Traveling on the Orphan Train

Grades: 
6, 7, 8

Students will identify how the Orphan Train was an example of a philanthropic effort to aid children who are homeless, and investigate how that philanthropic effort continues today.

Lesson Rating 
0
Duration 
PrintOne to Two Fifty-Five Minute Class Periods
Objectives 

The learner will:

  • identify and research agencies and organizations that provide services to children in need in the community.
  • compare and contrast philanthropic efforts to meet the needs of children who are homeless in the late 1800s and current efforts.
  • define philanthropy and identify its relationship to children who are homeless.
Materials 
  • Projected and student copies of Homelessness: Then and Now - Reasons and Solutions (handout)
  • Projected and student copies of a Venn Diagram with circles labeled Homelessness in the 1800 and Homelessness Now
  • Computers with Internet access and/or print materials concerning the Children's Aid Society and the Orphan Train, and current material concerning aid to homeless children
  • List of possible websites for Orphan Train and aid to children who are homeless. One useful website is: http://www.kancoll.org/articles/orphans/
  • Photos of children on the Orphan Train (available on the Internet)
Bibliography 
  • Covenant House https://www.covenanthouse.org/
  • National Coalition for the Homeless: http://nationalhomeless.org/
  • America's Homeless Children: New Outcasts. The Better Homes Fund. 1999. 181 Wells Avenue, Newton, MA 02459-3344 ISBN # 0967216508
  • Panagopoulos, Janie. A Faraway Home: An Orphan Train Story. Edco Publishing,  2006. ISBN: 10 0974941263

Instructions

Print
  1. Provide background information regarding the reform movements for homeless children in the 1800s (Children's Aid Society, New York Foundling Hospital - Sisters of Charity).

  2. Explain the purpose of the lesson, which is to compare the Children's Aid Society and the New York Foundling Hospital to current philanthropic efforts to assist homeless children. Distribute Homelessness: Then and Now - Reasons and Solutions (handout).Arrange the class into teams of four. Each group should have a recorder, timekeeper, facilitator and reporter. Ask half of the teams to brainstorm reasons why there were homeless children in the late 1800s and speculate on what solutions were used at the time. The other half should brainstorm the reasons and solutions for homeless children today. Teams should put their answers on their charts. Take five to seven minutes for this activity. Have groups report on their findings (five to ten minutes). Fill in Attachment One during the whole class discussion.

  3. Use the Internet sites to obtain articles about the orphan train. Have students read the articles and fill in the Venn Diagram. Allow 25-30 minutes for this activity.

  4. Define philanthropy as individuals and organizations providing their time, talent, and/or treasures intended for the common good throughout history and around the world. Have students use examples from their research showing how homelessness and philanthropy can be related.

  5. Closure: Pose the question: "How would you have felt about being put on an Orphan Train? Your answer to this question is your ticket out of the room today."

Assessment 

Teacher observation and completion of graphic organizers.

Cross Curriculum 

The teacher and students may choose any one of these projects. Students will research and identify agencies and organizations that provide services to children in the community. Students will determine and produce a method of disseminating information to the general student population after interviewing agency representatives who deal with children who are homeless. Students will visit/perform service for a local homeless shelter or other organizations that provide services to children who are homeless. Students will participate in the Empty Bowls Project.

Philanthropy Framework

  1. Strand PHIL.I Definitions of Philanthropy
    1. Standard DP 01. Define Philanthropy
      1. Benchmark MS.1 Define philanthropy as individuals and organizations providing their time, talent, and/or treasures intended for the common good throughout history and around the world. Give examples.
  2. Strand PHIL.II Philanthropy and Civil Society
    1. Standard PCS 06. Philanthropy in History
      1. Benchmark MS.6 Trace the historic roots of philanthropy and describe how changes in society led to the development of organized philanthropy.
  3. Strand PHIL.III Philanthropy and the Individual
    1. Standard PI 01. Reasons for Individual Philanthropy
      1. Benchmark MS.4 Identify and describe the actions of how citizens act for the common good.