I. Alberta Curriculum

The Learn Alberta, Programs of Study, Social Studies K-Grade 12 provides the following overview, rationale and terms and concepts for the Grade 5 curriculum:[1]

Canada: The Land, Histories & Stories 

Grade 5 students will examine how the ways of life of peoples in Canada are integral to Canadian culture and identity. They will explore the geographic vastness of Canada and the relationships between the land, places and people. As they reflect upon the stories of diverse Aboriginal, French, British and immigrant experiences in Canada over time, students will develop a sense of place and an awareness of how these multiple stories contribute to students' sense of citizenship and identity.

Grade 5 students will be provided with opportunities to explore how the diversity of stories and experiences, and the vastness of Canada, affect citizenship and identity in the Canadian context.

Terms and Concepts: Aboriginal, anthropology, archaeology, Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, Confederation, coureurs des bois, cultural heritage, demographics, Elder, First Nations, Francophone, fur trade, Great Depression, Great Migration, habitants, immigration, industrialization, Inuit, Métis, New France, reserve, seigneurial system, treaties, voyageurs

General Outcome 5.1 Physical Geography of Canada
Students will demonstrate an understanding and appreciation of how the physical geography and natural resources of Canada affect the quality of life of all Canadians.

General Outcome 5.2 Histories and Stories of Ways of Life in Canada
Students will demonstrate an understanding of the people and the stories of Canada and their ways of life over time and appreciate the diversity of Canada's heritage.

General Outcome 5.3 Canada: Shaping an identity
Students will demonstrate an understanding of the events and factors that have changed the ways of life in Canada over time and appreciate the impact of these changes on citizenship and identity.


II. Application of Rights in Play Guide to Grade 5 Curriculum

The following Rights in Play Guide topics are recommended for the Grade 5 curriculum: Your Rights, Celebrating Diversity, Conflict Resolution, and Communication and Cooperation.

Learning about human rights under the Your Rights topic will help students develop knowledge and an understanding of the things that all humans need to live successful happy lives and learning about the human rights of children and others also lends itself to understanding and appreciating diversity.

An important element in the Grade 5 curriculum is examining the stories and experiences of Aboriginal, French, English and immigrant communities throughout Canada’s history. The Celebrating Diversity topic helps students appreciate the qualities that make them and other groups of people unique and special individuals, while also appreciating the qualities that connect them with those around them and around the globe.

Part of the study of different Canadian communities includes an understanding of how those communities dealt with conflict amongst themselves and with other groups. Understanding and practicing conflict resolution through the games under the Conflict Resolution topics will help students better understand the importance of conflict resolution and how to practice it.

The study of the stories and experiences of different Canadian communities includes an understanding of how they communicated and cooperated with one another and other communities. Through the games under the Communication and Cooperation topic, students will develop a better understanding of the importance of communication and cooperation within and between communities.


III. Grade 5 Example Sessions


Game Name: Suitcase of Rights[2]  

Length: 30 minutes

Curriculum Ties: 5.3 Canada: Shaping an identity

Purpose: This game encourages participants to consider the Convention on the Rights of the Child and apply this to their own lives. Participants will also think about which rights are most important to them.


  • A copy of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) (see Appendix A) and the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) (see Appendix B).

  • Enough small backpacks for each team of 4-6 participants (the bags must be small enough that they will NOT hold all of the items below).

  • Set of suitcase of rights cards, or copies of the UDHR for each team.

  • If using backpacks, use the following items:

    • A ball labelled The right to play.

    • A fake passport or birth certificate labelled The right to a name and an identity, the right to belong to a country.

    • A microphone labelled The right to express yourself, and to have adults listen to you.

    • A box of bandages labeled The right to be strong and healthy, the right to have access to medical help.

    • A bottle of water and a piece of fruit labelled The right to food and clean water.

    • A newspaper or magazine labeled The right to information.

    • A box of chalk labelled The right to an education.

    • Several dolls with different costumes or religious symbols labelled The right to choose your own religion and to know your own culture.

Educator’s Background Information: Before the session, review the background information on fundamental United Nations and Canadian human rights laws in Appendix D.


  • If the participants are unfamiliar with rights, begin by explaining what rights are. Tell the group about the CRC.

  • Place children in groups of 4-6.

  • Tell the children to imagine that there has been a human rights problem in their area. They have decided to leave, and they have to do so quickly. They have been told to pack their bags for a new country. Since they will have to travel far, they can only take what will fit in their backpacks. The group’s job is to decide, as a team, which rights they will fit in their bags and which they will leave behind.

  • Give each team a backpack and the items listed above if playing that variation. If playing with rights cards, give each team a set of cards to choose from, similar to the Rainbow of Rights cards. If playing with copies of the UDHR, give each team a simplified version of the document. Tell groups they have 5 minutes to decide what they will take and what they will leave behind, and to pack their bag. You can tell teams they can choose their top 8 rights to start and then eliminate rights until you are down to the top 3 or top 1.

  • If the group seems restless, have them finish this game by running a relay race similar to the one described in Rainbow of Rights. 

Debrief with Students:

  • Begin by asking each group which right is most important to them. If they cannot choose, have them decide what they chose as their most important rights in the game. Why are they the most important rights?

  • Why did groups choose not to pack the rights they left behind?

  • Have participants imagine what it would be like if they did not have the rights they left behind. Have a few participants share their vision of what their world would be like without these rights.

  • How hard was it to decide as a team which rights to pack? Were there different values or ideas that came into conflict? Did people feel differently about what was most important or least important? Was there agreement on certain rights?

  • Discuss the connection between basic human needs and rights. Often rights protect those human needs. Have the group connect some of the rights in front of them with human needs.


Game Name: The Amoeba Race[3]

Length: 30 minutes

Curriculum Ties: 5.3 Canada: Shaping an identity

Purpose: This game demonstrates the idea that people have different strengths and can come together to use each person’s individual strengths to achieve a goal. It builds cooperation between participants and shows how important it is to respect both similarities and differences.

Resources: A large open space, a group of at least 15 participants.

Educator’s Background Information: Before the session, review the background information on diversity in Appendix E.


  • Explain to the group that an amoeba is a single celled organism made up of a nucleus (the control centre), cell wall (barrier to the outside world), and cytoplasm (the body of the cell). Tell the participants that they are going to make their own amoeba.

  • Begin by assigning positions. One person will be the nucleus, many people will be the cytoplasm, and enough people to go around the whole group will be part of the cell wall.

  • Tell the different cell parts about their traits. The nucleus acts as the eyes of the cell and is responsible for directing it; the cytoplasm must be comfortable squishing very close together to make up the body of the cell; and the cell wall must be strong and rigid to act as a barrier to keep the cell together.

  • Now that the participants know their jobs, have them form a cell with the wall around it and the nucleus at the front on someone’s shoulders (or alternatively in the centre).

  • Ask them to try to move around together as a cell. Try timing their “sprints”.

Debrief with Students:

  • How did it feel when you were assigned a role? Did you like your role? Did you like being part of the majority? The minority?

  • Was it hard to co-ordinate at first? Was it difficult to coordinate everyone’s individual goals to achieve the group’s goal? What made it easier?

  • If all of the people in your group had the same position (for example, all cytoplasm) would the game have been harder/easier? Would it have been more/less fun? Would it have been harder/easier to stay together or direct yourself as an amoeba? 


Game Name: 5 Pictures[4]

Length: 30 minutes

Curriculum Ties: 5.2 Histories and Stories of Ways of Life in Canada

Purpose: This game allows participants to work creatively through a problem as a team. It offers an alternative to the traditional role-play.

Resources: Nothing specific is required, although teams may be permitted to use the objects around them as props if they wish.

Educator’s Background Information:  Before the session, review the background information for educators on conflict resolution in Appendix G.


  • This game can be used to complement any section of this activity book. Often, it can be used by a skilled facilitator as an impromptu way of dealing with a problem or issue that has surfaced during a presentation, such as bullying, discrimination, something the participants have seen in the news, etc. It is up to the facilitator to pick a problem that can be dealt with using the five pictures.

  • Some sample situations could involve: bullying that occurs on the school playground, discrimination towards a new student in the class who is from overseas, a child who sacrifices school to partake in laborious work in a developing country, etc.

  • Divide the group into teams of 4-6 members.

  • Give them each a problem that they must act out. They can all be given different problems, or it can be interesting to give them the same problem if there are only 3 or 4 teams. Each team will interpret it differently.

  • Tell the teams that they have 10-15 minutes to create 5 different pictures that depict how the problem developed, the problem, what could happen if the problem is not dealt with properly, one or several solutions to the problem. They have complete flexibility to decide what they want each picture to reflect, but they have only 5 pictures with which to create their message.

  • The pictures are still tableaus. Each participant takes up one position and maintains it long enough for the audience to get a sense of the whole picture.

  • Groups may have a narrator who interprets each tableau, or they may choose to enact their situation silently and then discuss it with the audience after they are done.

  • After 10-15 minutes of planning, each group returns to the presentation area. Each group takes a turn presenting their 5 pictures. Each explains what the problem was as they saw it, how they interpreted it and how they resolved it.

Debrief with Students:

  • Discussion can be done either after each individual presentation or after all the presentations. The nature of the discussion will vary greatly depending on the problems that were depicted.

  • Relate the 5 pictures to human rights using the human rights documents found in Appendix A and Appendix B.


Game Name: Active Listening[5]

Length: 30 minutes

Curriculum Ties: 5.2 Histories and Stories of Ways of Life in Canada

Purpose: This listening activity helps participants to improve their listening skills, to think about what makes “good” and “bad” listening and why some conflicts or misunderstandings arise.

Resources: One copy of “What helps us to listen?” and “What prevents us from listening?” from the next pages.

Educator’s Background Information: Before the session, review the background information for educators on communication and cooperation in Appendix H.


  • Form the group into pairs.

  • Explain that in a moment one person in each pair will have to speak without stopping while the other person listens as carefully as they can. The speakers can speak about anything they want. For example, the speakers can talk about themselves, their family, or an interesting experience.

  • Allow a moment for the pairs to decide who will talk and who will listen.

  • Give the signal for the speakers to begin speaking.

  • Allow the speakers a minute or two of uninterrupted speech. Then, before they begin to run out of things to say, clap your hands and ask them to stop.

  • Ask the listeners to repeat back to their partner the last two sentences that person said. This request is usually a big surprise - few people will be able to remember the two sentences perfectly!

  • The pairs exchange roles, the listener now speaks and the speaker listens.

  • After a couple of minutes, stop the speakers again. It is likely that the listeners this time will have been listening more carefully - so ask them to repeat the last THREE sentences which their partner said! 

Variations: If you wish, you can continue the game, maybe swapping partners or increasing the number of sentences that the listener must remember each time. It can be fun to repeat the game, making it harder every time. If you repeat the game, over several days or weeks, the students can see their listening improve.

Use the questions below to draw out learning points.

What prevents us from listening?

  • On-off Listening - People think faster than they talk. This means that when you listen to someone, you have a lot of spare time for thinking. Often, we use this time to think about lunch, or what we did last night, instead of thinking about what the other per­son is saying!

  • Prejudiced Listening - In every part of the world, there are words or phrases which cause people to stop listening. Words like “capitalist”, “communist”, and “fundamentalist” are examples. When people hear these words, they stop listening and start to plan their defence, or a counter-attack.

  • Closed-Minded Listening - Sometimes, we decide quickly that the person or the subject is boring, wrong, or not relevant, or that we know what the speaker is going to say. Then we stop listening.

  • Distracted Listening - Noise, lights, temperature, other things in the room, or what you ate for break­fast can all prevent us from listening to what people are saying. However, with practice, we can still listen well in these circumstances.

What helps us to listen?

  • We listen with our bodies as well as with our minds:

    • Face the speaker.

    • Have good eye contact.

    • Have an open posture (don’t fold your arms, turn your back, etc.).

    • Lean towards the speaker.

    • Relax.

  • Listen to what is being said.

    • Listen for the central theme, not just the facts.

    • Keep an open mind.

    • Think ahead.

    • Analyze and evaluate.

    • Don’t interrupt.

  • Listen to how it is being said.

    • Non-verbal signs (e.g., facial expressions, body posture, etc.).

    • Tone of voice.

  • Listening is important because:

    • It shows people that you value their experience and what they say.

    • It encourages people to talk honestly and freely.

    • It can help you to identify areas where people agree or disagree and helps you to think of solutions to these disagreements.[6]

 Debrief with Students:

  • Could you remember the sentences?

  • Was it easier to remember them the second time? Why?

  • What did you do to help you to listen? Did you do anything special with your body? Or with your face? What about your mind?

  • What prevented you from listening?

  • Now show the class the information in the boxes “What helps us to listen?” and “What prevents us from listening?” from the next pages. Is there anything in these boxes which they did not think of? Why?

  • Listening is an important skill for respecting and protecting human rights. It is especially important for Article 12 of the Convention on the Rights of the Child (Appendix B) and Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (Appendix A), but also for all of the other Articles. Why is this so? What do we gain from listening to each other? Have you ever been in a situation where no one would listen to you? How do we feel when our opinion is ignored? Do you agree with the idea that we can improve our listening skills by practicing