How Child to Child activities can be adapted to new situations

January 2015

By Celine Woznica

I first learned Child to Child methodology in a workshop in Nicaragua in 1982, and since then have implemented and taught the approach in different locations and conditions throughout the Americas. I am constantly amazed at how the time-tested approach finds new applications and meanings when adapted to different situations.

I recently travelled to Peru to conduct workshops on Child to Child’s six-step approach to adult facilitators from Palenques Infantiles, a programme of Centro de Desarrollo Étnico – CEDET (Centre for Ethnic Development), funded by the Bernard Van Leer Foundation.

The programme’s aim is to encourage the organisation of Afro-Peruvian children to analyse their situation, recognise their rights, and have their voices heard by society. The creativity of the workshop participants resulted in new applications of Child to Child methodology.

Child to Child’s six-step approach links the “learning place” with the “living place,” and incorporates tools and activities to help children name and study issues that affect them and then to plan, implement, and evaluate actions in response.IMG_1907

They dream of a land free of violence

Child to Child workshops are partnerships in which children and adults learn from one another and together create practical and effective responses. The challenge is to help the children express their thoughts and find their voice.

The CEDET staff implemented the child-friendly tool “Magic Carpet Ride” in which children huddled together on a large sheet and closed their eyes. The women shook the sheet, narrated a story of a trip to a magic land, and made the whirling sounds of a carpet in flight.

Caught up in the imaginative ride, the children began to express their dreams of a land free of violence and with room to play and grow. The older children used a similarly creative approach, which allowed them to identify related issues of physical and emotional violence.

In different places and different times, children name infectious diseases and malnutrition as their major wellbeing concerns.

Understanding children’s rights

How can children do something about the difficult problems they identify? Once again, the creativity of the CEDET women was evident. They felt strongly that children should know and understand their rights.

Appreciating that children learn and teach through games, the women created a series of cards with colourful illustrations of Afro-Peruvian children. Written on each card was a saying that represented either a right (I have a right to adequate housing) or a desire (I have a right to colour my hair). In game format, the children discussed which cards reflected a right and which reflected a desire.


Noting the need for children to be able to recognise and respond to the other children’s feelings, CEDET staff created another set of playing cards entitled “Senti-juegos” with faces expressing various emotions. The cards can be played as a memory or interactive card game. When a child matches two emotion-cards, he or she demonstrates through facial expression and body language how another child who feels that emotion might look, and how the first child can reach out and help that child.

Child to Child’s six-step approach is time-proven and adaptable to the varying situations of children throughout the world. It is wonderful to see that the creativity of Child to Child workshop participants really drives this adaptability!