Lesson plans for ages 9-11 in Art: A Response Through Artwork

Teaching Tools, 7 April 2007

© UNHCR/J.Redden
A child amid the painted suitcases that were produced in an art therapy project for refugee children in South Africa. The cases are pictured in a new book in which the children tell of their lives in words and pictures.

INTRODUCTION

More than half of the world's refugees are children. During refugee emergencies, they are often the hardest hit for they are the most vulnerable. It is very difficult for refugee children to deal with the emotional horrors they have experienced. Many find it hard to express in words how they feel, and are reluctant to discuss, often withdrawing into themselves and refusing to reply to questions. However, in some of the refugee camps, the children have been given paints and some have received simple art lessons. These refugee children have found it less disturbing to relive their memories through painting, using artwork as a means of expression.

In this unit, students will be introduced to some pieces of artwork produced by refugee children. They will find that the refugee children, like children all over the world, draw and paint what they see, what is around them. Thus the subject matter of their drawings often deals with flight, death, and the visible consequences of violent and armed conflict.

One of the main objectives of these lessons is to encourage young students to empathise with the refugee children who, through their refugee experience, have lost much of the spontaneous joy and innocence of their childhood.