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Adapting Child Participation Approaches in Practice during COVID-19

Learn more about adapting child participation approaches during COVID-19.

We are now going to explore how a specific participatory activity can be adapted for continued use in all phases of the COVID-19 cycle, considering both adaptations for face-to-face and remote/online facilitation.

An example of participatory activity is ‘Object Stories’. It has been adapted from “Moving Towards Children as Partners in Child Protection in COVID-19 Guide” for the purpose of this MOOC.

Purpose of Activity: To explore our safety and wellness through play and natural objects.

Use during Humanitarian Programme Stages: Needs Assessment & Analysis, Strategic Planning, Implementation & Monitoring, Evaluation

Materials: Play and nature objects, audio recorder, camera (for pictures of objects, not people), and personal protective gear (including masks, hand sanitiser, and hand-washing stations) per local recommendations.


Considerations for:

Age: Adjust for developmental stages of child participants.

Gender: Appropriate for all genders. Questions can be adapted for particular gender issues that are being explored, and/or young people can divide into gender-specific groups where desired.

Disability: All children can actively engage. As in previous tools, you can use different creative forms that are accessible to diverse abilities (e.g. visual [braille, texture, song/poem instead of an object] and audio [sign language, written text]).

Time: 30 minutes


  1. Invite participants to go on a walk in their surrounding area (if it is safe to do so) and find an object related to play/nature that supports their feeling of safety and well-being during the COVID-19 pandemic. (If this is not possible, ask children to bring something special from home.)
  2. Pair child participants in a culturally appropriate and inclusive way.
  3. Ask each child to sit with their partner at a safe physical distance and share their story in three minutes without the other partner interrupting or asking questions.
  4. After 3 minutes, create space for the partner to ask questions.
  5. After the partners have discussed, invite the second partner to share their story in 3 minutes.
  6. After both partners have completed the activity, invite all participants to come back together in a circle (sitting at an appropriate physical distance).
  7. Invite each participant to briefly share their object story with the whole group.
  8. After participants have shared, lead a discussion using the following questions as a guide:

a. How did it feel to find a play/nature object that connected with your safety and well-being? Was it easy? Difficult? Why?

b. What were some of the themes that came out from our individual and collective stories?

c. What are some ways we can support our safety and well-being in our programmes?

d. What are actions we can take in our communities to support other children’s feelings of safety and well-being?

e. What can we build on to support safety and well-being in the project phases? How can the project phase you are focusing on support children’s safety and well-being?

Note: If using for Monitoring or Evaluation, modify the above questions to reflect on things that have supported children to feel safe and well during the programme. Explore changes from before, during, and at the end of the programme.

Method 2: Remote adaptations for those with access to a smartphone, computer with internet, a phone without data, or regular mail/drop-off point

Video conferencing or smartphone: Before the group call, ask the children (via email, text, call) to find an object in their home or surrounding area (if safe to do so) that connects with their well-being or safety. On the video conference, invite participants to share their objects by holding it up to the group. Invite anyone who is comfortable to describe their object verbally or via the chatbox.

Online forums: This activity can also be adapted to invite children to share their objects and stories on a private, secure online space and/or private blog posts. Children can be invited to post a picture of their object with a written or verbal description. Consider exploring the themes of safety and well-being through other approaches too, such as digital stories, songs, poems, collages and paintings.

No internet and unable to meet in person: Co-create activity packages with children and adults that can be mailed to/dropped off (safely) at children’s homes. (Include postage for them to mail the packages back or provide a convenient location where they can drop them off.) This way, they can safely complete the activity on their own.

Your Task

Review this activity and define what you like about it and what concerns you have about it. Think about: is it suitable for children in your context? What would you do differently?

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Protecting Children during Infectious Disease Outbreaks

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