the be homeful project: Grades K-4 lesson plan (ages 5-9)
The big idea
Children at this age have a profound sense of fairness. Is it fair that some children become homeless? How can we make our community a fairer place?
This lesson plan will give students the opportunity to think about and use valuable critical thinking skills to explore what we can do to make the world fair.
In the real world
Homelessness exists in our country and in our towns. The more educated our students are on the topic, the more likely they are to react empathetically when they encounter homelessness. Ideally, these lessons will lead to an understanding of family homelessness and will instill in a student the knowledge and confidence to work towards ending it.
Time frame: 30-40 minutes
To educate students about homelessness and encourage thoughtful community engagement.
How do needs and wants affect how we live? [Compelling question based on "what makes a community?"]
Homelessness: without a home
Reasons that family can become homeless
if someone gets hurt
gas, groceries, and the cost of housing together can cost more than people can afford
Someone who doesn't have a home vs. "homeless person"
Warm up: Teacher hands out poetry worksheet. (INQ K-2.1)
Teacher will ask for volunteers to share (CIV 1.4-1.5)
Teacher will collect poems and ask students to put a star at the top if they want it to be read out load without their name attached
Introduction: Teacher will introduce the class to the concept of homelessness.
Does anybody know what it means to be homeless? Discuss with the class.
Balancing wants and needs: pictures of food, air conditioning, shoes, video games, a home (ECO1.1)
Ask the class to sort into wants vs. needs
What happens when you don't have enough money for all of your family's needs? (ECO 1.2)
Reading and class discussion: Teacher will read “Paddington.”
Teacher will create a mind map on the board: What comes to mind when you think of Paddington? What does he look like? Where is he from? Why is he at the train station? What is Paddington like? Put at least 5 characteristics on the board.
If students do not say that Paddington is homeless, add it to the mind map.
Teacher will explain that not having a home does not define Paddington, but it does make his life difficult.
What can we do for a friend in Paddington's shoes? (INQ K-2.16)
Tell a trusted adult e.g. teacher, school nurse. Who are your trusted adults?
Why are trusted adults important? (CIV 1.2)
Why do we help our friends who are having a tough time? (CIV 1.2)
Should we help others who are having a tough time, even if we don't know them personally? Who should help those people? (ECO 1.2)
How do members of our community help each other with needs?
What can we do to make sure it doesn't keep happening?
Closure: Hand out activity kits.
Reinforce the distinction between "helping the homeless" and "ending homelessness" by holding a "marmalade drive" in honor of Paddington's favorite food. Kids can teach their families what they have learned and build the social safety net for children in their communities by collecting change for their local "be homeful" fund, which frontline workers from the shelter system can access to help local families facing imminent homelessness remain housed rather than enter the shelter system in the first place. Visit www.behomeful.org/marmdrive to download your DIY marmalade kit.