Fear in a Hat

A good activity to run at the beginning of a class semester, Fear in a Hat (Also known as Worries in a Hat) is a teambuilding exercise that promotes unity and group cohesion. Individuals write their personal fears (anonymously) on sheets of paper which is then collected in a hat and read aloud. Each person tries to describe his or her understanding of the person’s fear. This leads to good discussion centered around the fears.

This teambuilding exercise requires writing utensils, sheets of paper, and a hat. Allow about five minutes of writing time, plus one to two minutes per participant. The recommended group size is at least eight, but no larger than 20. It’s possible to run this activity with a large group, if the group is divided into smaller groups and if there are enough facilitators. This activity is for people ages 14 and up.

Setup for Fear in a Hat

Distribute a sheet of paper and a writing utensil to each person. Instruct them to anonymously write a fear or worry that they have. Tell them to be as specific and as honest as possible, but not in such a way that they could be easily identified. After everyone is done writing a fear/worry (including the group leaders), collect each sheet into a large hat.

Running the Fear in a Hat Teambuilding Activity

Shuffle the sheets and pass out one per person. Take turns reading one fear aloud, and each reader should attempt to explain what the person who wrote the fear means. Do not allow any sort of comments on what the reader said. Simply listen and go on to the next reader.

After all fears have been read and elaborated, discuss as a whole group what some of the common fears were. This teambuilding exercise can easily lead to a discussion of a team contract, or goals that the group wishes to achieve. This activity also helps build trust and unity, as people come to realize that everyone has similar fears.


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