individually make a list on paper of their fears/anxieties around a particular topic (e.g. for students, about learning online, or about an upcoming assessment)

Drawing part:

  • Ask them to divide the paper (fold or draw lines) into four (or six or eight, your choice!) pieces
  • Ask participants to put in each box a round shape, a four sided shape, a three sided shape and a squiggle
  • Ask participants to then convert each of the parts of the paper into monsters - abstract or realistic - invite them to go wild
  • Next, ask participants to select fears they had written and connect them to one of the monsters they drew, naming the monsters
  • In groups of 2-4 (breakout rooms), invite participants to share one or all of their monsters with each other, and think through which one of these they would like to see differently
  • Do another round of discussing how participants want to look at one of the fears/anxieties differently
  • Bring participants back to the main room and invite some to share
  • Ask participants to re-draw one of their monsters, like dancing with them or something like that
  • Debrief with participants how they felt doing the exercise and what it was enabled for them


About 30 minutes in all, with several pauses to draw and discussions in breakout rooms and a debrief.

Adaptations and examples

You could ask students to do some of the steps ahead of class time and spend more time in class discussing what they came up with, but important to tell them not to agonize over the quality of the drawing itself. (in person, with limited time, it’s easier to not focus on the quality because time constraints are explicit).

Technical requirements

Depending on the size of your group you may wish to use breakout rooms.

Useful resources

More 'Liberating Structures' activities:
Equity Unbound Activity
Imaginary Buffet (or Potluck)
The purpose of this activity is to engage students with each other’s ‘small talk’, by making a game out of active listening.
Maya Hey
Equity Unbound Activity
PowerPoint Karaoke
Engage students in improv presenting, and enhance oral presentation skills in a light and humorous way.
Maha Bali, Jasmina Najjar, Hoda Mostafa
Lost in Translation
Raise awareness of the richness of language and creativity in using language.
Francesca Helm

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