What Is Child Labor?

Grade Levels: 4 - 6


  • Students will learn about the subject of child labor.
  • Students will take action against child labor.


  • Kids at Work (a list of jobs children have historically performed.)


  1. Write the International Labor Organization definition of child labor on the board:

    • Full-time work that is performed by kids under the age of 15
    • Work that prevents kids from attending school
    • Work that is hazardous to kids' physical, mental, or emotional health

  2. Explain to students that "child labor" takes place when children are forced to do work that harms them in some way.
  3. Go over the Kids at Work handout with the students.
  4. Discuss the International Labor Organization definition of child labor with the students and ask them to share their thoughts. Have they ever heard any stories on the news about child labor? Did they know that child labor had been used in the past?
  5. Invite students to celebrate Labor Day this year by taking action against child labor. Students may choose to:

    • Spread the word by sharing what they've learned with other people.
    • Make posters to inform others about the injustices of child labor.
    • Find out more by visiting Kids Can Free the Children , a children's rights foundation that was created by a 12-year-old Canadian boy.

by Sydney Donahoe

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