Close this search box.

Quarry Simulation


The leader should set up this series of activities in a room, to simulate different aspects of mining and quarrying. People should move around in small groups doing the different tasks. You can print or write out the instructions for each station. Ask people to put equipment back as they found it after they have finished.

Background information

Working in mines and quarries can be a very dirty, tiring, dangerous job for anyone to do, but especially for a child. An estimated one million children work in small scale mining and quarrying around the world. These children work in some of the worst conditions imaginable, where they face serious risk of work-related death, injury or chronic illness. They will carry heavy awkward loads, get dust in their eyes, be exposed to the sun for long hours, and do many hours of hard labour hitting stones to break them into smaller pieces.

They may be working underground, with unstable support structures. They may be exposed to toxic chemicals like lead or mercury, or stand all day in water. Mining often takes place in remote areas without schools and social services, and far away from family and community support. Under International Labour Organisation Convention No. 182, working in mines and quarries can be defined as one of the worst forms of child labour– exposing children to severe occupational hazards and often depriving them of basic freedoms.

Activity stations

  • Breaking up rocks – The children have to tear a piece of cardboard into small pieces, to represent breaking up a large rock into smaller gravel. They take pieces to the leader, who will tell them if the pieces are small enough. (If they fit through a hole on the test card). They will get sent away to make them smaller if they are not small enough. In real life, children would be breaking up rocks with hammers and chisels. This can give them cuts, and cause damage to their eyes from flying chips of rock. (The leader will need a piece of card with a 1cm hole cut in it – but do not tell the group the required size beforehand.)
  • Lifting a heavy bucket – Fill the bucket with stones/bricks etc. Take it in turns to lift it up – be careful to demonstrate bending down properly (by bending your knees) so they do not damage their backs. Ask them to consider: would you be able to walk with the bucket? Can you imagine carrying buckets of rocks like this all day? Child miners often have to carry buckets weighing 10- 25 kg, for around 600m. This causes damage to their muscles and skeleton while they are still growing.
  • Crawling through a tunnel – The children should take it in turns to crawl along the tunnel. How does it feel? Can you see? Do you have room to move? Imagine how it would feel to work in there all day. Children are employed in mines because they are smaller and able to fit through tiny tunnels. They are at risk from the tunnels collapsing or rocks falling on them. (Make a dark, narrow tunnel out of chairs/blankets/cardboard boxes, etc.)
  • Sieving sand/soil – Take a few handfuls of sand/soil and sieve them to find the buttons. How easy is it to do? How many buttons can you find? Imagine you had to do this same task all day, under the burning sun. Some children have to do this job to find precious stones or metals. The equipment is usually heavy because it is designed for adults to use. (Hide some buttons in a bucket of sand or soil)
  • Dusty air – Shake the jar, and look what happens inside. Ask the children to take the lid off and watch as the dusty air escapes, then imagine that this is the air they are breathing in. What would it be like to inhale dust and particles all day? Children working in tunnels underground are exposed to excessive amounts of dust, leading to severe breathing problems and eventually lung disease. (Put a few spoonfuls of flour/talcum powder into a glass jar with a lid).

Circletime Discussion Points:

  • What did they find most difficult? Are there any activities they could do all day?
  • Point out that because the activities were ‘new’ for them, and they only did them for a few minutes, they might have been ‘fun’. However it is not fun for the children who have to do this kind of work every day. Many of them do not even directly earn any money, as it goes towards their parents’ earnings, and they may be unable to go to school.
  • Talk about some of the reasons why children might have to work in mines, and how it can be stopped.
  • What are other examples of child exploitation?

Resources Required

Old cardboard, card with hole, bucket, stones/bricks, large boxes/blankets etc to make tunnel, sieve, bucket of sand/soil, buttons, glass jar, flour/talcum powder, and resources page.


Share this Activity:

Our website uses cookies. By continuing to browse the site you agree to our cookie notice

Skip to content