Compasito - Manual on Human Rights Education for Children
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Activities on same themes
Discrimination General Human Rights Media and Internet
Summary of activities
Human Rights calendar

20. Picture Games

A picture says a thousand words – and more!

Themes Discrimination, General human rights, Media and Internet

Level of complexity Level 2

Age 8-13 years

Duration 30 minutes

Group size 2-20 children

Type of activity Playing with pictures

Overview Children work with images to explore stereotypes, different perspectives, and how images inform and misinform.

Objectives • To raise awareness of human rights in everyday life
• To develop ‘visual literacy’, listening and communication skills
• To promote empathy and respect for human dignity

Source: Adapted from Compass: A Manual on Human rights education with Young People (Council of Europe, 2002), p. 192.

In this activity you will find three different ideas on how to work with pictures on various human rights themes. Try the one that suits your group of children best.

20a. Part of the Picture

Overview Children draw conclusions about only part of a picture, then see the whole picture.

Preparation • Find pictures that tell a simple story concerning poverty or an adequate standard of living. Mount pictures on cardboard and cut them into two parts so that the separate pieces suggest a different situation from the whole picture.
• Put the picture sets in separate envelopes, one set per child.

Materials • Pictures
• Cardboard and glue
• Envelopes
• Cartoon book downloaded from COE website


  1. Divide children into pairs. Give each pair two envelopes containing a picture set.
  2. Explain the activity:
    • One child opens an envelope and gives the partner one piece of the picture inside.
    • Let your partner say what they think is going on in the picture (e.g. who is in the picture, what is happening).
    • Ask your partner if the picture relates to a human right.
    • Then give your partner the second piece and ask them what they think is happening now that they have the full picture.
    • Does the complete picture relate to a human right?
    • Reverse roles.

Debriefing and Evaluation

  1. Debrief the activity by asking question such as these:
    • Did anything in this activity surprise you?
    • How did the picture change when you got the second piece?
    • What rights is the complete picture is conveying?
  2. Relate the activity to perception by asking question such as these?
    • Can you think of other situations where it’s easy to get the wrong idea because you see or hear only part of the situation?
    • How often do people accept what they see and forget that it may not be the ‘whole story’?

Tips for the facilitator

  • You can use this activity as an icebreaker.
  • Variations:
  • Develop the activity further by having one pair swap pictures with another pair and repeating the activity. Do people find it easier the second time round? Or is it more challenging? Why?
  • Give the same pictures to two pairs. Then ask them to join in a group of four to compare their answers.
  • Use newspaper photographs, evaluating the picture and then reading the article illustrated by the photograph.

20b. Captions

Overview Children make captions for a group of pictures, then compare their different impressions.

Preparation • Select and number 8-10 interesting pictures
• Make a work sheet divided into as many strips as you have pictures

Materials • Numbered pictures
• Work sheet, paper and a pen for each pair
• Glue or tape and scissors for each pair


  1. Lay the pictures out on a table. Divide the children into pairs and ask them to write captions for each of the pictures. Encourage them to write neatly because others will read what they write.
  2. When everyone has finished, hold up the pictures in turn and ask volunteers to read out their captions.
  3. Mount each picture on a sheet of paper or bulletin board and ask the children to glue or tape their captions under the picture to make a ‘poster’.

Debriefing and Evaluation

  1. Debrief the activity by asking questions such as these:
    • Was it difficult to write the captions? Why or why not?
    • What makes a good caption?
    • If a picture is worth a thousand words, why do they need captions?
  2. Relate the activity to diversity by asking questions such as these:
    • Were there big differences in the way people interpreted the picture? Why?
    • Did you think any of your captions were wrong?
    • Why is it good to have different interpretations of the same thing?

Tips for the facilitator

  • Look for pictures that are both interesting and diverse, perhaps also ambiguous about what is going on.
  • Use coloured paper and pens to make the posters more attractive.

20c. Speech Bubbles

Overview Children analyse pictures and give the characters cartoon speech bubbles, then they compare their impressions.

Preparation • Copy pictures: 2 or more pairs should get the same picture. You can use the illustrations of the human rights themes in Chapter V..
• Make a work sheet with these questions: Who? What? Where? When? How?

Materials • Work sheet, paper and pen for each pair
• Glue


  1. Divide the children into pairs. Give each pair a picture, worksheet, paper, pen and glue.
  2. Give the children these instructions:
    • Look at the picture and answer these questions about it on the worksheet: Who? What? Where? When? How?
    • Then glue the picture onto the worksheet.
    • Make speech bubbles for the characters in the picture to say something, and write in what they are saying.
  3. Ask the pairs to post their pictures on the wall, placing the same pictures side by side for comparison. Ask the children to look at all the pictures and read their speech bubbles.

Debriefing and Evaluation

  1. Debrief the activity by asking question such as these:
    • How hard was it to answer the questions about the pictures? To write speech bubbles?
    • How did your analysis of the same picture compare with the analysis of the other pair?
    • What stereotypes did people find in the pictures? In the speech bubbles?

Tips for facilitators

In addition to pictures of people, use some with animals. This can be effective in discussing stereotypes. Start out by pointing out how often animals are cast as stereotypes in cartoons and then get the group to look for examples of stereotyping in their pictures and speech bubbles.