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Holiday Bag or Get-Away Bag?

Elementary, Middle


The lives of refugees are very challenging; in searching for safety, they must leave their belongings behind. Holiday Bag or Get-Away Bag provides an opportunity for elementary students to understand the impact that fleeing from a desperate situation would have on someone's life and to empathize with situations that others find themselves in.  Working in small groups, students pack two imaginary suitcases, one for a holiday and the other to get away. Students are asked to share what they have packed and justify their choices. Through classroom discussions, students learn about the difficult decisions which have to be made when packing a suitcase to leave home, not knowing if they will ever return. Classroom discussions introduce students to the importance of birth certificates, school certificates and vaccination cards and the impact on their lives if having to flee tomorrow. As a closing activity, students are given a suitcase template and cut out images from newspapers and magazines to represent their new choices.

General Assessment


  • The activity is age appropriate for the younger students
  • Current local and global issue
  • Background refugee data information for teachers 
  • The resource is very up to date with its background information.
  • The resource is available to download immediately.
  • Well organized, easy to use and supplies all necessary materials.
  • Excellent background information, list of website links 


  • No opportunities for students to share what they have learned with their parents or community.
  • Few assessment methods/rubrics provided
  • The resource lacks a significant action component.
  • Could include guest speakers of different ages for different points of view.

Recommendation of how and where to use it

The classroom discussions with the students in this lesson need to be handled sensitively and with consideration given to students’ backgrounds and experiences. Teachers will want to make the classroom a ‘safe’ place for the students to share their ideas and even experiences. Some students may want to be excused from certain discussions and this should be respected.

Relevant Curriculum Units

The following tool will allow you to explore the relevant curriculum matches for this resource. To start, select a province listed below.

Themes Addressed

Human Rights (2)

  • Refugees and Immigration
  • Social Justice

Sustainability Education Principles

Principle Rating Explanation
Consideration of Alternative Perspectives Good

Students are encouraged to draw their own conclusions based on the information they receive during the classroom discussions. Students are not influenced to any particular point of view.

Consideration of Alternative Perspectives:
  • Satisfactory: absence of bias towards any one point of view
  • Good: students consider different points of view regarding issues, problems discussed
  • Very good: based on the consideration of different views, students form opinions and  take an informed position
Multiple Dimensions of Problems & Solutions Satisfactory

The resource focuses its attention on the social justice aspect of the issue. Teacher could address the environmental and economic dimensions during classroom discussions.

Multiple Dimensions of Problems & Solutions:

Effectively addresses the environmental, economic and social dimensions of the issue(s) being explored.

  • Satisfactory: resource supports the examination of  these dimensions
  • Good:  resource explicitly examines the interplay of these dimensions
  • Very Good:  a systems-thinking approach is encouraged to examine these three dimensions
Respects Complexity Satisfactory

Crises and conflicts force people to leave their homes, villages and towns to seek shelter in other areas - often outside their home country. There are many reasons for this: poverty, injustice and discrimination based on disability, gender, ethnic or social background are among the most common reasons. However, wars and prolonged crises and conflicts are also a huge factor. The resource provides a teacher's introduction to the current issues surrounding migration.

Respects Complexity:

The complexity of the problems/issues being discussed is respected.

Acting on Learning Satisfactory

The resource provides a few suggestions to take action through an extend the learning section.

Acting on Learning:

Learning moves from understanding  issues  to working towards positive change — in personal lifestyle, in school, in the community,  or for the planet

  • Satisfactory: action opportunities are included as extensions 
  • Good: action opportunities are core components of the resource
  • Very Good: action opportunities for students are well supported and intended to result in observable, positive change
Values Education Good

Students are given the opportunity to justify their choices.

Values Education:

Students are explicitly provided with opportunities to identify, clarify and express their own beliefs/values.

Empathy & Respect for Humans Very Good

This age appropriate lesson plan encourages students to understand the impact that fleeing from a desperate situation would have on someone's life and to empathize with situations that others find themselves in.

Empathy & Respect for Humans: Empathy and respect are fostered for diverse groups of humans (including different genders, ethnic groups, sexual preferences, etc.).
Personal Affinity with Earth Poor/Not considered

Not considered in this resource

Personal Affinity with Earth:

Encourages a personal affinity with -the natural world.  

  • Satisfactory: connection is made to the natural world
  • Good: fosters appreciation/concern for the natural world
  • Very Good: fosters stewardship though practical and respectful experiences out-of-doors 
Locally-Focused Learning Good

The refugee issue is a current, global issue. Students participate in an imaginary scenario of having to pack a bag as if they have to flee tomorrow.

Locally-Focused Learning:

Includes learning experiences that take advantage of issues/elements within the local community. 

  • Satisfactory: learning is made relevant to the lives of the learners
  • Good: learning is made relevant and has a local focus
  • Very Good: learning is made relevant, local and takes place ‘outside’ , in the community 
Past, Present & Future Good

The lesson plan introduces students to the current global issue of refugees fleeing their countries while classroom discussions bring up the issue about the impact this would have on their future lives.

Past, Present & Future: Promotes an understanding of the past, a sense of the present, and a positive vision for the future.

Pedagogical Approaches

Principle Rating Explanation
Open-Ended Instruction Very Good

Different points of view are encouraged, there are no correct answers.

Open-Ended Instruction :

Lessons are structured so that multiple/complex answers are possible; students are not steered toward one 'right' answer.

Integrated Learning Poor/Not considered
  • Social Studies
  • English Language Arts
Integrated Learning:

Learning brings together content and skills  from more than one  subject area

  • Satisfactory: content from a number of different  subject areas is readily identifiable
  • Good:  resource is appropriate for use in more than one subject area
  • Very Good:  the lines between subjects are blurred 
Inquiry Learning Satisfactory

The question is teacher directed but students arrive at their own solution.

Inquiry Learning:

Learning is directed by questions, problems, or challenges that students work to address.   

  • Satisfactory: Students are provided with questions/problems to solve and some direction on how to arrive at solutions.
  • Good: students, assisted by the teacher clarify the question(s) to ask and the process to follow to arrive at solutions.  Sometimes referred to as Guided Inquiry
  • Very Good:  students generate the questions and assume much of the responsibility for how to solve them.  . Sometimes referred to as self-directed learning.


Differentiated Instruction Poor/Not considered
Differentiated Instruction:

Activities address a range of student learning styles, abilities and readiness.

  • Satisfactory:  includes a variety of instructional approaches
  • Good: addresses  the needs of visual, auditory &  kinesthetic learners
  • Very Good: also includes strategies for learners with difficulties
Experiential Learning Good

Students participate in a simulation activity based on a current global issue which is designed to reflect a real situation.

Experiential Learning:

Authentic learning experiences are provided

  • Satisfactory: learning takes place through ‘hands-on’ experience or simulation
  • Good: learning involves direct experience in a ‘real world context’
  • Very good: learning involves ‘real world experiences’ taking place’ beyond the school walls.
Cooperative Learning Satisfactory

Students are given the opportunity to work in groups.

Cooperative Learning:

Group and cooperative learning strategies are a priority.

  • Satisfactory:  students work in groups
  • Good: cooperative learning skills are explicitly taught and practiced
  • Very Good: cooperative learning skills are explicitly taught, practiced and assessed
Assessment & Evaluation Satisfactory

Students understanding of the issue can be determined during classroom discussions. No assessment tools are provided.

Assessment & Evaluation: Tools are provided that help students and teachers to capture formative and summative information about students' learning and performance. These tools may include reflection questions, checklists, rubrics, etc.
Peer Teaching Poor/Not considered
Peer Teaching:

Provides opportunities for students to actively present their knowledge and skills to peers and/or act as teachers and mentors.

  • Satisfactory: incidental teaching that arises from cooperative learning, presentations, etc.
  • Good or Very Good: an opportunity is intentionally created to empower students to teach other students/community members. The audience is somehow reliant on the students' teaching (students are not simply ‘presenting')
Case Studies Good

The teacher's introduction to current migration issues provides relevant data which could be shared with older students.

Case Studies:

Relevant case studies are included.  Case studies are thorough descriptions of real events from real situations that students use to explore  concepts in an authentic context.

Locus of Control Satisfactory

The resource provides a Taking Action section with links to websites and suggestions to take part in projects.

Locus of Control: Meaningful opportunities are provided for students to choose elements of program content, the medium in which they wish to work, and/or to go deeper into a chosen issue.