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Migrants by Issa Watanabe – Wordless picturebook KS2 activities

What's included?

Three-page PDF featuring cross-curricular KS2 activity ideas

Key Stage



Years 3-6

Migrants by Issa Watanabe is a hauntingly beautiful picture book for KS2 about a challenging journey through a dark landscape. This download includes a PDF of cross-curricular activity ideas, based on the book.

There’s an overarching narrative for children to discover in Migrants by Issa Watanabe. However, reading the story isn’t the only way of taking meaning from this book.

Every illustration creates its own little world in a freeze-frame that really does repay close looking, so you may want to spend more time than usual on each spread.

And where there’s a ‘gap’ between one illustration and the next, exploratory activities and discussion will help children generate ideas about what’s going on.

However you approach this book, you’ll want to make sure everyone can see the pictures clearly. Try using a visualizer to project the pages onto a wall, or group children around helpers with extra copies.

By looking closely and exploring the ideas generated, children will interrogate possibilities, express opinions, consider other points of view and increase their vocabulary. These experiences often lead to richer writing outcomes.

What is Migrants by Issa Watanabe about?

Across the pages of Migrants by Issa Watanabe walk more than 30 species of animals and birds, each dressed in distinctive items of clothing and standing upright.

Adults care for young ones who cannot be their children. A sense of mutual attention and support is obvious. The author portrays every traveller with dignity and respect.

A childlike skeleton swathed in a floral cloak and a large blue ibis follow them. Looking oddly vulnerable, Death does little more than observe the scene until the migrants board a boat.

When it capsizes, a rabbit washes up on the beach, and Death and the ibis cradle her in a powerful image that speaks of care and peace, as well as loss. The travellers have arrived, but where? And at what cost?

Wordless format

In Migrants, Peruvian artist Issa Watanabe addresses troubling contemporary issues by placing them somewhere timeless, far beyond our world. There’s a sense of dreamlike dislocation about these spreads.

Much is left unshown. The wordless format allows readers to process ideas at their own pace and according to their own experiences.

Our instinct to protect can be strong, but many children welcome opportunities to talk about things that matter, and may do so with unexpected insight and maturity.

Carey Fluker Hunt is a freelance writer, creative learning consultant and founder of Cast of Thousands, a teachers’ resource featuring a selection of the best children’s books and related cross-curricular activities.

Resources for Migrants by Issa Watanabe
Migrants by Issa Watanabe – Wordless picturebook KS2 activities
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