If you are teaching in a private school, or a very lucky public school, this infographic at visual.ly would be a great introduction to a segment on helping others that are in need, and exploring your community outside of you bubble. Even in today’s economy, there are still bubble all over the country that are not exposed to poverty. Adults are able to read the newspaper and are able to make themselves aware, but elementary aged kids, and even many high school aged kids, aren’t aware of how poor many people in our country, and in our own back yard truly are.
By using math and budgets already created, try to figure out how far your students can get on the necessities they believe are necessary. Have you students rank their budgets from most important to least, and see how far students would get on the income of a single adult considered living in poverty ($11,344). How far would their food budget go? What would they have to cut from their budget? what seemed liked necessities but no longer are?
Continue this lesson by exploring local communities who are living at or below the poverty line. This will require a high level of maturity, so it may not be wise to take them into the field. Instead, conduct interviews yourself or Skype in some willing participants to talk about things like budgeting, what they do for fun, and try to show your students how similar their lives are. Also, buddy up with a classroom with a high poverty rate to hear from students on what their lives are like. Use Skype and email to communicate with each other. Share interests, and what is being learned in school. Also create a community garden, and do anything else your students see fit to discuss, because especially at an elementary school age, the kids really aren’t very different.