Students & Teachers

Mine Action in the Classroom

Educators that have tackled the issue of landmines in the classroom recommend being well prepared and ready to answer lots questions. Rebecca-Ho Foster, an elementary school teacher and former Youth Mine Ambassador for Ottawa Ontario, tells the story of her all-time favourite discussion about landmines with a grade four class:

I was asked how much weight it takes to set off a landmine, so I said a few pounds. I was then asked if a kitten would set one off…and the suggestions started flying – a grasshopper? a snowflake? It was really great. Their minds were really working; they were thinking and wondering about the issue.

Be ready for students to want to take action on this issue. Experiences of past global educators show that students’ ideas on this issue take on a life of their own from making slide shows with music, to awareness banners, from fundraisers to demine land or to help survivors, to lobbying government officials.

Through proper education and awareness, we can all contribute to help eliminate landmines. It is up to us and to our children to make this generation the last in the world to walk with fear.


Why Does Canada Have a Landmine Foundation? Humanitarianism and the Movement to Ban Landmines

Antipersonnel Landmines: A Weapon of Mass Destruction in Slow Motion

A Brief History of Landmines: Pre-Modern Uses

Class Activities

Activity 1: “I Thought We Could Play Here”

Reprinted with permission from the Canadian Red Cross’ Survive the Peace

All levels, 10 minutes


Set up several areas of the school or yard with reflective tape and “Danger: Landmines” signs. Make sure that these are places where students normally walk, gather, or play. Observe how students react to notices. Discuss the difficulties caused by “shrinking” travel routes and recreation/play areas.

A complimentary activity could be setting out everyday objects – pop can, child’s toy, pencil box, a ball…anything that students might be curious about before they arrive. They would then see these objects, perhaps be curious, and touch or move them. You could also “booby trap” desks with coloured stickers or place them on heavily-used areas of the floor.

Facilitator Debriefing Prompts:

  • Ask how many people handled the objects. They could easily have been mines.
  • Why would children in mine-affected countries pick up unusual plastic or metal objects? (Most toys are home-made from natural materials, many children work in fields.)
  • Why would adults pick them up? (unaware of danger, selling scrap metal)
  • Imagine how it must be for children in a community full of landmines, always having to be on guard.

Activity 2: “Just Try One Morning”

Reprinted with permission from the Canadian Red Cross’ Survive the Peace

Grades 1-6, 20 minutes*


Students are informed that they will start the day at school by trying to identify and empathize with landmine victims. About 28% of mine victims lose one or both legs.

Students are given ropes or scarves which they use to tie their legs together at ankle level; or to immobilize one leg somehow. Other students are instructed to tie up one arm, go blindfolded or block up their ears to simulate the loss of an arm, eyesight and hearing. They then have to continue through their normal *morning activities with their sudden disability. After some significant time, discuss together the difficulties faced.

*This activity could be done for just a few minutes as well.

Facilitator Debriefing Prompts:

  • Compare and contrast the activities of a North American child or adolescent with those from developing countries, where most mine victims live.
  • How would farming, wood gathering, water collection, etc. be with only one leg or one arm?; without sign or hearing? Students could be asked to reflect on their morning experience.
  • If you lost a leg or arm suddently, how difficult would it be for you to re-learn everyday tasks and activities? What would happen if you family was not able to afford an artificial limb?
  • How might this disability affect the future of a landmine victim?
  • Sarajevo, Yugoslavia was a modern European city, not unlike Canadian [and American] cities in many ways. Yet, during the war of the early 1990s, Sarajevo became infested with landmines. Try to imagine your city or town during a war. Where do you think landmines might be laid? Which parts of your community might become dangerous?

Activity 3: “Ideal City”

Noelle DePape, former Youth Mine Ambassador, Winnipeg

All ages, 20-30 minutes


Provide students with a large piece of paper and markers. Depending on the size, you may need to divide the group into two or more and have each group complete the task. Ask them to design their ideal city.

Depending on the level of the group, you may need to remind them not to forget the things a city needs: water, hospitals, housing, etc. Give them 10-15 minutes to complete the task.

Place “landmines” (perhaps pennies or red stickers) all over their city. For a variation, let each group strategically plant landmines on the other’s territory. For another variation, you may already have mines drawn on a piece of paper the same size as their city. Place the city over the mines paper and show the students that their city was mined (this variation brings in the idea of mines being hidden).

Facilitator Debriefing Prompts:

  • How do people feel when their city is mined?
  • How have their lives changed?
  • Talk about places that are best to mine
  • How many mines would it need to keep people away from a certain location (one, or none if people think there is one there, remember they are hidden.)
  • What was the impact of having another city or country come in and mine your city?