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Peace and Its Symbols

The meaning of peace

by Hilary Karen

Suitable for Key Stage 2


To consider the meaning of the word ‘peace’ and the symbols that represent it.

Preparation and materials


  1. Ask the children to think about an occasion when they have argued with someone and found it difficult to resolve. Ask some children to share some of these experiences.

    Listen to a range of responses.

  2. Ask if anyone knows of any conflicts or wars taking place anywhere in the world. Explain that, unfortunately, conflicts are continuously occurring as humans try to share the world. (Note: the amount of detail given here needs to be tailored to the age and experiences of the pupils.)

  3. Explain that, whether an argument occurs between two people or between nations, the situation is still a conflict. Having conflicts is part of being human. If we did not have differences of opinion, we would never see anything in a new light or change a view that we have wrongly held. However, what is extremely important is the way in which a conflict is handled. If conflicts between large groups of people get out of hand, they can become bigger and bigger until they become wars. The way in which we manage conflict can enable people who have different opinions to work peacefully together for the better.

  4. Share the following descriptions of peace:
    - freedom from war
    - freedom from disputes
    - freedom from worry and anxiety
    - peace of mind
    - quietness, silence, stillness

  5. Over the years, various symbols have been designed to symbolize ‘peace’. Ask the children if they know any of these symbols.

    Listen to a range of responses.

  6. Show the following symbols one at a time and explain where the symbols originate.

    The dove and the olive branch. Both of these peace symbols originate in the Bible, from the story of Noah. After the rain had stopped, Noah sent a dove to bring a sign that the flood was over. The dove returned with an olive branch, which meant that the world was no longer covered in water, so there would be some dry land to live on (Genesis 8.11).

    The CND sign. This peace symbol was designed by an artist on behalf of the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament (CND). This organization has been campaigning against the development of nuclear weapons since the late 1950s. Many people felt that nuclear weapons, and the testing associated with them, were so dangerous that they sought to have their development stopped. The CND sign has become one of the best known peace symbols of our time.

    The victory hand. Historians believe that this sign was possibly used by the winners of chariot races in Roman times. The victory hand became a symbol of peace, particularly during the Second World War. It is used in very few cultures.

  7. Ask the children what they think of when they hear the word ‘peace’. Maybe they could design a symbol for a peaceful class or playground.

  8. In the Bible, in Matthew 5.6-8, it says that people who work for peace are happy. In John 15.11-12, Jesus says that we will be happy if we care for others.
    Most world religions value the importance of peace.

Time for reflection

How could you contribute to peace around the world? Maybe you could try harder to listen when someone has a different opinion to your own. Maybe you could walk away if you feel angry with someone. There are many little things that we can do to contribute to the peace of the world.

Dear God,
Thank you for giving us the ability to make others feel better.
Help us to share our lives together in peace.
Help us to love and care for those who need us.
Help us to care for our families and friends.
Please help us to play our parts in encouraging peace in the world.


‘Peace, perfect peace’ (Come and Praise, 53)

Publication date: June 2016   (Vol.18 No.6)    Published by SPCK, London, UK.
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