Helping Hands Across the World (5th Grade)

3, 4, 5

Raise awareness of the needs of others who are unable to provide a balanced nutritious diet for their own families. Students learn about the Heifer Project that provides families with resources and education so they can have nutritious food and earn a living within their own communities.

PrintOne 50 minute class period

The learner will:

  • respond to the stories Beatrice's Goat and Give a Goat
  • compare and contrast characters.
  • list ways he/she can conserve resources (make choices) in the face of scarcity.
  • define the terms philanthropy, poverty, scarcity, stewardship and opportunity cost.
  • create an advertisement to support the service learning activity they have chosen.
  • a read-aloud copy of Beatrice’s Goat by Page McBrier (see Bibliographical References).
  • a read-aloud copy of Give a Goat by Jan West Schrock (see Bibliographical References).
  • 12” x 18” white drawing paper for every 2-3 students
  • crayons, markers, or other art media
Teacher Preparation 

It is important to be sensitive to the possibility that someone in your class may have some personal experience with homelessness, hunger and poverty.

  • McBrier, Page. Beatrice’s Goat. New York: Atheneum Books for Young Readers, 2001. ISBN: 0689824602
  • Schrock, Jan West . Give a Goat . Tilbury House Publishers, 2008. ISBN-10: 0884483096,  ISBN-13: 978-0884483090
  • Bregoli, Jane. The Goat Lady. Tilbury House Puvlishers, 2008. ISBN-10: 0884483096, ISBN-13: 978-0884483090
  • Heifer International 


  1. Anticipatory Set: Explain that you are going to read a true story about a girl named Beatrice who not only didn’t get three nutritious meals every day, but also did not have money to go to school. Read the story Beatrice's Goat. Stop periodically as you read and discuss similarities and differences between Beatrice and the students in the class. Locate Uganda, where Beatrice lives, on the world map.

  2. After reading the story discuss the terms poverty and hunger. Have the learners share what they think the terms mean. Knowing that this story takes place in a faraway country of Uganda, ask the students if they think any children in the United States live in poverty and hunger? Lead them to the idea that there are children in the United States, in their community and even perhaps in their own school who live in poverty and are hungry.

  3. Tell the children that an organization named Heifer International gave Beatrice’s family the goat. Heifer International uses money that is donated by philanthropists (people who give time, talent or treasure in order to promote the common good) to purchase these animals.

  4. Ask students to propose why an organization like Heifer International would give an animal to a family. How would giving goats, and/or cows help the families? (The family has milk to drink and to sell to get money to buy other things that the family needs. When the goat has babies these can be sold for money or given to help another family.)

  5. Define stewardship as the wise use of resources. Discuss how the families that receive the animals are stewards.

  6. Introduce the economic concepts of scarcity (the lack of a commodity, such as money, food, education, housing, etc.) and opportunity cost (making a choice that eliminates another choice). Relate the concepts to personal issues: have the students list ways that they can conserve limited resources, such as not wasting water by letting it run, not taking more than they can use or eat,or riding bikes instead of using a car ride.

  7. Share the second book Give a Goat with the class. This is a story of a fifth grade class who's teacher reads them the book Beatrice's Goat. The book tells how the class developed a service learning project and raised funds to "buy" a goat for Heifer International while other classes collected other items to donate and raise money for other giving projects.

  8. After reading the book challenge the students to brainstorm creative ideas that they can use to address the need for food in their own community.


Students' creation of an advertisement that shows the benefits of the Heifer Project will serve as the assessment for this lesson. This advertisement may be use to promote a service learning project based on one of the Heifer International: Giving Programs if that is what the class decided to do.

Cross Curriculum 

Students come to a consensus on voluntary action to address an identified need related to poverty, hunger, and homelessness.

Philanthropy Framework

  1. Strand PHIL.I Definitions of Philanthropy
    1. Standard DP 01. Define Philanthropy
      1. Benchmark E.1 Define philanthropy as the giving and sharing of time, talent, or treasure intended for the common good.
    2. Standard DP 02. Roles of Government, Business, and Philanthropy
      1. Benchmark E.6 Explain why acting philanthropically is good for the community, state, nation, or world.
    3. Standard DP 03. Names and Types of Organizations within the Civil Society Sector
      1. Benchmark E.2 Name an example of a civil society charitable organization.
  2. Strand PHIL.II Philanthropy and Civil Society
    1. Standard PCS 02. Diverse Cultures
      1. Benchmark E.4 Demonstrate listening skills.
    2. Standard PCS 03. Philanthropy and Economics
      1. Benchmark E.13 Describe limited resources and scarcity.
  3. Strand PHIL.III Philanthropy and the Individual
    1. Standard PI 01. Reasons for Individual Philanthropy
      1. Benchmark E.3 Define stewardship and give examples.
      2. Benchmark E.4 Give an example of how citizens act for the common good.