A Chair for My Mother is the context for discussions about wants and needs. Students will also recognize how and why families and communities help each other in times of tragedy.
One Forty-Five Minute Class Period
The learner will:
- identify the difference between a want and a need.
- define story vocabulary.
- write a reflection paragraph.
- define philanthropy as giving or sharing time, talent, or treasure, or taking action for the common good.
None for this lesson.
Start a discussion about wants and needs with the following question: Which of the things you have are most important to you? Record the students' answers on the board. Tell the students to imagine that a family lost their home to a fire and lost all of their possessions. The people in the neighborhood want to help them replace their most important needs first. Ask the students to look at their list and choose the items that would be "needs" for this family. Star or underline these items on the list. The other items are considered "wants." Discuss the difference between wants and needs and guide the students to name the most basic needs (food, shelter, clothing). Teacher Note: The discussion of the fire may raise some sentiment in your classroom if your students have had some experence with a fire.
- Pass out copies of the Wants and Needs worksheet (see Attachment Two). The students use crayons to circle the needs. Talk about their answers, discussing their reasons if they made different choices from each other.
- Introduce the book A Chair for My Mother (see Bibliographical References). "Today we are going to read a story about a family that experienced a disaster. In a house fire, this family lost everything but each other and their cat. As we read, think about how the family and community work together by sharing time, talent, and treasure to help replace their needs. Listen for how they recover from this tragedy and how they make choices about needs versus wants."
- Display on the overhead projector the transparency of vocabulary words (see Attachment One). As a group, discuss the words and give examples of how the words are used in their lives.
- Read A Chair for my Mother aloud, stopping to call attention to details, such as the neighbors bringing them items to replace their lost items. Discuss whether the items are needs or wants.
- After reading, discuss the key concepts. How did the family react to the fire? (What did they think about first?) How and why did the neighbors help them? What of your possessions would you give a family that had lost everything? What items did the family need first? Was the chair a want or a need?
- Define philanthropy as giving or sharing time, talent, or treasure, or taking action for the common good. Talk about the philanthropy in the story.
- As a class, create a T-chart listing the wants and needs of the family that lost their home (see Attachment Three: T-Chart). After identifying wants and needs from this story, use another color to list additional wants and needs the community might supply to them to support the common good. Discuss whether each of these donated items is a contribution of time, talent, or treasure.
- Have students write a thank-you letter for the community support after the fire, from the perspective of the little girl. The letter should identify whether the support was in the form of time, talent, or treasure. Teacher note: For K and 1 students, a whole-group shared writing of the letter would satisfy the benchmarks.
Students write a reflection paragraph telling whether the chair was a want or a need. Students should include in their paragraph details supporting their decision.
Teacher Note: K-1 students may draw a picture of the chair and dictate an explanation of why it is a want or need.
Interactive Parent/Student Homework:
Send home a copy of Attachment Four: School-Home Connection. Families complete the chart together and discuss ways they have worked for the common good. Students share their families' ideas with the class the following day.
As a whole-class demonstration or with each student at a computer, go to www.michiganepic.org/coredemocratic/indexb.html Students watch (and listen to) a 4-screen comic on the common good and pursuit of happiness. At the end, there is a printable worksheet for students to complete on promoting the common good in school.
Lesson Developed By:Jennifer Gehreke
Look at the pictures. Circle the things you NEED with a red crayon. The other items are WANTS.
List wants and needs from A Chair for My Mother.
Tell your family the difference between a need and a want.
With your family, decide if the items listed below are wants or needs. Put a check in the appropriate box.
List ways your family has given time, talent or treasure to the community over the past year.
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