Day in the Life of a Homeless Person

3, 4, 5

This lesson will look at a day in the life of a homeless person and offer students a different point of view. It will demonstrate the importance of social justice and encourage students to adopt values and actions that help other people. While written for a Catholic Elementary School, this lesson may be easily adapted for public school use.

Lesson Rating 
PrintOne 45-Minute Session

The learner will seek solutions to help solve a social problem.


Sam and the Lucky Money byKaren Chinn


Chinn , Karen.  Sam and the Lucky Money. Lee and Low Books, 1997. ISBN: 1880000539



  1. Define three vocabulary words: homeless, helpfulness, and neighborhood.

  2. Read aloud Sam and the Lucky Money. This story is about a boy who has some "lucky money" to spend on Chinese New Year. This year he is allowed to spend it any way he wants. Although he considers many options and sometimes feels angry that he doesn’t have more money, he ultimately gives the money to a homeless man. This story encourages others to see homeless people with empathy and realize that one person can make a difference. Discuss the story and have students describe how the story made them feel.

  3. Review the Core Democratic Values (or the Corporal Works of Mercy for a Catholic School audience). Discuss what these say about their responsibilities in regard to homeless people. Please be sensitive to the possibility that some of your students may have some personal experience with homelessness.

    • Feed the hungry. Give drink to the thirsty. Clothe the naked. Shelter the homeless. Visit the sick. Visit the imprisoned. Bury the dead.

    • Everyone has the right to petition the government, equality, personal property, freedom of assembly, free speech, minority rights, pursuit of happiness as long as it doesn’t interfere with the common good, and the majority rules.
  4. Talk about ways to help the homeless in your community. Use the following questions as a guide for the discussion and an outline for the essays below.

    • What is the need? Who already helps to fill the need?
    • What talents or treasures are given or shared?
    • What goodness does the community experience from that giving or sharing? What is the reward for the one who shared?
    • What happens if the need isn’t met?
    • What are some ways you can make a difference?
  5. Optional: Show the video “Fly Away Home,” which is a Reading Rainbow episode surrounding the book by Eve Bunting about a homeless boy and his father who live in an airport. In addition to reading the book, the host interviews homeless families.

Cross Curriculum 

Students will write essays on the needs of homeless people in the community and their responsibility. Teachers may challenge students to take action on their proposals.

Philanthropy Framework

  1. Strand PHIL.I Definitions of Philanthropy
    1. Standard DP 02. Roles of Government, Business, and Philanthropy
      1. Benchmark E.1 Give examples of needs met by government, business, civil society, and family.
  2. Strand PHIL.II Philanthropy and Civil Society
    1. Standard PCS 07. Skills of Civic Engagement
      1. Benchmark E.2 Discuss an issue affecting the common good in the classroom or school and demonstrate respect and courtesy for differing opinions.
  3. Strand PHIL.IV Volunteering and Service
    1. Standard VS 01. Needs Assessment
      1. Benchmark E.1 Identify a need in the school, local community, state, nation, or world.