Skip to Main Content

Junior STEM: The Long Walk




'The Long Walk' Activity (page 11)  is designed to develop students’ understanding of refugee camps and the problems associated with the loss of personal belongings such as shoes. Students compare the lifestyle of a refugee child to their own lifestyle.


PART 1: I see, I think, I wonder

Working in small groups, students view the images of worn out shoes from A Long Walk and use Student activity sheet 1.3: I see, I think, I wonder (page 48) to explore the thinking and questions they have when they view the images.

Prompt questions can include:

  • What do you see when you look at these images?
  • What are you thinking about as you look at these images? Why? ... Because …
  • What are your wonderings (questions)?

A think-pair-share activity [see Teacher resource sheet 1.2: Cooperative learning – Think, Pair, Share (page 47!)]  prior to a whole class discussion may encourage a greater depth of responses.


PART 2: Listen to stories

Students view the stories from A Long Walk and discuss the stories to see if their predictions about who owned the shoes from Part 1 were accurate. Introduce the concept of refugees and refugee camps using images from A Long Walk and the digital images provided (see Digital resources). Students record their thinking using Student activity sheet 1.4: Refugee camps and shoes (page 49!).

Students compare the conditions in a refugee camp to the conditions where they live using a Venn diagram. Start with two separate circles and have students brainstorm ideas for both. Ask students:

  • How can we show the conditions that belong to both categories?

Move the circles so they overlap. Ask students:

  • Could we add a third circle to show the conditions in a different part of Western Australia? How would this look?
  • How could we show conditions that belong to two circles? Three circles?


PART 3: Additional Learning Opportunities

  • Students view information on refugee homes on the Better Shelter website ( This may give students an idea of the problem and the design criteria needed for housing in a camp. This is an engaging way for students to think about the design criteria for the shoes they will be creating.
  • A literacy activity to complement learning has been included in Student activity sheet 1.5: Literacy activity: The experience of being a refugee (page 50!). Additional resources are in literacy resources.
  • Students create a contour drawing of their own shoes or a crayon rubbing of the soles of their shoes. 

PART 4: Reflection 

Students record their thinking and responses to the following questions in their reflective journals:

  • How would you explain how people become refugees?
  • How would you describe life as a refugee?

Thinking can be represented through drawings, photos, mind maps or structured sentences.



When planning for the delivery of this topic, it is important to consider the backgrounds and experiences of the students as content may cause distress for some students. It may be necessary to notify parents, alert students and provide alternative lesson content. Students should not research refugee camps without supervision due to the sensitivity of the content.

Students will explore A Long Walk by photo journalist Shannon Jensen. Some of stories in A Long Walk refer to war and violence. These should only be read if deemed suitable. Some students may be refugees, or know someone who is, so sensitivity to their needs is important.

Student thinking from all activities should be recorded in a reflective journal. The journal can be either digital or physical. See Reflective journal for more support.

RESOURCES: websites


A Long Walk images and stories by photo journalist Shannon Jensen (Open Society Foundations, 2017)


UNHCR UN refugee agency images.


Aerial picture of a typical refugee camp (UNHCR)


Better Shelter and IKEA Foundation refugee homes


Further reading on displacement: Worldwide displacement hits all-time high as war and persecution increase (UNHCR, 2015)


9.49min Book reading of The Little Refugee by Anh Do and Suzanne Do

6.37min Read aloud "Four Feet, Two Sandals" by Karyn Lyn Williams and Khadra Mohammed

4.50min There's nothing more natural for parents than the desire to give their children a safe home. But how do families who flee war zones begin to rebuild their kids' sense of security? Here's how Syrian refugee families living on the Greek island of Lesbos are finding safety and comfort in a Better Shelter.