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Volunteering at Scouts is changing to help us reach more young people

Volunteering is changing to help us reach more young people

Volunteering is changing at Scouts. Read more

Discover what this means

Know your rights

Play a musical game then explore the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child in this harmonious human rights activity.

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You’ll need

  • Scrap paper
  • Pens or pencils
  • Chairs
  • Device to play music
Rights, needs and wants cards
PDF – 83.0KB

Before you begin

  • Use the safety checklist to help you plan and risk assess your activity. Additional help to carry out your risk assessment, including examples can be found here. Don’t forget to make sure all young people and adults involved in the activity know how to take part safely.
  • Make sure you’ll have enough adult helpers. You may need some parents and carers to help if you’re short on helpers.

Setting up this activity

  • Prepare some cards or pieces of paper with some different rights, needs and wants written on each one. We’ve included some ideas of rights, needs and wants below.
  • For ‘Play musical chairs’, you’ll need one card for each person.
  • For ‘Choose rights, wants, or needs’, you’ll need enough sets of 10 identical cards for each group (three or four people) to have one.
  • There’s lots of information, including a full list of the articles in the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, on the Unicef website. It’s a good idea to have a look before you lead this activity, so you feel confident that you know everything you need to.
  • It’s up to you how you play the music for Musical Chairs. It doesn’t have to be super-technical. Depending on the space you’re using, a phone with the volume turned up might work!

UNCRC articles:

  • Education (article 28)
  • Shelter (article 27)
  • Relaxing (article 31)
  • Playing (article 31)
  • Being treated equally (article 2)
  • Freedom from violence (articles 19, 37, and 38)
  • Healthcare (article 24)
  • Freedom from abuse (articles 19 and 33 to 36)
  • Expressing thoughts and opinions (articles 13)
  • Having a name and nationality (articles 7 and 8)
  • Clean water (article 24)
  • Nutritious food (article 24)
  • Practising religion (article 14)

Other ideas to include:

  • Love
  • A premium music streaming account, such as Spotify or Google Play
  • Money
  • Warm clothes
  • Voting in elections
  • Sweets
  • Headphones
  • Subscriptions to streaming services, such as Netflix
  • Mobile phones
  • Fast food
  • A holiday
  • The latest trainers
  • Accessing social media
  • Your own bedroom

Introduce the topic

  1. Ask everyone if they know the difference between rights, wants or needs. Choose a few people to say their ideas.
  2. Explain that Rights exist to protect people and make sure their needs are met. Their needs are the things they need to have a good life. Wants are things that are ‘nice to have’ but aren’t essential.
  3. Everyone should try to think of some examples of rights, needs, and wants. They shouldn’t share their ideas yet.

Play musical chairs

  1. Everyone should get a chair, put them in a circle facing outwards, and sit down.
  2. Give everyone a piece of paper that has a right, need or want written on it.
  3. Play some music. Everyone should get up and move around the chairs, while keeping hold of their piece of paper.
  4. While the music’s playing, remove a chair from the circle, so there’s one fewer chair than the number of players.
  5. Pause the music. Everyone should find a chair to sit on. One player should be left standing.
  6. The person left standing should read out the words on their piece of paper. They should try to persuade everyone that their piece of paper has a ‘right’ on it. Everyone else can ask questions, if they want to.
  7. Everyone should vote on whether the thing on the person’s paper is a right. You could help everyone to discuss their decision after they’ve voted. Ask questions, such as why did they think it was (or wasn’t) important, would they make the same decision if they lived somewhere outside the UK, or how would it feel to not have the thing?
  8. If the majority vote that’s it a right, the player should stay in the game. Everyone should repeat steps three to seven, except the person leading the activity shouldn’t remove a chair.
  9. If the majority vote that it’s not a right, the player is out. They should help the person leading the game with the music, removing the chairs and keeping track of who’s last to find a chair. Everyone should repeat steps three to seven.
  10. People who are ‘out’ can still ask questions and vote about whether things are rights or not.
  11. The game ends when there are a few things in the middle.
  12. Unless someone’s just great at the game and always finds a chair, the remaining players should have pieces of paper that make up a set of rights.

Choose rights, wants, or needs 

  1. Everyone should split into groups of three or four people.
  2. The person leading the activity should give each group a set of 10 cards with rights, needs, and wants on them.
  3. Each group should work together to order the cards from the most to the least important. The rights and needs should be above the wants. People could make a simple list from top to bottom, or they could create a different shape if they think some cards belong on the same level.
  4. Everyone should share their ideas with each other. Did all of the groups have a similar order? Were there any cards people disagreed on?
  5. The person leading the activity should introduce the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC). Explain that the UNCRC has 54 articles that set out the rights that all children everywhere are entitled to. They’re all linked, and no rights are more (or less) important than others. The UNCRC is the most widely approved international human rights treaty in history – it’s been accepted by all UN member states except the United States.
  6. Each group should try to figure out which cards show rights from the UNCRC. They should put all of the other cards to one side.
  7. Each group should take it in turns to shout of an idea, until between them, they’ve found all of the rights. Here’s a summary of the UNCRC articles if needed.
  8. In their groups, everyone should think about young people in other countries. Are there places where Scouts find it harder to get their rights? Are there places where young people have fewer opportunities? For example, article 28 talks about the right to education. Every child is entitled to education, but at the moment, not every child is able to get an education. Can anyone think of places it might be hard to get an education? Check out Our World in Data for information and statistics on global issues like poverty, disease, hunger, climate change and inequality.
  9. Everyone should take it in turns to share their ideas.


This activity reminded everyone that they’re a citizen. What does being a global citizen mean? People might have all sorts of answers here, some might think about how it’s being aware of the wider world and playing their part in communities locally and nationally. What sorts of rights and responsibilities do citizens have?

This activity was also about communication. It’s great to know about important things like rights, but it’s important to talk to other people too. Why is talking to other people so important? People might think about how it helps them learn and develop their ideas as well as how it can help other people become aware of big issues. How did people feel about sharing their ideas? Was it easy to understand what other people meant?

Article 42 of the UNCRC is all about people working together to make that everyone (children and adults) know about the convention. How could people share what they’ve learned with others?


All activities must be safely managed. You must complete a thorough risk assessment and take appropriate steps to reduce risk. Use the safety checklist to help you plan and risk assess your activity. Always get approval for the activity, and have suitable supervision and an InTouch process.

Active games

The game area should be free of hazards. Explain the rules of the game clearly and have a clear way to communicate that the game must stop when needed. Take a look at our guidance on running active games safely.

You could give each group some scrap paper with their 10 cards, so they can add some of their own ideas too.

Lots of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) are linked to human rights. The SDGs are global goals that people and governments are working towards. Scouts are trying to achieve the SDGs too – you can find out more on the Scouts for SDGs portal or research using the SDG tracker.

You may need to adapt musical chairs so everyone can take part. For example, wheelchair users could position themselves in front of a chair to show they’ve taken it. If this doesn’t work for your group, you could replace musical chairs with a game of musical statues. Alternatively, take it in turns to roll a dice – when people roll a six, they’re at risk of being ‘out’ and must argue that they have a right that should stay in the game. You may need to split into smaller groups for this to work best.

All Scout activities should be inclusive and accessible.

Why not use this activity to start working towards some of the requirements of the Scouts World Challenge Award?