Professor Trépanier at Carleton University teaches the Canadian Studies Capstone Seminar and it. is. AWESOME.
One student, DL, developed a particularly rad project for the Museum of Civilization. First, she had everyone stand on a quilt. Then she folded it in half, but everyone still had to fit on the quilt. Then she folded it in half again, and everyone still had to fit on the quilt. This struck me as a very neat (as in efficient and clear) and interactive way to explain land claims issues.
I thought that was such a great idea that I use it all the time in my class for the unit on political cartoons about immigration. As an ice breaker / warm up activity, I tell the students that we’re going to play musical chairs, but instead of chairs we use paper.
Each student beings by standing on their own piece of paper, and then I play music (usually “My Humps”) while they walk around. I take away one piece of paper and stop the music. The students all have to fit on the remaining pieces of paper until there’s only one piece of paper left – and they all have to fit on that one!
They get pretty creative over retaining paper sovereignty (get it?). Sometimes they won’t move when I play the music. Other times, they will all hold hands to make a chain so that they’re all technically in contact with someone who’s on the paper (ie when there are 20 of them), or they stop using their feet and start using their hands instead.
Then we talk about why I made them do that, and they generally figure out that I mean that there is less and less land for more and more people (Indigenous communities, newcomer Europeans, more recent immigrants, etc.). I ask them how to decide who gets to use / keep / own / share what land / resources, etc. And then we look at loads of cartoons on a similar topic.
Since I stole and modified this idea, I thought it would only be fair to share it for the sake of Pedagogy and Progeny. Feel free to use or mod this activity for your class and let me know how it goes!
And if you’re one of my future students Googling me, I don’t think it’s really possible to spoil this activity since it’s not a trick – just a very solid visualization of the finite space resource of the planet we live on. Now pay attention!