1. Pre-teach the vocabulary.

Pre-teach relevant vocabulary, including human migration, immigrant, emigrant, refugee, and resettlement.

2. Build background.
Ask students if they’re familiar with Peter Pan’s Lost Boys—characters in the J.M. Barrie novel Peter Pan who formed a family and took care of each other in Never-Never Land. Explain that there is a group of over 25,000 young Dinka men who ran away from a civil war. These young men trekked across sub-Saharan Africa in search of safety, and eventually found homes in the United States. Relief workers called them the “Lost Boys” after the characters in the J.M. Barrie novel, and the media picked up on this; the group is now known collectively as “The Lost Boys of Sudan.” Review the vocabulary in this new context.

3. Have students locate Sudan on the map.
Ask students to locate Sudan on a wall map of the world. Point out northern and southern Sudan. Point out the homeland of the Dinka—in southern Sudan along the White Nile. Ask: What physical aspects of Sudan contribute to civil unrest? What cultural aspects of Sudan contribute to civil unrest? Explain to students that Sudan’s second civil war was caused by conflicts between northern and southern Sudan over oil and religion. Go to National Geographic's Sudan Facts page and invite volunteers to take turns reading aloud the information. Then discuss the historical, cultural, and geographic factors that contributed to Sudan’s civil war and some of the consequences the civil war—which lasted over twenty years—had on Sudan and its peoples, including orphaned children, violence, famine, and disease.

4. Introduce the film God Grew Tired of Us and the excerpt students will watch.
Explain to students that the film documents the story of the Lost Boys of Sudan as they fled civil war, spent a decade growing up in a Kenyan refugee camp, and were eventually resettled in the United States. Tell students that they will see an excerpt, called "From Sudan to the United States." The excerpt includes stories from the Kakuma refugee camp. If possible, show students the full film, God Grew Tired of Us, during class time. If you do not have enough time, encourage students to watch the film at home on their own.

5. Have students watch the excerpt and write about it.
Show students the excerpt and have them list their questions about the video and its content as they watch. Then ask students to write a brief summary describing who the Lost Boys are and what they experienced. Students’ summaries should include:

  • why the Lost Boys had to flee Sudan
  • reasons they could not stay in Ethiopia
  • what life was like in the refugee camp
  • what new things the Lost Boys experienced on the journey from Kenya to the U.S.

Subjects & Disciplines

Learning Objectives

Students will:

  • define vocabulary terms
  • explain who the Lost Boys of Sudan are and how they got that name
  • locate northern Sudan, southern Sudan, and the Dinka homeland on a world map
  • describe the experiences of the Lost Boys in Sudan and after they fled Sudan

Teaching Approach

  • Learning-for-use

Teaching Methods

  • Discussions
  • Hands-on learning
  • Visual instruction
  • Writing

Skills Summary

This activity targets the following skills:

Connections to National Standards, Principles, and Practices

National Council for Social Studies Curriculum Standards

National Geography Standards

  • Standard 13:  How the forces of cooperation and conflict among people influence the division and control of Earth's surface
  • Standard 9:  The characteristics, distribution, and migration of human populations on Earth's surface

What You’ll Need

Materials You Provide

  • Paper
  • Pencils
  • Pens
  • Wall map of the world

Required Technology

  • Internet Access: Required
  • Tech Setup: 1 computer per classroom, Projector, Speakers
  • Plug-Ins: Flash

Physical Space

  • Classroom


  • Large-group instruction

Background Information

The Lost Boys of Sudan are a group of Dinka youth who fled civil war in their native country, spent a decade growing up in a Kenyan refugee camp, and were eventually resettled in the United States. The Dinka are the largest ethnic group in southern Sudan.

Prior Knowledge

  • None


civil war

conflict between groups in the same country or nation.


person who moves from their existing country or region to a new country or region.

human migration

the movement of people from one place to another.


person who moves to a new country or region.


person who flees their home, usually due to natural disaster or political upheaval.


transportation of people to a new residential area, usually following a natural or man-made disaster.