How can you address bullying in the classroom?

bullying-prevention-programs-UNICEFTeachers know that bullying doesn’t just spontaneously happen. Key elements can create a culture that either builds a caring, compassionate and rights-respecting environment that discourages bullying behavior or one that allows bullying to occur.

Paula Gallo at UNICEF Canada has written about how you can create a classroom environment that sets kids up for success.

Read how these 4 steps can help on the Scholar’s Choice Blog: 


Celebrate National Child Day!

Today is National Child Day!  It’s the time to take action to promote the rights and well-being of children in Canada and around the world. To mark National Child Day, UNICEF Canada launched “Bring your MP to School Day” and united young people from across the country with their Members of Parliament.  During the week of November 12-16, MPs visited schools in their ridings to meet with the young leaders of tomorrow and learn more about what matters to them.

“Bring your MP to School Day” was a great success!

Schools from all over Canada participated in “Bring your MP to School Day.” No child was too far to be heard.  Their voices, concerns and interests received meaningful attention from Parliamentarians. Students discussed and asked questions on a wide-range of issues including the role of a MP, poverty, bullying, international development and the environment.

The link between MPs and their constituents is at the core of the representative function of Parliament. Engaging with children and youth – generally a quarter of the population – helps inform decisions that affect this vulnerable but non-voting population, and advances the civic education of Canada’s youngest citizens.

Help us celebrate National Child Day!

Learn more. Read about National Child Day and the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child at

Today is World Teacher’s Day

This amazing day recognizes the incredible work that is done by teachers around the world. The slogan for the day this year is “Take a stand for teachers!” 

As a former secondary school teacher working with three other former educators in UNICEF Canada’s Global Classroom program, I know the importance of supporting teachers in all the wonderful work they do with children and young people, from providing them with key skills and knowledge and empowering them through school and classroom initiatives, to helping them to better understand what it means to be a compassionate and connected global citizen. At an international level, UNICEF ‘takes a stand for teachers’ every day through our teacher training and school-based programs happening in countries from Sri Lanka to Macedonia to Malawi.

Here in Canada we work hand in hand with teachers, and on a daily basis we are reminded that our teachers are a creative and imaginative group, working hard to create a supportive, rights respecting and fun environment in their classrooms. We believe in building on the recommendations and suggestions from teachers in countries around the world. Taking inspiration from the Child Friendly School model and its teacher friendly and collaborative framework, we are now working in a similarly collaborative and teacher-driven way in Canada through our Rights Respecting Schools Initiative.

This initiative supports teachers in the amazing work that they are already doing in schools, and helps them to build on the successes and positive approaches that work towards the belief that schools should operate in the best interests of the child. Teachers are piloting this approach in a variety of creative ways, and they are working with us to develop an inclusive, participatory and respectful school culture for children and adults.

As one of the teachers in our very first Rights Respecting School in British Columbia stated, “When children know their rights it empowers them to make a difference in their community. They become leaders. They end up becoming more responsible for their actions for leadership, friendship, and in relationships. They’re not so much me-centered. It all comes from kids knowing they have rights.”

Really, what more could you ask for?

It’s Back To School We Go

Looking for a beautifully illustrated text to welcome your students back to school while teaching them about the world?  Check out It’s Back to School We Go! First Day Stories From Around the World, written by Ellen Jackson.  This text is ideal for primary and junior students, and invites children to consider the similarities and differences of the back to school experience through the eyes of children in Canada, United States, Peru, Germany, Kenya, Kazakhstan, India, China, Russia, Japan, and Australia.  Children will be excited to explore and inquire about the lives of these children, and can make connections about their related experiences.  Image

The Great Big Book of Families

Written by Mary Hoffman and illustrated by Ros Asquith

Curriculum Connections:
This resource will help primary students to extend their understanding of texts by connecting the ideas in the text to their own knowledge and experience and to the world around them. It will challenge students to express their own personal thoughts and feelings about what has been read, and to think critically about their perspectives of what constitutes a family.

Kindergarten Personal and social development: children are connected to others and contribute to their world; children have a strong sense of identity and well being

Grades 1 – 3 Language: foundational knowledge such as oral language, prior knowledge and experience, understanding, higher-order thinking skills, and capacity for metacognition.

Art: Exploration of art in the world around them, to understand that people all over the world create and enjoy art, and to develop the ability to communicate about their immediate environment and interests through visual images.

Text Overview:
The book The Great Big Book of Families by Mary Hoffman is a beautifully illustrated depiction of all kinds of families and their lives together. Hoffman celebrates the diversity of family compositions by describing different family sizes, different homes, ways to go to school, different ways in which parents work, different foods that these families eat and much more. With a wide variety of families included in this treasury, all children can see parts of themselves represented in this book.

Lesson Plan:
After reading this book, students can draw pictures to represent their family and the class can create their own Great Big Book of Families. This book can also be used as a starting point for students to learn about the life of a family in another part of the world.

Why is The Great Big Book of Families an important Book to Share?
In honor of International Day of Families, The Great Big Book of Families introduces children to different family structures and ways of life, and helps them to appreciate some of the similarities and differences between their family and other families in the world.

Notes from the United Nations on International Day of Families
International Day of Families is observed on the 15th of May every year. The Day was proclaimed by the UN General Assembly resolution in 1993 and reflects the importance the international community attaches to families. The International Day provides an opportunity to promote awareness of issues relating to families and increase the knowledge of the social, economic and demographic processes affecting families.

For more information about the International Day of Families, please visit:

A New Video for Rights Respecting Schools

Image(Click on the image to watch the video)

A systemic approach that works with the entire school community to promote a culture of respect, transforms the teaching and learning environment, and the way the school is administered to include students’ participation in all aspects of the school. This results in less bullying, an improved learning environment and a higher rate of teacher satisfaction.  UNICEF Canada offers free staff training, free material to support the school community to establish a Rights Respecting Committee, free material for the school administrators, teaching guides, website and blog, and a free long term impact assessment which takes place in partnership with PrevNet (PREVNet is a national network of Canadian researchers, non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and governments committed to stop bullying.)


Website Resource: TAKE PART

This website is inspirational for people of all ages, but more appropriate for use in the classroom wImageith junior, intermediate, and senior students.  Here is their mandate, taken directly from the website:

“Well, hello! We’re so glad you wanted to know more about us. Founded in 2008, TakePart is a digital media organization and cause services agency that provides content, products and services that inspire, empower, and ignite people to take daily action in making the world better.”

Check out to find a wealth of media resources to engage your students to think globally!

The Mangrove Tree

Curriculum Connections: communities, living things, plants, habitats, citizenship, character education

Text Overview: This is a true story about the village of Hargigo, which is located by the Red Sea in the African country of Eritrea.  The climate is very hot and dry, and it is difficult for plants to grow with very little rain.  The families and animals do not have enough to eat.  Dr. Gordon Sato is a Japanese-American scientist who started the mangrove tree project.  Mangrove trees grow in salt water.  By planting trees along the sea, people earned money, animals became healthier, and the community had more food to eat.  While creating our beautiful mural, we thought carefully about these questions:

How did the mangrove trees help the community?

 How did the community of Hargigo become more successful?

Why is The Mangrove Tree an important story to share?

By studying this text, students were able to learn scientific concepts about how plants grow in various climates.  They were able to make a real life to connection to a part of the world that is struggling withh drought and famine.  Students were also able to learn about how changes can be made to benefit a community.  Furthermore, they were encouraged to think critically about why this text was created, and the various perspectives that are represented in the story.  A great text for primary and junior students, and art is just fantastic!

Child Safety Online: Challenges and Strategies

As educators, we are responsible for preparing children and youth for the 21st century.  However, as adults we also know that the internet can pose risks to today’s children and youth.

UNICEF’s report, Child Safety Online: global challenges and strategies, released today, reviews global evidence and practice, and answers the questions, “what are the risks to children online?” and “what are the most effective responses to make them safer?” The report exposes myths and provides evidence to equip policymakers, professionals, families and business to respond.

Take some time to review this report to better understand the issues and how we can work together to build a safer environment for young people online.

Human Rights Day – Celebrating Peace, Freedom and Justice

Make Human Rights Day come to life by using one of these resources for thought provoking lesson and dialogue on Human Rights in Canada and the World. 

1. We Are All Born Free, by Amnesty International
2. Every Human Has Rights by National Geographic
3. Tous les humains ont les mêmes droits de Marie-Agnès Combesque et Clotilde Perrin
4. Histoire Les droits de M. Coucou et de Mme Turbine (voir annexe) de Josie-Anne Benny
Web Resources
1. UN Cyber School bus
2. Human Rights Education
3. Play it Fair Toolkit
4. United for Human Rights
Video (French and English available)
The story of Human Rights Video at
Free Posters
Human Rights posters can be ordered by emailing Free for classrooms.

The UNICEF Global Classroom team has added new resources for  Human Rights Day.  Check them out under the Global Citizenship Calendar in Elementary lessons in French and English!