Preparation for Teachers
Prior to teaching this lesson, preview the Web sites so that you are familiar with their content. Bookmark the Web sites used in the lesson on each computer in your classroom or lab. Load the Shockwave plug-in onto each computer as well.
Make copies of the Daily Personal Consumption and Use Log, as well as the Getting Started Focus Sheet for each student in your class.
Daily Personal Consumption and Use Log -- download
Getting Started Focus Sheet -- download
Make copies of the Homestead Inventory pages (one set for each group of four or five students in your class).
Homestead Inventory (copied, cut into squares, and inserted in an envelope) -- download
Traveler's Freight Roster and Bankbook: Railroad -- download
Traveler's Freight Roster and Bankbook: Wagon -- download
Traveler's Freight Roster and Bankbook: Steamboat -- download Cut the copies of the inventory into individual items. Put one complete set of the inventory into an envelope for each group.
When using media, provide your students with a FOCUS FOR MEDIA INTERACTION, a specific task to complete and/or information to identify during or after viewing of Web sites or other multimedia elements.
Step 1. Explain to your students that to prepare them for an upcoming lesson, you will need them to complete a detailed daily log for the next week. In this log, they will need to record a) what they eat (and, if possible how much), b) what they wear each day (noting any repeated garments), and c) any tools they use. Explain to your students that for the purposes of this activity, a "tool" is defined as any instrument they use in completion of their day-to-day responsibilities and obligations (schoolbooks, pens, lawn mowers, dishwashers, etc. could all be considered tools).
Step 2. Distribute the Daily Personal Consumption and Use Log to your students. Tell them to record their activities in the log.
Step 3. Wait one week. Remind your students to fill in their logs daily.
Step 4. On the floor in your classroom next to the wall, create a rectangle out of masking tape. Make the rectangle five feet long and three feet wide. On the wall, mark off a point that is two feet above the floor.
Step 5. Ask your students to get out their completed logs. Ask your students if anything surprises them as they look at their completed logs. Did they consume or use more or less than they thought they would? How many different tools did they use? How many different garments did they wear? (Student responses will vary.)
Step 6. Tell your students that in 1997, the Food and Drug Administration reported that the average American consumes the following during a one-year period:
Record these statistics on the computer, overhead projector, or board.
- 586 pounds of milk and dairy products
- 394 pounds of vegetables
- 199 pounds of meat
- 193 pounds of products made from flour, grains, or cereals
- 121 pounds of fresh fruit
Step 7. Ask your students if they think these numbers are reasonable. Based on their daily logs, do your students agree that they could consume this much during the course of one year? Could the logs be used to make estimations of student food consumption? How?
(Students could estimate the weight of the foods that they recorded in their logs, divide the foods into the above categories, and multiply by 52 weeks.)
Step 8. Ask your students to examine the list of clothing that they wore over the course of one week. Do they feel that they change their clothes more often or less often than the average American? Why?
(Student responses will vary.)
Step 9. Ask your students if the tools they used over the course of one week were necessary for the completion of their day-to-day activities, or simply convenient.
(Student responses will vary.)
Step 10. Tell your students that, hypothetically, they have been invited to compete in a new reality TV show. The challenge of the series is to pack food, clothing, and tools into the trunk of a car, and to survive for five months in an isolated house with no trips to the store and no outside visitors. Point out the masking tape rectangle on the floor, and tell your students that they would have to pack all of their supplies for the next FIVE MONTHS into the space delineated by the tape. Based on the information they discovered in their log, would they be able to do it? (Student responses will vary.)
Step 11. Ask your students what they would need to change about their consumption and use of food, clothing, and tools if they were going to attempt to meet the challenge of the show. What would they have to eliminate? (Student responses will vary.)
Step 12. Ask your students to give examples of any time in history when people have had to reassess their consumption and use of food, clothing, and tools to meet economic, political, and personal challenges. (Students may mention rationing during World War II, the Irish Potato Famine, the Great Depression, the Dust Bowl, the Civil War, etc.)