This activity allows students to discover the effects of poverty locally and the needs of those in their own community. Students will be reminded of those in need and participate in an activity to help them.
- Poster board
- Internet access for researching poverty statistics
- Gallon-size baggies
- Small toiletries, gloves, socks, gas cards, granola bars, etc.
45 minutes–1 hour (after all items are collected)
(Note: Donated items should be collected prior to implementing the procedure outlined below.)
- Ask students what they think about when they hear the word “poverty.” Record responses on the board.
- Explain that there are consistent poverty crises going on in your own community and in the United States each day.
- Show students websites that list poverty statistics, both in your community and in the nation. Discuss as a group. Then, have students go to the websites on their own.
- Students will make notes as they read through graphs and information.
- Students will create a “billboard” to show statistics they have learned and use it as a way to inform the public. They will make a plea to help those living in poverty by creating eye-catching phrases and illustrations.
- Students will present their “billboards” and discuss the thought processes behind them.
- Students will then make “homeless baggies” using the various items that have been collected. These will be donated to a local homeless shelter and/or handed out throughout the community.
- ProcessingWe hear about poverty around the world, but oftentimes students may forget those affected by poverty in areas closest to them. It is important for students to reflect on the needs of their community before trying to comprehend poverty on a global scale.
- Students really enjoy this project, especially when they get the opportunity to hand a bag to someone who is obviously in need.
- Students will write a journal entry about a need they see in their school that focuses on kindness. Discuss entries and make a list of things students suggest.
- Watch YouTube videos “Pay it Forward” and “How to Change the World With Kindness.” Discuss thoughts—Why is this important? What can this do for our school? What can this do for our world?
- Share journal entries and brainstorm some ways those ideas could be accomplished (e.g., posters about being kind in the cafeteria, making a promise to sit next to one new person a week/month, etc.) Students will be given options of how to spread the word about their ideas. Discuss and record ideas on the board to get thinking started:
- Write a thank-you note to someone who deserves more appreciation.
- Smile at the first three people you see.
- Help another student with their homework.
- Thank your custodian.
- Reach out to someone new.
- Hold the door open for at least one person.
- Send a card around the bus for everyone to sign, then give it to your bus driver as a thank-you.
- Bring coffee or treats for your teacher.
- Write an anonymous note of appreciation to one of the school employees, teachers, or students.
DeLana Parker is a sixth-grade language arts teacher and NJHS adviser at Charles T. Koontz Intermediate in Asheville, NC.