Poverty Lesson Plan: Health

Time: 40-55 minutes, depending on activity chosen
Ages: 4-11, depending on activity chosen

Lesson overview and preparation

Prepare for the lesson and gather supplies.

The problem: Kids who live in poverty get sick more often than other kids, and they can’t always afford medicine or doctor visits.
My sponsored child: Our sponsored child’s family might have more health problems than we have.
What God says: Jesus had compassion for sick people and healed them during His time on Earth. He wants us to have compassion too.

The Problem My Sponsored Child Activity What God Says
Poverty focus: Kids who live in poverty get sick more often than other kids, and they can’t always afford medicine or doctor visits. Sponsored child connection: Our sponsored child’s family might have more health problems than we have. Health Matters search and find

Activity time: 10 minutes (Ages 8-11) 25 minutes
Bible focus: Jesus had compassion for sick people and healed them during His time on Earth. He wants us to have compassion too.

Memory verse: Ephesians 4:32
Supplies:
  • glitter
  • soap
  • water
Supplies: none Supplies: pencil, Health Matters printable Supplies: Bible
Prep (optional): Read “Responding to Malaria” (3-minute read) for extra context. Prep: none Prep: Print out the Health Matters printable. (ages 4-7 will do only the first activity) Prep: none

The Problem

Discussion and application, 15 minutes

You say: Today we’ll learn why the world’s poorest people also have the worst health.

Do you remember the last time you took medicine for a sickness? [Wait for answers.] When did you go see a doctor? [Wait for answers.] Some people are so poor they can’t afford medicine or doctor visits.

There are usually more germs in poor neighborhoods. Sometimes sewage runs in the streets. Sometimes children have to work in trash dumps to find items to sell so their families can have money.

Application: Let’s see how easy it is to spread germs. We will use glitter in place of germs. [Shake a little bit of glitter in your child’s hand and then your own. Touch your child’s arm, shoulder and leg to show how the glitter spreads. You can let the child touch you with glittery hands too if you’d like.]

What happened to the glitter germs that were on my [or our] hands? [Wait for answers.] If those were real germs, they could have made you sick. And if we were poor, we wouldn’t be able to afford medicine to get better.

Now we’ll wash our hands. I’ll wash my hands with only water, and you’ll use soap and water. We’ll see which way washes away the most germs. [Wash hands in a sink.] What worked better to get rid of the glitter germs? [Wait for answers.]

Thankfully, [sponsored child’s name] learns at a Compassion center how important it is to wash [his/her] hands with soap and water. Let’s find out about some of the health problems [he/she] might face in [sponsored child’s region].

My Sponsored Child

Discussion, 5 minutes

You say: Now we’ll learn a little more about some of the big health problems in [sponsored child’s name’s] region.

If your sponsored child lives in Africa, you say: Malaria is a serious sickness that harms many African children. A certain type of mosquito that bites at nighttime carries the disease. Malaria causes high fevers and even death. If families could afford a net to sleep under, they could keep mosquitoes from biting them. But poor people can’t afford nets. Others might not know that malaria is caused by mosquito bites.

If your sponsored child lives in Asia, you say: Some poor Asian families don’t live close to a doctor’s office or hospital. The poorest people in Asia don’t have money to pay for cars or taxis to get to the doctor. So even if they could afford to pay for a doctor visit or medicine, they might not have money to get there.

If your sponsored child lives in Central America or the Caribbean: Neighborhoods in the poorest areas of Central America and the Caribbean are often dirty. Some have raw sewage running in the streets. Coming into contact with sewage can cause many serious sicknesses. Landfills are other dirty areas that poor children spend time in. Many kids help make money for their families by digging in landfills where people dump trash. Sometimes they find items to sell for money. But they also touch a lot of germs, and they are at risk of getting cut by sharp objects.

If your sponsored child lives in South America: Some families can’t afford to send their kids to school. School is where many kids learn lots about health, like how to avoid germs. They also might learn what causes different diseases. School uniforms and supplies cost money. Some schools also charge students to attend. So the poorest families can’t pay for school. What have you learned about health from your teachers? [Wait for answers.]

 

Afterward, you say: Those are just some reasons that poor people are more likely to get sick, suffer and die than people who aren’t poor. Thanks to Compassion sponsors, churches help sponsored children stay healthy. Sponsored kids in areas with malaria learn to sleep under bed nets, and Compassion gives them nets if their parents can’t afford them. They also learn to avoid raw sewage. They go to school and get extra tutoring at their Compassion centers, where they learn all about health and cleanliness. A doctor visits them regularly. Sponsorship also helps pay for medicine that children need.

Now we’ll do an activity to have fun while learning more about health around the world.

Activity

Printable activity sheet, 10-25 minutes, depending on age

Ages 4-7:
Before you begin: Print out the Health Matters printable (this age group will do only the first activity on the printable).
You say: [Read the intro paragraph on the activity sheet, and then follow the instructions. When the child finds one of the hidden pictures, read the description next to it to teach them how they help by being a Compassion sponsor.]

Ages 8-11:
Before you begin: Print out the Health Matters printable and give the child a pencil.
You say: [Read the intro paragraph and instructions for all three activities, and then give the child time to complete them.]

What God Says

Bible story, memory verse and prayer, 10 minutes

You say: Now that you know that many children living in poverty have worse health than children who aren’t poor, let’s find out what the Bible says. During His time on Earth, Jesus healed many sick people because he had compassion for them. “Compassion” means caring about the pain and suffering that others are feeling.

[Read Matthew 20:29-34 out loud. If your child can read, you can let him/her read it out loud.] Why did Jesus heal the blind men’s eyes? [Wait for child to say it was because he had compassion on them/for them.]

Let’s memorize a Bible verse to remind us to be compassionate like Jesus. Repeat this verse after me:

Shortened memory verse for ages 4-7: “Be kind and compassionate to one another,” Ephesians 4:32. [Wait for child to repeat, then say it again and have child repeat it again.]

Be kind and what to one another? [Wait for “compassionate.”] Good, now repeat after me one more time. [Repeat the verse and wait for the child to repeat it.]

Memory verse for ages 8-11: “Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you,” Ephesians 4:32. [Wait for child to repeat, then say it again and ask child to repeat it again.]

Be kind and what to one another? [Wait for “compassionate.”] Forgiving each other as Who forgave you? [Wait for “Christ God,” “Christ” or God.”] Good, now repeat after me one more time. [Repeat the verse and wait for the child to repeat it.]

Afterward, you say: Let’s pray for [sponsored child’s name] and other children living in poverty. [If your children are used to leading prayers out loud, they might want to say their own prayer. Otherwise read the following prayer out loud.]

Dear God, thank you for being kind and compassionate toward me. Please help me to do the same for others. I’m so glad I have the medicine I need when I get sick. Thank You for the food and soap I need to stay healthy. Please keep [sponsored child’s name] healthy. Please teach [him/her] how to stay well, and give [his/her] family the medicine they need. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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