We Need More than Money

3, 4, 5

The purpose of this lesson is to have students identify why private resources are needed when volunteering and/or serving the community.

Lesson Rating 
PrintOne to Two Forty-Five Minute Class Periods

The learner will:

  • identify examples of private resources.
  • explain why people face scarcity when making decisions.
  • determine the opportunity cost for making personal decisions.
  • A Chair for My Mother by Vera Williams
  • How Can You Contribute? (Attachment One)

Williams, Vera B. A Chair for My Mother. New York: Mulberry Books, 1982.


  1. Anticipatory Set: Tell students to imagine that they arrive home from school one afternoon only to find fire trucks surrounding their home. All the people and pets from inside the home are safely waiting outside. The inside of the house is badly damaged and most of the contents are ruined. Ask students to think about two items or possessions in their home that they would truly miss. Have students share their thoughts.

  2. Teacher note: The lessons in this unit are designed to stand alone as instruction for raising private resources for a volunteer/service project. The lessons can be adapted to a specific volunteer/service project in which your class is involved. The volunteer/service project suggested in this unit revolves around helping a family who has lost all their possessions in a house fire. Contact a local homeless shelter, Red Cross, or other nonprofit organizations that assist families in need to locate a specific family for whom to raise resources.

  3. Read the story A Chair for My Mother by Vera B. Williams. This story is about a fire that destroys the home and possessions of a young girl, her mother, and her grandmother. The story describes how the community pulls together to help the mother and her daughter, but they still are missing a comfortable chair. Discussion questions:

      1. "For what do you think the little girl, mother, and grandmother are saving?"
      2. "How does the community help Rosa and her mother? What kind of private resources are people donating?" (people volunteer food, furniture, labor)
      3. "Do you think Rosa, her mom, and grandmother would be happy without the chair?"
      4. "If Rosa's mother did not have the money, how would they have been able to save for the chair?" (They needed to face some kind of scarcity or sacrifice to save the money. They could have put money in the bank or established a specific account for the chair. Rules would have to be made with the jar: once the money goes in, it can't come out until the jar is filled.)
      5. "Because the family made the economic decision to save for the chair, what sacrifices do you think they had to make?" (no new clothes, no movies, no new toys, etc. which are mostly wanted goods. They probably would not sacrifice needs like food and shelter.)
      6. "If you were a friend of Rosa's and wanted to contribute your weekly allowance to her chair fund, what would be the opportunity cost of your personal decision?" (Students may respond that they would have had to give up buying baseball cards, could not go to the movies, had to wait longer to buy the latest toy, etc.)
  4. Explain that without private resources Rosa, her mother, and grandmother would not have been able to rebuild their home environment as quickly as they did.

  5. Brainstorm what the term private resources means. (Private resources are the person, asset, material, or capital which can be used to accomplish a goal or fulfill a need.)

  6. Using How Can You Contribute? (Attachment One), have students chart different private resources they could contribute to a family in need like Rosa's.


Use How Can You Contribute? (Attachment One) Rubrics Name at least five private resources that could help a family in need. (Award one point for each resource named, maximum five points.) Explain why it is necessary to face scarcity when deciding how to save money. (Award one point for an explanation. Responses will vary - money is being set aside for a specific purpose, less money is available for personal use.) Identify the opportunity cost in making a personal decision in four different situations. (Award one point for each opportunity cost identified.)

Philanthropy Framework

  1. Strand PHIL.IV Volunteering and Service
    1. Standard VS 04. Raising Private Resources
      1. Benchmark E.1 Identify why private resources (volunteers and money) are needed.