Poverty, Homelessness, and Financial Literacy

Hey fifth graders!  I am out sick today, but am wishing so badly that I could be at school with you.  Please be incredibly respectful to Ms. Noble today, and follow this blog post for all of your classwork today.  Station one will require you to use your reflection packet (either you already have it, or it’s at the front of the room).  Station Two will require you to use one page in your interactive notebook.  Please use the next available page, and you can label it “homelessness” in your table of contents.

Station One: Spent

Today we are going to begin our unit on poverty, homelessness, and financial literacy.  First, I want you to go to www.playspent.org, and play a few rounds of this game.  You can play up to three times, and by the end of the third time, you should record your reflections (the paper is at the front of the room.  Here’s a digital copy if you need it).

This reflection is pretty straight forward, but the questions that I really want you to think about are numbers 5 and 6.  Really spend some time talking to your partner and thinking about these questions.

  1. Based on what you’ve learned during this game, what problems do you see with our country’s financial system? Is this a personal problem, or a societal problem?  
  2. What do you think should be done to fix this problem?  Is the solution personal or societal?  

When you finish this reflection packet, please turn it into the basket.

Station Two: Homelessness

It’s important to go in order at this station!  Please do the activities in order, and don’t watch the videos ahead of time.

Part One: First, take about 10-15 minutes to draw the first thing that comes to your head when you think of a homeless person.  Use one page of your interactive notebook to draw this picture (do not spend more than 10-15 minutes on this, it’s just a quick sketch).  On this same page, write 5-10 words that come to your head when you think of homelessness.


Part Two: The chances are, you have certain stereotypes in your head when you think of homeless people.  However, people can end up homeless for all kinds of reasons, and homelessness can look a bunch of different ways.  Think about when you played Spent.  It is incredibly hard to live on such a small amount of money, and if something goes wrong (a big medical bill, a disability, etc.), it can be easy to lose your home.

My guess is that in your picture, most of you drew adults (I could be wrong, but that’s my guess).  However, many children are homeless too.  A beautiful documentary was made about a teenager named Inocente, whose family was homeless for many years.  Let’s watch the trailer to her movie:


The movie Inocente won an Academy Award.  I think that part of the reason this movie was so impactful was because by showing us a different perspective of homelessness, it challenged the stigma associated with homelessness. We’re going to be using the word stigma a lot in this unit.  Here’s the definition.

Stigma: a mark of disgrace associated with a particular circumstance, quality, or person.

Try using this word in sentence with your partner.


Part Three: One of the best ways to fight back against negative stereotypes and the stigma of homelessness is to educate ourselves.  So we’re going to do just that!

Read this Newsela article, “Sleeping Under a Roof, but Homeless Still,” and answer the questions and the writing prompt.  I have left very specific annotations for you, so please respond to all of them!



Station Three: Getting Involved

While education is an incredibly powerful tool to fight against the stigma of homelessness, an even greater tool is building relationships and getting involved.  On April 5th, we will be taking a field trip to Community First Village.  Let’s take a look at what the Community First Village does:

Take some time to explore the Community First Village website, and I want you to focus specifically on the map of the village.

What kinds of buildings and community spaces are included in this village?  Why are these places significant?  Do any buildings stand out to you, as something you might not have thought to include?


Station Four: Thank You Cards

Thank you for working hard to get everything done!  We will continue talking about all of these things for the next few weeks.

Since you have finished all of your work, you may make thank you cards for our Dr. Seuss readers.  Ms. Green’s reader was Ashley Zimmermann.


Thank you for your hard work! I will see you bright and early Tuesday morning! Love, Ms. Green


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