The Alberta Civil Liberties Research Centre (ACLRC) seeks to contribute to a more just and inclusive Alberta community by providing research and education that promotes respect for civil liberties and human rights. Through our Human Rights Education Program, the ACLRC works with Alberta schools to teach students about human rights by providing free online materials for teachers as well as presentations and workshops on a variety of human rights topics. The Program has historically been offered to secondary school students. Human Rights in the Kindergarten and Elementary School Classroom expands our Human Rights Education Program to include students from Kindergarten to grade six (K-6).         

This resource is designed to complement the Alberta K-6 Social Studies curriculum and suggests and discusses where human rights topics can be explored in the classroom in conjunction with the curriculum. Learning about human rights will not only complement the information students will already be learning in the classroom but will also provide students with the insight and tools to understand their space within the world, our country and their communities. Understanding the importance of the rights and responsibilities we have as humans will equip children with the tools to stand up for themselves and others, promote respect and equality and become leaders in their schools and communities.

The John Humphrey Centre has generously given the ACLRC permission to use their resource, Rights in Play—A Practical Guide to Human Rights Education (Rights in Play Guide)[1] to be utilized as part of this resource. The John Humphries Centre is a non-profit organization that has been active in promoting peace and human rights since 1998. The Centre expresses its mission as “advancing a culture of peace and human rights through education and community building guided by the principles of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.”[2] The Centre provides several human rights educational resources and offers human rights training for children, employers and the public. The Rights in Play Guide provides information on different human rights topics and classroom games to engage students in learning. It covers a range of topics and provides educators with background information to help facilitate their teaching.

The resource itself has an emphasis on experiential learning, where participants will be active in the learning process. The John Humphrey Centre believes that “[t]rue learning comes through experience and engagement with others which is why [their] approach to educational programming is specifically designed to empower participants to build their active voice and citizenship and to apply their learning to address needs they identify in their community.”[3]

In this resource, each grade is focused upon separately in order to examine the specific curriculum of that grade and to suggest the Rights in Play Guide modules that best complement that curriculum. For each grade, this resource sets out the areas of instruction in the Alberta curricula that will best accommodate human rights learning; suggested topics in the Rights in Play Guide that best complement the curricula; a brief explanation of why the Rights in Play Guide topics are matched with the curricula; and example human rights sessions that could be used to teach specific human rights topics within the curricula. Each example session includes suggested Rights in Play games/activities that can be used to convey the human rights topics to be covered; where the human rights topics link to the curriculum for each level; the purpose of and required resources for the games/activities; background information for educators explaining the information, themes and ideas that will be explored; and discussion questions to debrief the students on human rights lessons learned through their participation in the games/activities.

Educators can adapt the content and length of each example session to accommodate the needs and interests of the students. We suggest 30-minute sessions for students in Kindergarten to Grade 2 and 30 to 60-minute sessions for students in Grades 3 to 6. This resource provides 30-minute example sessions for each grade level, however more exercises from the specific Rights in Play Guide topics may be added, if desired.