BBC HomeExplore the BBC
This page has been archived and is no longer updated. Find out more about page archiving.

20 October 2014
Citizen X Homepage

BBC Homepage
BBC Schools
CitizenX Home
Being a Citizen
Local Citizen
National Citizen
International Citizen
Message board
KS3 Bitesize
Schools age 11-16
World Class

Contact Us

EU, UN & the Commonwealth
EU, UN and The Commonwealth topic indexTeachers Index


Rights & Responsibilities


Local Democracy

Community Action


Media -- coming soon

Government & Parliament

Global Community

EU, UN & Commonwealth
  • Online lesson plan
  • Offline lesson plan
  • Using website activites

  • Online lesson plan

    Students will learn about international organisations, how they work and how effective they are.

    National Curriculum

    QCA Schemes of work Unit 05: How the law protects animals - a local-to-global study and Unit 10: Debating a global issue.

    Resources Required

    Computers, large map of the world.

    Teaching Activities


    Use a large map of the world to explore students' existing knowledge of the European Union, Commonwealth and United Nations: Name a member state of the European Union. Where is it on the map? In which continent are there member states of the Commonwealth? Zimbabwe is at present excluded from the Commonwealth: why and where is it on the map? Where on the map is the headquarters of the United Nations?

    In addition or alternatively, ask the question - What does the European Union mean to you? or What does it mean to you to be a citizen of Europe? Record answers on the whiteboard to refer back to at the end of the lesson.


    1. Working with computers or in small groups: what basic rules might a youth club have? Share results from this and then ask: would similar rules apply to larger clubs like the European Union or the Commonwealth? Give more information at this stage, if appropriate, about the EU and Commonwealth.

    2. Introduce the activities in this area of the site: The 'Sonar goes to the music festival' animation and The Lowdown information section. It may be best to access the Sonar activity first, both because this is fun to do and to move outwards from learning about Europe to the wider world.The Lowdown can be introduced between sessions to reinforce learning or as final summary activities.

    3. Draw or design on-screen a timeline for global order and disorder: Mark events like:

      World War 1 1914-18
      World War 2 1939-45
      Hiroshima bomb 1945
      The founding of the UN 1945
      The Vietnam War 1954-75
      The fall of the Berlin Wall 1989
      The Good Friday Agreement in Northern Ireland 1998
      September 11 2001

    4. Then stage a 'global trial' of the UN to question how effective it has been over the last 50+ years. To do this, divide the class into groups researching positive and negative points in the history of the UN.

      Groups working on positive points choose spokespeople to present what they have learned. Members of the 'negative' groups can question them. The process is then reversed, after which everyone has a free vote if they think the UN has been a success so far or not.

    5. Students can do internet or library research on the UN with examples of peace-keeping activities around the world. Find out about Afghanistan, Bosnia, Iraq, Kosovo or Somalia as areas of conflict. Find the names of people who have been Secretary General of the UN and some of the decisions they have had to take.

    6. After doing this activity, students can get involved in active citizenship involving international organisations by doing their own project, as Southfields Community College did for Amnesty International (see Citizenship Action). Or students can read CBBC Newsround's guide to the UN.

    Suggested Homework

    Ask students to find out more about the history of the European Union. They could present this as a table or graphic showing the main stages along the road to creating the Union.

    Or: On a blank map of the world mark the present members of the Commonwealth and/or some of the flags of their countries.

    About the BBC | Help | Terms of Use | Privacy & Cookies Policy