Grade: Senior

#4608. Crayons and Paper: Genocide Throuogh the Eyes of Children

Social Studies, level: Senior
Posted Mon Jul 30 21:25:47 PDT 2012 by Bruce David janu (Bruce David janu).
Crayons and Paper Lesson Plans
Bell, Book & Camera Productions, Cary, IL USA
Materials Required: Access to a computer
Activity Time: 1-3 class periods
Concepts Taught: Genocide, Human Rights

Entire lesson can be downloaded in .pdf format at

Lesson Plan Booklet


A documentary by
Bruce David Janu

Original music by
Tom Flannery and
Lorne Clarke

Children's drawings and
Photographs provided by
Dr. Jerry Ehrlich

These lesson plans, written by director Bruce David Janu, are designed to be used in conjunction with screenings of the documentary, Crayons and Paper. They are made available, free of charge, in order to help raise awareness about human rights issues and to inspire young people to learn more about human rights and to get involved in activities that help make this world a slightly better place to live. Teachers are free to distribute and use these materials for classroom use only. Unauthorized reselling of these activities is strictly prohibited. Some of these activities are adapted from activities first published in the lesson plan book for the documentary, Facing Sudan (2007).

Crayons and Paper is available for download for only 99 at


Purpose: This activity is designed to get students to think about the subject and themes in
Crayons and Paper, such as human rights, genocide and social justice.

Materials needed: A copy of handout #1

"Crayons and Paper" song (optional)

"How Can You Go Home Again?" song (optional)

"Crayons and Paper" segment from Crayons and Paper (optional).

Time: 15-30 minutes


1. Distribute the handout to the students. Have the students take turns reading the
poems/songs out loud.

2. Have students then answer the questions by themselves.

3. Have students share their answers. Discuss the meaning of the song.

4. Optional: Play the song, "Crayons and Paper" and "How Can You Go Home Again?"
for the students.

The songs can be downloaded for free at

5. Write the term "GENOCIDE" on the board. Discuss with students the meaning of the
term. Have students list the various "genocides" that have occurred in history.
According to the United Nations, "genocide" is:

Any of the following acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious
group, as such:
(a) Killing members of the group;
(b) Causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group;
(c) Deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part;
(d) Imposing measures intended to prevent births within the group;
(e) Forcibly transferring children of the group to another group.
-- Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide, Article II (1948)

6. Discuss this question with the students: What does the song have to do with

More information about the songwriters can be found at the following sites:

Tom Flannery:
Lorne Clarke:
Handout #1 Name___________________________________
Activity: Art and Meaning

Directions: Below you will find two poems/songs. Read the words and answer the questions
that follow each.

"Crayons and Paper"
Words and Music by Tom Flannery
2006 Tom Flannery (BMI)

Helicopters in the sky
mounted guns and mother's cry
if this is war please tell me why
we're the only ones allowed to die
give me crayons and paper
I'll draw what I see
if I close my eyes
can you still see me?
Again we all scatter at night
in daylight hope to reunite
the prayers I do recite
maybe we should all re-write
give me crayons and paper
and let me rest my head
then I'll draw you pictures
where nobody is dead
shades of color
shades of gray
the birds fly in
but they don't stay
the blood in red
the guns in black
can't draw the screams
you should know now If I could draw you my eyes
so you could see from the inside
all the colors would collide
can you say you really tried?
give me crayons and paper
and when my trembling hand
stops all it's shaking
I'll draw you my land
shades of color
shades of gray
the birds fly in
but they don't stay
the blood in red
the guns in black
can't draw the screams
you should know now
give me crayons and paper
I'll draw what I see
if I close my eyes
can you still see me

1. Who is the speaker in this poem/song? How old is the person? Is the speaker male or

2. What is the situation the person is describing? What has happened to the person?

3. Where do you think this person lives?

4. The speaker says, "The birds fly in but they don't stay." Why do you think the birds do
not stay?

5. What is the overall tone of the poem? What emotions is the speaker feeling?

Handout #1 con't

"How Can You Go Home Again?"
Words and music by
Tom Flannery and Lorne Clarke
2008 Flannery/Clarke (BMI/SOCAN)

They can you go there
and see the things you see
without longing for something
that you used to be
How can you look into the eyes
of a forsaken child
and not think of your own running free
restless and wild

I say how...
Can you go home again?
I say how...
Can you go home again?

They say how can you go out there
And do the things you do
And not slip into the madness
Of that never ending doom
How can you daily find the courage
To walk out into the fire
They say it's faith that moves the mountains
But what keeps you inspired
I say how...
Can you go home again?
I say how...
Can you go home again?

Do you not grow weary
from the years on you
and with the mind playing tricks
on what the eyes can do
and now you're stepping inside
the icy mind of men
with cold grey matter
where a heart should have been

I say how...
Can you go home again?
I say how...
Can you go home again?
I say how...
Can you go home again?

1. What is the song about?

2. When the narrator asks, "how can you go out there and do the things you do?" what is
he referring to? What has the subject of the song done?

3. How do the singers feel about the person they sing about? Explain.


Purpose: This activity is designed for students to creatively respond to images drawn by
children in both Darfur and Sri Lanka and to conceptualize the meaning of the term

Materials needed: A copy of handout #2
The documentary Crayons and Paper (optional)

The documentary is available online for 99 at

Time: 15-30 minutes


1. Distribute handout #2.

2. Have students look at the image and then write responses to the questions.

3. Discuss student responses as a class.

4. Optional. Play the children's drawings segment from Crayons and Paper.

5. Discuss the song and its relation to genocide. See the previous activity.

Notes about the drawings:

These drawings were brought back to the United States by Dr. Jerry Ehrlich, the subject of
Crayons and Paper. He completed several missions to Sri Lanka in the 1990s and a mission
to Darfur in 2004. He worked with Doctors Without Borders.

Drawing #1 is from Darfur and drawings #2 and #3 are from Sri Lanka.

More details about Sudan and Sri Lanka can be found online at the CIA World Fact


Sri Lanka:

Handout #2 Name______________________________
Activity: Children's Drawings

Directions: Look at the following images and answer the questions.

Handout #2, con't

1. Examine each of the pictures. What is happening in each one?

2. Who drew these pictures? From where do you think these pictures were drawn?

3. What can you learn from looking at these pictures? What emotions do you feel when
looking at these drawings?

4. Choose one drawing and write a story as if you are the child who drew the picture.
Describe what happened to you that day and why.


Purpose: This is a pre and post viewing activity plus viewing guide for the documentary
Crayons and Paper. The first activity is designed to focus student attention on the issues and
themes brought up in the film. The second activity is designed to focus students while
viewing the documentary.

Materials needed: A copy of handout #3

Crayons and Paper, the documentary. (The film can be download online for 99 at The film can also be bought on dvd or rented online as well).

Time: 10 minutes prior to viewing; 30 minutes of viewing; 10 minutes after viewing


1. Distribute Handout #3 to the students.

2. Part 1 is a pre-viewing activity. In the BEFORE column, students will write either a T
for true or an F for false. They may not know any of the answers; they should make
their "best guess."

3. When they are done, they will answer the questions in Part 2 while viewing the film,
Crayons and Paper.

4. After the film, have the students revisit Part 1 and complete the AFTER column.
Discuss the answers with the class or collect it for a grade.


Part 1

1. False. Sri Lanka is in Asia, an island east of India
2. True.
3. False. 400,000 or more have died in Darfur.
4. False. The conflict in Sri Lanka was a civil war between ethnic groups.
5. True.
6. True.
7. True.
8. False. Darfur is in Sudan.
9. False. According to UNICEF, over 26,000 children die everyday.
10. True.



Part 2

1. Dr. Jerry encountered many problems while in Sri Lanka and Darfur. In Sri Lanka, he
was the only pediatrician in the entire region. The hospital where he worked suffered
from lack of supplies and sanitation. The children in both Sri Lanka and Darfur
suffered from many ailments, most notably malnutrition. In Darfur, the Sudanese
government did not want the aid workers there and often harassed them. He was
plagued by a lack of supplies and often had to improvise treatments. In addition, while
in Darfur the camp was hit by a measles epidemic.

2. The drawings shown in the film can mostly be classified as violent. There are scene of
villages burning and helicopters and planes bombing houses and people. The war
from the air is the most common image in drawings from both Darfur and Sri Lanka. In
fact, the helicopter images are strikingly similar, in spite of the fact that the events
occurred on different continents. The manner in which the drawings were made are
also very similar: simple line drawings, much like a child anywhere would create. In
the Sri Lankan drawings, there are several images depicting life in camps.

3. Dr. Jerry placed the drawings in the Sunday edition of the New York Times and carried
them discreetly out of the country. He was almost caught on several occasions. Now
that the drawings are public, the Sudanese government has asked him to stop
showing them. They feel, most likely, that the drawings depict a negative view of the
Sudanese government's role in the humanitarian disaster in Darfur.

4. Doctors without Borders has the goal of administering to people in need, regardless of
the situation. They include volunteers from all over the world who dedicate their time
and talent to helping other people, especially in war-torn areas.

5. Answers will vary.

Handout #2 Name______________________________
Activity: Anticipation and Viewing
guide for Crayons and Paper

Part 1: Pre-viewing. Before viewing the film, complete each question by writing your
answers in the "BEFORE" column. Write a "T" for TRUE or a "F" for FALSE.


_____ 1. Sri Lanka is in Africa. ______

_____ 2. The Janjaweed are responsible for many of the atrocities in Darfur. ______

_____ 3. Over 400,000 people have died in fighting in Sri Lanka. ______

_____ 4. The war in Sri Lanka was the result of an invasion by a neighboring ______

_____ 5. Malnutrition is a major problem in Darfur. ______

_____ 6. Being a human rights aide worker is one of the most dangerous ______
jobs in the world.

_____ 7. Rape is used as a weapon of war in Darfur. ______

_____ 8. Darfur is located in the country of Chad. ______

_____ 9. Approximately 10,000 children die everyday from mainly ______
preventable causes.

_____ 10. The war in Darfur started in 2003. ______

Part 2: Viewing Guide. As you watch the film, Crayons and Paper, answer the following

1. As a doctor working with Doctors Without Borders, Dr. Jerry Ehrlich encountered many
problems, both medical and political. List those problems and difficulties below.

Handout #3, con't

2. As you view the drawings made by children in both Sri Lanka and Darfur, list the
characteristics of the drawings. How are they drawn? What are the subjects matters
in the drawings? What are the similarities/differences between the drawings in Sri
Lanka and Darfur?

3. How did Dr. Jerry get the children's drawings out of Darfur? Why did he have to sneak
them out? Why does the Sudanese government want him to stop showing the

4. Based on what you saw in the film, what is the purpose and goal of Doctors Without

5. List FIVE things you learned from Dr. Jerry's story.

Part 3. Post-viewing. Revisit your answers in Part 1, writing your new answers in the
"AFTER" column. How many did you initially get right?


Crayons and Paper was released in 2010. In the years since its release, the situation in both Darfur and Sri Lanka has changed.

The civil war in Sri Lanka officially ended in 2009 when government forces took over all of the areas held by the Tamil rebels. More than 70,000 people were killed in 25 years of fighting. In 2011, the United Nations released a report condemning both sides for human rights violations. The army remains in control of the north region where the majority of Tamils live. There is fear that this will further alienate the population and could lead to renewed conflict. Some are claiming that minority rights in north Sri Lanka are not being protected.

Despite the fact that the media has been ignoring Darfur for the last few years, conflict is still continuing there, although not on the scale of the mid-2000s. Millions of people are still living in camps in Darfur. The burning and pillaging of villages in Darfur still continues.

In 2011, South Sudan became the world's newest independent nation. This has led to further problems between the government of Sudan and the new nation. Border conflicts in South Sudan are on the rise. International security experts are warning of a renewed war in that region. Inter-tribal violence is also on the rise and future struggles over oil fields may make the implementation of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement of 2005 very difficult.

The following websites can offer more information about the situation in Sri Lanka and Darfur.



News on Sri Lanka:
BBC Sri Lanka Page:
International Crisis Group Report:
Council on Foreign Relations Report:
Human Rights Watch:
Amnesty International:


BBC Sudan Page:
UN Mission in Sudan:
Save Darfur:
Amnesty International:
The Committee on Conscience, the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum:
Council on Foreign Relations:
The African Union:
Eric Reeves:
Genocide Intervention Network:


International Rescue Committee: