Illustrating Refugee Experiences for KS2

Using illustration for teaching and learning about refugee experiences.

These five unique resources enable teachers to approach the topic of the refugee crisis in the Key Stage 2 classroom.

It’s become more important than ever that students learn about the human experience of asylum seekers behind the headlines, and these activities are carefully designed to help you do this.

Each one includes step-by-step instructions and examples, and there’s also a pack of teachers’ notes and a gallery of artwork from our 2018 exhibition Journeys Drawn: Illustration from the Refugee Crisis.

The Gallery

This shows work from ten contemporary illustrators, all using illustration to communicate refugees’ experiences to different audiences. Use the gallery to introduce the topic and start discussions with your class about the subject matter and about illustration as a visual language.

Teachers' Notes

These have been written to help guide you through tackling the topic and using the resources, with additional links to further resources. We recommend you read the teachers’ notes before beginning the topic.

The Activities

Each activity deals with a different aspect of the refugee experience and provides step-by-step instructions and examples for an illustration activity using a variety of basic materials.  You could just choose to use one, or use all five and there is no set order to do them in, although activities 1 and 2 are good for introducing the topic. Some are more complex than others; have a look and see what’s right for your class.

Activity 1 - Journeys Drawn

In this activity you will explore the different journeys made by refugees. Taking inspiration from Ghaith Abdul-Ahad, Kate Evans and David Foldvari, children will work with drawing materials to create individual parts of a myriorama (a set of cards which can be arranged in any order to create different visual narratives) of an endless journey.

Activity 2 - The Big Picture

In this activity you will begin to explore a big topic by focusing on small details. Taking inspiration from Toby Morison, children will create individual watercolour tiles which together form a class display that's ideal for generating discussion.

Activity 3 - Life in a Refugee Camp

In this activity you will explore life in refugee camps to think about things that all humans need. Taking inspiration from Kate Evans and Olivier Kugler, children will work with collage to develop symbols for an infographic to communicate these needs.

Activity 4 - Portrait of a Refugee

In this activity you will explore refugee identity. Taking inspiration from Olivier Kugler, children will work with words and pictures to create their own imagined portrait of a refugee.

Activity 5 - Emotional Connections

In this activity you will explore emotions and how illustrations express them. Taking inspiration from David Foldvari, Asia Alfasi and Kate Evans, children will think about the different emotions refugees experience and create images to visually express an emotion of their choice.

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