Twinkl Education Blog
8 Mar '17

Five Ways to Engage Kids With Global Issues...

This is a guest post written by our friends at Oxfam Education

...and have fun at the same time!

You don't need to be an expert in global issues to get your pupils understand their world and make a positive difference in it. Here are some great tips to help you get started with global citizenship, adapted from Oxfam's Global Citizenship in the Classroom: A Guide for Teachers.

Asking questions

Identifying key questions can be a great way to structure conversations about complicated issues. And when children are able to generate their own questions they can take even greater ownership of their learning.

Sometimes as a teacher we feel we need to have all the answers, but it can often be more powerful to bounce a question back, and ask 'why is that?' A why-why-why chain is a brilliant way to unpick complex issues simply by repeating the question 'why?'.

Global issues

It works best in small groups, but can be done as a class activity. Start with an issue such as 'why do people move to the UK?' then ask the group to think of all the direct reasons they can think of. Then unpack each one, asking learners to think of all the reasons behind the first set. Repeat until the process has gone as far as it can to reveal the complexity of the issue.

Making connections

Exploring complex global issues is all about making connections. This can mean thinking about things we all need, like clean water, or the thinks we all share, like the environment. We can draw out the links between issues that affect people both locally and globally, and make parallels with what happens in our everyday lives, such as conflict.

Martin Luther King famously once said 'before you finish eating breakfast in the morning you've depended on more than half the world'.  Use the everyday as an opportunity to explore how interconnected we all are, and how what happens on one side of the world can impact people on the other.

global issues oxfam

Globingo! is a fun starter activity to explore some of the ways our daily lives are connected to what happens in other countries- from the food we eat to the clothes we wear. The aim of Globingo is for learners to interact with each other to 'find someone in the room who...' and complete the question sheet as quickly as possible. There are lots of versions of this activity available online - or you can adapt these to create your own.

Exploring views

We all see the world differently, and have different perspectives. When exploring an issue it's important everyone has a chance to contribute in a way that respects others and helps us to all challenge the way we think. Sometimes it can be helpful for children to draw up their own ground rules for doing this. Role-play is also a great device for helping learners to see things from someone else's point of view.

You could try an 'opinion continuum' to see where your class stand on an issue. Draw a real or imaginary line from end of the room to the other, from 'totally agree' to 'totally disagree'. Pupils can place themselves along the line. By discussing their reasons for doing so, some may choose to change their position, or be able to influence others.


After teaching about an issue, get kids into groups to reflect and respond. Get them thinking about a question like 'why (this issue) is important to me' or 'how I feel about (this challenge)'. Ask them to discuss and present back in a creative way like a poster, acting out a news report, writing a poem or interviewing one another. Or a combination of these, but give them a time limit for their presentation such as 1 minute!


Exploring big issues can make us feel small, and that there is little we can do to change things. It is important young people are given the opportunity to have an impact.

Dressed by the Kids Day is a time to get seriously silly- have fun and raise money that will have an impact for those living in poverty. You can also encourage learners to think of other ways they can make a difference. Sometimes the biggest impact we can have is to change someone else's point of view.

To extend learning and fundraising activities, your learners could think about how they could get their thoughts and messages out to other people. For example they could choose peers in other classes, teachers, parents or their wider community.

Ask them to think about what they enjoy doing, and what they feel they are good at- whether this is art, music or dancing- and how this could add to what they are saying.

Remind them to think about what their intended audience would already know, and what they wouldn't. And what might appeal to them- for example would they respond best to a story, facts, or pictures?

But most of all, remind them that they have a voice, and what they think and what they have to say on global issues is important. Have fun!



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