The crisis in Ukraine

Resources for a Discussion and Activities with Primary School Children 

1. Talking to children about war: 

As my colleague Amber Demetrius has written in her blog ‘Mummy, there’s bad new about Ukraine’ , we naturally want to protect our children from the bad news that’s happening in the world and war is probably the worst news possible.  The problem is that children are already ‘out there’.  They are very aware and are already picking up snippets of information from adult conversations and from the news.  Is it not better, therefore, to deal with difficult topics in an open and age-appropriate way, to inform children, answer their questions and enable them to think critically about world affairs? The aim here is not to alarm children unnecessarily but rather to allay their fears through a balanced discussion and to enable them to make sense of the world.  They should also be supported to take action as ‘ethical, informed citizens of Wales and the world’ so that they feel they can do something to help the situation. 

Here are some suggestions as to how schools can introduce the topic of the war in Ukraine, if this feels appropriate. 

2. Explaining the conflict in an age-appropriate way: 

The first task, perhaps, is to explain the situation to children in a way that’s relevant to them.  One way of doing this is to draw parallels with situations they are familiar with, such as the playground.   

The text below has been adapted from a post on social media.  Please use / adapt this as you see fit.  It can be used with visuals such as a world map to show where the Ukraine is.  Some questions are suggested below to support children in exploring matters further, if they wish.   

“After the last BIG playground fight (WW2), a group of kids (WORLD LEADERS) got together and formed a gang called the Noy Boys (NATO). All the kids in this gang made a promise (TREATY) to be nice and respectful and not fight each other anymore.  

This means not going into each other’s part of the playground (COUNTRY) without permission, and not throwing sticks or stones (HEAVY ARTILLERY) at each other, and the UK is part of this gang. 

A lot of people wanted to join the Noy Boys because it helped them to feel safe.  Slowly the group has been getting bigger, and it is now edging up against the bit of the playground that is occupied by a rival gang, the Ru Crew (RUSSIA).  This has caused tension.   

The problem really got worse when a new kid (UKRAINE) said they might like to join the Noy Boys.  This was tricky, because the new kid used to be part of the Ru Crew and they play in the bit of the playground right next to where the rival gang is.   

The Ru Crew first of all threatened the new kid and they’ve now crossed over into where the new kid is playing and used sticks, stones and missiles to try to force them to come back into their gang.  This is breaking playground rules (INTERNATIONAL LAW) and everyone is shocked and disgusted that this is happening. They have all told the Ru Crew off and stuck up for the new kid by withdrawing their pocket money until they stop hurting the new kid (SANCTIONS).  The hope is that this will stop the Ru Crew from buying more sticks and stones and encourage them to talk rather than continue fighting. 

The Noy Boys can’t help the new kid fight the rival gang directly because he / she is not a member of their gang.  It would be breaking their promise to do so and would almost certainly mean that the playground fight got worse. 

The Noy Boys have, however, given the new kid lots of their own sticks and stones to fight the bully with, because this is not breaking the promise. 

For now, other kids (COUNTRIES) can only really stand on the edge and watch and give moral support to the new kid, including welcoming kids who have fled because they are in danger of getting hurt (REFUGEES) and making sure that they are warm, safe and have enough sweets (FOOD and SHELTER).  

Everyone wants the fight to stop, and some kids have tried to encourage all sides to talk so that nobody else gets hurt and so that the playground can be safe for everyone.” 

3. Some questions to consider: 

  • What do you think is effective in stopping bullying happening or when two people fall out on the playground? 
  • Would the following things make the situation BETTER or WORSE, in your opinion? 
  1. Sending more sticks and stones to one side or the other (often seen as the answer, but the danger is that this escalates the violence, and that more and more people get hurt) 
  1. Depriving the bully / aggressor of money or goods (could be effective, but could make the bully’s gang believe even more that the other side is ‘against them’) 
  1. Lots of people in the new kid’s team and in the Ru Crew standing up and insisting that the fighting should stop (takes a lot of courage, but would mean that the scales could be tipped against the bully….) 
  1. Calling for the fighting to stop (CEASEFIRE) and getting someone from outside (a teacher / mediator / THIRD COUNTRY / UNITED NATIONS) to get the two sides to talk until they come to an agreement. 
  1. How do you think the bully is feeling and why is he acting like he is? 

How is the war affecting the new kid? 

How do people in the Noy Boys gang feel?   

4. Activities: 

  • Find out where the Ukraine is on the map.  What can you find out about the country – for instance about its history, language and culture? 
  • What about Russia?  What can you find out about it?  What is its recent history and what do you think has led its current leader to behave in the way he is? 
  • Look at a map of NATO countries.  Does this suggest any problems to you? What strikes you about the position of the Ukraine on this map? 

5. What can we do? 

  • We can show solidarity with the Ukraine.  Many buildings are being lit up in the colours of the Ukranian flag or are flying the Ukranian flag.  What could your school do? 
  • We can raise money to support people fleeing the conflict (refugees).  The Disasters Emergency Committee (DEC) has set up a humanitarian appeal for Ukraine.  Your school could also raise money through other charities such as Save the Children or Unicef.  See suggestions here: 
  • Write to your local Senedd Member or local Member of Parliament to insist that Wales / the UK welcomes as many refugees from the Ukraine as possible. 
  • Hold an Assembly to hold the people of Ukraine (and ordinary people in Russia) in your thoughts and prayers.  
  • What about becoming a Peace School?  This scheme gives you access to free resources and training and supports you in embedding peace into your school ethos and across the curriculum.  For further information contact  
  • Learn how to relate to others positively and non-violently by running ‘Facing up to Conflict’ workshops in your school.  They are interactive and fun!  For further information, contact  

For further information about events in the Ukraine, including Wales’ historical links to that country and ideas about what you can do go to:  

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