Urban challenges and resilient cities: A teachers’ guide
teaching tips
Final session

Creative workshop: The two islands

Ideally, before embarking on this activity, the class will have gone through the opening session (Growing cities, gnawing challenges) and, preferably, some of the specific challenges and activities (in particular: Idea poker, The talking waterfall, The spaghetti-marshmallow tower, Go fish! and the Fair shares game). It is a good idea to have on display the case studies from each of the challenges so that students can read them during breaks in the workshop. If you played the Idea poker game, you might also display the challenge cards that the students created.

The Two islands creative workshop is a way to wrap up the curriculum and give students an opportunity to apply the lessons learned in a fun and interactive way.

Students can help prepare by bringing in some colourful newspapers and magazines on the day of the activity. The game can be played in a large, open room, or in a classroom with desks and chairs pushed to the walls. Students create a two- or three-dimensional model of a city out of various materials, then rapidly generate ideas and solutions, while continuously interacting with their peers in order to quickly and efficiently address challenges. During the course of play, they will get better at rapidly visualising their ideas in a simple way.

Use the activities below to design a workshop on the environmental impacts of social expectations. 

5 minutes


Great expectations?


Distribute copies of the summary of Ivan Gantschev’s 1985 story "Two Islands" to encourage your students to think about the environmental impacts of social expectations.

info sheet

Ivan Gantschev: Two islands (summary)

PDF | 462 Kb

45 minutes

Make it!

Build an island!


After reading the story, divide your students into two equal groups (cater to their preferences, but ensure an equal number of students in each group). The two groups of students will represent the inhabitants of Greenel and Greynel, and they will have to design their city in line with the story, but using their own creative ideas. We suggest that each group should tape flipchart paper sheets together to form a square creative “canvas” approximately 2.5 x 2.5 metres. They should then draw and build their islands on this canvas in two separate corners of the same room.


Give students enough time to think and build (40 minutes). Provide them the necessary resources, such as glue, scissors, coloured paper, newspapers and magazines, post-it notes of different colours, aluminium foil, a pack of flipchart sheets, plasticine/modelling clay, markers or sticks of chalk, string, cardboard, elastic bands, straws, paper clips, cotton balls, steel wire, wooden sticks, bottle caps, glitter, confetti and so on — whatever you think might be useful as a raw material.


Each student should pick a role to play or a profession to fulfil in the island’s everyday life. The roles should be written on a piece of paper.

20 minutes

Role play

Lead the way!


Explain to the students that for this exercise they will take on the role of tourists or tour guides.


Ask the students to pair up with someone from the other island. One should act as a tourist, the other as a tour guide. (If there is an uneven number of students, form a group of three.)


  • The tour guides welcome their assigned tourists to the island, explaining how they live, sharing an interesting story, and introducing the island's main features. This should take between three and five minutes.
  • The tourists and guides should then switch roles, with the inhabitant of the other island giving a similar introduction lasting three to five minutes.
  • During the introductions, it is a good idea if the tourists keep their eyes closed and rely on their imagination.

At the end of the activity, ask the pairs of students to discuss the experience.


Encourage your students to share feedback and impressions with the class as a whole.

25 minutes


Headline challenges


Split the students from each island into small groups of roughly equal size (three to five students per group).


These small groups should come up with a huge challenge or a disaster that takes place on their island. (It can range from the serious to the absurd.) For inspiration, students can draw on the challenges discussed during earlier classes, or on their challenge card from the Idea poker activity. They should have 15 minutes to prepare a short presentation about the challenge.


After the 15 minutes preparation time, each group has 30 seconds to outline the challenge to a reporter (you), who is curious about what is happening on the island. They should then "pose" for an action photo for a headline article in the Global newspaper. The students should also come up with a headline for the newspaper article and write it on flipchart paper for inclusion in the photograph.

30 minutes

Role play

Business solutions


Ask the students to gather on their own island and brainstorm to find innovative business ideas to improve life on their island (or in the world). After five minutes of brainstorming, the island inhabitants should choose the best idea on the island. Each island then has to "pitch" their business idea to the inhabitants of the other island and to the investor (you), requesting their support. Students have 15 minutes to decide on the idea and prepare for the pitch. The pitch should be no longer than two and a half minutes. Every student must be part of the presentation. If one student explains the problem and the idea for the solution, for example, the others must act out the ideas in the background in order to be part of the team effort.


You might also suggest to the class that they should dress up, choosing a particular appearance for their mayor/spokesperson/chief. They may need an extra five minutes for this additional activity.


On record


Take pictures of each stage in the activity and display them on the wall.


Ask your students to write an article for the local newspaper.


Celebrate their achievements together!