International Peace Day: Activities for the Elementary Classroom

“No peace in the world without peace in the nation,

No peace in the nation without peace in the town,

No peace in the town without peace in the home/school,

No peace in the home without peace in the heart.”

                       Quote by – Tao Te Ching

The International Day of Peace (Peace Day) is observed nationwide on September 21st. Students can use this day as an opportunity to express their visions of peace in the world and among their peers in the classroom.

The United Nations adopted and declared this day a time for global ceasefire and non-violence. The first celebration was in the year 1981. To begin this day, a “peace bell” is rung at the UN headquarters, cast from coins donated by children from all the continents in the world. We are to observe a minute of silence at noon on September 21st as our desire for peace in the world.

At this time engage the kids in a breathing exercise to emphasize this special moment. Chant to the class: “Breathe In World, Breathe Out Peace”!

Activities Across the Curriculum to Emphasize Peace

Simple Dove for Peace  (art)

dove for peace craft

The dove is the universal symbol of peace. Here is a simple flying dove craft to make with your children and decorate the classroom.

You will need:

  • 1 large paper plate (dinner size, and not the foam type)
  • 2 smaller paper plates (dessert size)
  • Yellow construction paper
  • Googly eyes (or black marker)
  • String or yarn
  • Glue

What to do:

  1. Fold the large paper plate in half. Make a tiny hole through the center of the fold and thread a length of string. Secure with a knot. This is the body of your dove.
  2. Cut one of the smaller plates in half. Attach these to the body as wings. Vary the angle of the wings to give the dove dimension.
  3. Cut a segment from the last paper plate to create a tail and glue this inside the folded body and have it extend outwards.
  4. Create a beak from the yellow paper and glue this on the dove’s face. Also, stick on a googly eye (or draw an eye with a black marker).
  5. Hang these in the classroom.

Conflict Can (circle time discussion)

peace symbol

Take an empty coffee can and cover it with construction paper. Have the children cover it with the universal peace symbol (hand-drawn or stickers). The peace symbol originated from flag signals meaning nuclear disarmament. Gerald Holtom designed this symbol in 1958.

Cut a slit in the plastic lid of the can. When problems arise in the classroom, help the children write the issue on a slip of paper and have them drop it into the can. 

At circle time (group time) open the lid and pick out one slip of paper. Read the complaint and work together with the group to brainstorm possible solutions. Use the conflict can daily or weekly to help develop critical thinking skills and problem-solving skills.

PEACE Globe Acrostic Poems

Locate free coloring pages with an Earth (globe) or dove pattern. Write the word PEACE down the page and invite the children to think of words that start with that letter and have meaning to world peace. This poem type does not have to rhyme. Make sure word choices are understood by the child’s grade level.  Then, allow your students to color in their picture. Cut out the photo and glue this onto colorful construction paper.

peace acrostic poem

Here is one example of a simple acrostic poem.

P – patience

E –  earth

A –  acceptance

C –  caring

E –  educate

Make a Peace Chain

  1. Cut strips of construction paper in a variety of colors. Make them all the same width and length.
  2. Ask the children to write their name on the strip along with one thing they could do to bring peace and happiness to the class/home.
  3. Read the promises one-by-one to the class.
  4. When finished, staple each link intertwined with the next loop.
  5. Hopefully, the chain will be long enough to reach across the room. If not, allow the students to make a second link.

Variation: Trace and cut handprints of each child. Write the promises on each handprint and staple these together like a chain.

Read, Sing and Draw

Read the book Imagine by John Lennon to your class. It’s a story about a pigeon that sets out on a journey to spread a message of peace and tolerance around the world. The book follows the lyrics of John Lennon’s (Beatle’s) iconic song and is beautifully illustrated by Jean Jullien (2017).

Imagine all the people living life in peace.
You may say I’m a dreamer, but I’m not the only one.
I hope someday you’ll join us, and the world will be as one.

After reading and singing, encourage the children to draw a picture depicting peace in their own thoughts. Hang all the drawings using a rope and clothespins. It’s an art gallery, but everyone who partakes in this art activity is a winner in this contest!

Sources:

International Day of Peace 

Dove Craft 

Free Earth Coloring Pages

The Art of Peace, First Teacher Magazine, Nov/Dec 1996

Photos courtesy of Tania Cowling, all rights reserved

Imagine by John Lennon, Jean Jullien, 2017, Amazon photo

Feature photo by pixabay.com