My Coat of Arms

Group size:  5-25

Purpose:  Increase insight and awareness, increase group cohesion, tell our story through symbols and metaphors.

Props Needed

  1. Coat of Arms handout
  2. Art Supplies (Markers, crayons, colored pencils)

Activity Preparation

  1. Prep time needed: 15 minutes
  2. Prior to class ensure that you have enough art supplies and handouts so that everyone has some.


Time needed

  • Directions: 5 min
  • Activity: 40 min
  • Debrief: 15 min

Set Up:  It is helpful to make sure that participants have enough supplies spread throughout the room and a hard surface to lean on like a table of clip board.

Activity Directions:

  • Explain history and meaning of a Coat of Arms
  • Explain they will be creating their own personal coat of arms
  • Pass out coat of arms handout and art supplies to each member of the group
  • Ask members to draw a symbol or picture that represents each section as identified by the legend. Only use words for the motto.
  • Give group about 15-20 minuets to complete the handout.
  • Give a 10 and 5 minuet warning to help keep them on time.
  • Once they have completed each section have group members present their coat of arms to group.



Facilitator script: “Gather round everyone we are going to go ahead and get started. Today we are going to do some work with the idea of creating out own coat of arms. Does anyone know what that is?

The coat of arms traces back to the 11th century and was used by the ancient Romans as a way of sharing their history. Militaries, families, corporations, and individuals use the coat of arms to tell their history. To tell the story it usually includes different sections and a motto. Here is a handout in which you will create your own coat of arms.

(Pass out both sheets of paper and Hold up the handout) You should have two sheets of paper. One is the actual coat of arms that you will be creating and the other is the legend for what goes where. On the shield, I encourage you to draw pictures and use symbols, no words. And on the ribbon at the bottom, using words, write out your motto. In the top left section, you will draw out a symbol that represents your definition of recovery. In the top right section, you will draw out a symbol that represents something about yourself that makes me feel proud. In the middle left section, you will draw out a symbol that represents a hard lesson you learned. In the middle right section, you will draw out a symbol that represents one opportunity for growth. In the bottom left section you will draw a symbol that represents where you draw your strength from. In the bottom right section, you will draw out a symbol that represents your vision for the future. Finally, in the ribbon at the bottom you will wright out your personal motto.

Use the legend as your guide in creating your coat of arms. You will have about 15 – 20 minutes for this part of the activity. Don’t overthink it and remember this is not an art contest.

(Give group 15-20 minutes to complete their coat of arms. Be sure to give time warnings when they are about ½ and ¾ of the way through their allotted time)

Great Job everyone! Our time is about up. Who would like to share what you created?


  • What was challenging about this activity?
  • Which section was easiest/hardest to do?
  • How did you feel about presenting your coat of arms?
  • What did you think as you listened to your peers present theirs?


Recovery/Wellness Metaphor: So often we are relegated to tell out stories only using words. By engaging the creative mind, we are able to access even deeper aspects of our story. The coat of arms is often used on the battle field and often the process of recovery can sometimes feel like a battle. Leaning into this metaphor puts participants in the role of the Hero of their story!

Role of Facilitator: Help to keep participants on task and know that sometimes doing art projects can bring up shame and other feelings of discomfort. Help to hold the space and keep the room quiet while participants are creating.

Variations: Feel free to adapt the sections of the coat of arms to fit your population, topic, and purpose of the group.