Refugees

Free lesson plan, writing template and printable word-search puzzles for kids

refugees

Best suited to:

Years 2 – 6

KLAs covered:

English (point of view, reverse/palindrome poetry), PDH (empathy, perspective-taking)

Learning:

  • some people believe refugees do not deserve help and should go back to the countries they came from;
  • some people believe refugees are people just like us who deserve our compassion, understanding and help;
  • our opinions and beliefs depend on the way we choose to look at the world;
  • we can choose to look at refugees through a lens of fear and suspicion or through a lens of compassion and inclusion;
  • it is possible to change the way we think about a subject such as refugees;
  • what is a reverse/palindrome poem? What effect do they have on the reader?

Need to know:

  • a different and fascinating book for children and adults; 
  • the text is a reverse/palindrome poem: when read forwards (top to bottom), it has one meaning and when read backwards (bottom to top), it has a different – and completely opposite meaning;
  • the reverse poem articulates the two opposing views people in Australia and similar countries typically hold about refugees;
  • this is essentially a book of two voices. The first voice sees the people fleeing from war and persecution and asks Why here? Why my country? (fear and suspicion). The second voice sees the same thing and says Why not make them welcome? Why not share the things we have? (compassion, understanding and inclusion); 
  • illustrations are drawn with a darker, muted palette and are powerful but still appealing;
  • cleverly reinforces the truth that there are two sides to every debate;
  • a good book to use as a springboard for deep, rich discussions about the refugee experience, especially with children aged from 10 years up;

Discussion Questions (before reading):

  • this is a text which I believe is best read aloud without too much discussion before reading;
  • discuss the cover and title: who are refugees? What do you see on the cover? 
  • briefly review children’s understanding of refugees. Refugees are people who leave their own countries because they are in danger and need to find a safe place to live;
  • show the children the end papers (inside the front cover) and draw their attention to the patchwork image;
  • discuss the fact that people have different opinions about things. Give some examples that the children can relate to: some people like pizza, some don’t; some people like swimming/writing/playing computer games and some don’t. Tell the children that people in countries like ours have different opinions about refugees and that this story is about these different opinions;

Ways to approach reading this text:

You can, of course, choose to read this text aloud simply by reading it through from cover to cover. This is usually a good approach for children from Year 5 up.

You could also choose to read it in two parts and to discuss each part separately. This can be a good approach for children in Years 3 and 4:

  • read the text up to – and including – the page that reads:
    Do not be so stupid to think that
    The world can be looked at another way. 
  • ask the children: what is the point of view being expressed in the story in the part we’ve read? How does it make you feel to read it? Do you agree that refugees should not be made welcome in other countries? Why or why not? (accept all responses);
  • read the rest of the text and discuss. How is this way of looking at refugees in this part of the book different? How did you feel as we read it? Do you agree that we should make refugees welcome in our country? Why or why not? (accept all responses);

Discussion Questions (after reading):

  • what kind of text is this? What do you notice about the way it’s written? Is it a poem or a story? Is it both?
  • what are the two different points of view expressed in this poem?
  • how did you feel listening to the poem? Did your feelings change as the poem progressed? How and why?
  • introduce the concept of a reverse/palindrome poem and briefly discuss;
  • show the children the last page where the poem is written. Have one child read the poem aloud from start to finish. Have another child read it from the bottom up;
  • ask the children: why do you think the author chose to write this book the way he did? What is the effect on the reader or writing it in this way? How could the author have written it differently but still shown that people have different ways of thinking about refugees? Do you think the effect on the reader would have been different?
  • what do you think is the message the author wanted to convey with this poem?

Activities

Years 2 – 6

  • children write and illustrate a response to the text. What was it about? Which part did they like/not like? What do they think about refugees?
  • children write about how they felt when listening to the story and illustrate their work. What part of the story made them feel that way?  Why?
  • children re-tell the story using words and/or drawings;

Years 3 – 6

Writing activity

Children write about refugees. They describe what a refugee is, why people become refugees and whether they think we should help them, giving reasons for their opinions. Should we allow them to live in our country? What are some other ways we could help them?

Drama activity

As a class, watch this video clip of American medical students reciting the poem.

  • briefly discuss the clip. How did it feel to hear the poem being read in this way? The students are studying at an American university. How do you think they feel about refugees?
  • the class could perform and perhaps record their own reading of the poem. Depending on the number of children, you could give each one a line to learn. You could also do it in groups so each child has 2-3 lines (the poem has 24 lines).
  • before reading and recording, discuss the fact that this is a performance and that they should read/recite their line with emotion. Allow them time to practise different ways of saying their line(s).

Years 5 – 6

Writing challenge

Children write their own reverse/palindrome poem. They can do this on their own by simply thinking of a subject which can be looked at in two different ways and experimenting with writing about it.

Your free, printable word-search puzzles and writing template

These free, printable word-search puzzles for kids are great for building and reinforcing the vocabulary used when discussing Refugees. They’re especially helpful for EAL/D students.

There are three different puzzles in this file to enable you to differentiate the activity according to the learning needs of your students.

Download and print our free writing template for use with the picture book Refugees here (PDF).

a flamboyance of flamingos
my name is not refugee
pandemic
bee & me
lest we forget
newton and me