For Educators

Homeless in America – Background

Overview

In this lesson plan, elementary students develop an understanding of what it means to be homeless and why people become homeless. Using various resources, including video segments from Religion & Ethics, books, and community guest speakers, students explore different perspectives on the homeless, including the issue of whether or not they should be arrested and taken off the streets. As a culminating activity, students examine different methods of helping the homeless and then select one, which they will carry out.

NOTE: To invite family participation and alert parents/guardians to their children’s possible concerns around the issue of homelessness, a letter can be sent home. A sample letter has been provided; it may be adapted or used as is.

Grade Level:

Grades 3-5, with adaptations for younger children

Time Allotment:

1-2 weeks.

NOTE: This lesson can carry over anywhere from a few days to two weeks, depending on the level of interest and commitment to the topic.

Subject Matter:

This topic offers tie-ins to many curriculum areas: social studies/geography (habitats, ecosystems, economics, social structures); history (settlement and urbanization); science/health (links of homelessness with disease, characteristics of a healthy home environment); mathematics (collecting and tabulating data, understanding statistics); and language arts (interviewing, writing factual and opinion essays, researching and supporting a position).

Learning Objectives

Students will:

  • Demonstrate understanding of the extent of the problem of homelessness in their nation and their community.
  • Name at least three possible reasons why people become homeless.
  • Name at least five ways in which homelessness adversely affects people.
  • Articulate ideas and explore ethical and moral issues related to society’s treatment of the homeless.
  • Identify at least three things that people can do to reduce homelessness and help the homeless.

Standards

This lesson was prepared by: Kathleen Cochran, Ed.M.