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Giving Thanks:
A Compare-and-Contrast Lesson


Arts & Humanities
--Language Arts
--Visual Arts
Educational Technology
--Family Life
Social Studies
--Current Events



Brief Description

A powerful video gets students reflecting on their lives of affluence when compared to children in other parts of the world.


Students will

  • reflect on a video that juxtaposes their way of life with the way of life of kids who have nothing compared to them.
  • compare and contrast their lives with those of children who endure lives of poverty every day.


teenage affluenza, giving thanks, compare, contrast, material goods, critical thinking

Materials Needed

  • Teenage Affluenza video: see video below, also available on YouTube. You will need a projection device attached to your computer to share the video with students.

Lesson Plan

This activity might be a good one for Thanksgiving time, or any time.

Start the activity by posing one or more of these questions to your students:

• Do you think you have it better or worse than lots of other kids around the world?
• Do you ever think that you might "have it easy" compared to some other kids?
• Are you sometimes less appreciative of your way of life than you should be?
• Do you sometimes put pressure on family to purchase things you don't absolutely need to have?

After a short and frank discussion of one or more of those questions, share this video with students without any further introduction.


This video was produced for 40-Hour Famine, a program in which Australian youth go without something in order to raise money to help children who are suffering the effects of the Global Food Crisis in Nepal, Kenya, and other countries. You can find the video on YouTube.

After viewing the video, ask students for their first reactions to it. Write on a board or chart paper some of the students comments. It should be clear from their comments that they "get" the video's message. The video pokes fun at typical teens by juxtaposing the "problems" they face with the extreme conditions that young people in many poor countries must endure.

Next, ask students What were some of the things the Australian kids in the video complained about? They will respond with comments such as

  • having to sleep in a twin bed
  • surviving on a $40 weekly allowance
  • having to brush their teeth with a frayed toothbrush
  • eating dry, tasteless cereal for breakfast
  • being forced to ride in the back seat of the car
  • being forced to "endure" a 20-minute conversation with their mothers
  • being seen by friends in the family's run-down 1980s Toyota Corolla
  • having to walk a "grueling" 125 steps to their first class
  • having to cart groceries from the car to the kitchen
  • having an iPod with just 1 gig of memory
  • having to play video games on a dated console

Then ask How did the film make comparisons between the lives of the "typical" student in Australia and the lives of kids in Vietnam, Sudan, and other locations around the globe? If students do not immediately recall some of the comparisons, you might let them re-watch the video and record comparisons as they view. Students might work in small groups to create simple compare vs. contrast charts similar to the one below:

Child in Australia Child in Some Other Parts of the World
complains about her undersized bed don't complain that their entire family lives in a bamboo hut the size of a queen-sized bed
eats dry, tasteless cereal for breakfast forages the land for food
is forced to ride in the back seat of a Toyota Corolla walks for miles, rides a bike over dirt roads, uses primitive transportation
has to carry groceries from the car to the kitchen begs for food in the market
"endures" small talk with her mother walks her blind mother home in the dark of night
plays video games on an outdated console plays with his one toy: a brass bombshell casing
has so few choices of footwear walks and works in bare feet
carries bags and bags of food from this week's shopping trip carries 1 bag of food that will have to feed a family of four for a week
knows she will have a snack after school goes to bed hungry
learns that her sister dyed her hair might learn that her sister died as a result of an unexploded bomb or a Civil War that rages outside her door

Think More About the Video
The title of this video is "Teenage Affluenza." Do you think that is an appropriate title for the video?
If the meaning behind the title is not clear, help students understand that influenza is another word for the flu, a sickness that many throughout the world are forced to endure. The term affluence refers to having a plentiful supply of goods or money. In the case of this video, its creator used the title and the film clips to paint a picture of affluent teenagers who never feel they have enough and don't truly appreciate what they have. In this case, the made-up term affluenza is the disease from which these typical teenagers "suffer."


You might challenge students to reflect in their journals by writing what they learned from the lesson/video; what the predominant or most important message of the video was.

Lesson Plan Source

Submitted By

Gary Hopkins

National Standards

NL-ENG.K-12.3 Evaluation Strategies
NL-ENG.K-12.4 Communication Skills
NL-ENG.K-12.9 Multicultural Understanding
NL-ENG.K-12.11 Participating in Society
NL-ENG.K-12.12 Applying Language Skills

NPH-H.K-4.4 Health Influences
NPH-H.K-4.7 Health Advocacy
GRADES 5 - 8
NPH-H.5-8.4 Health Influences
NPH-H.5-8.7 Health Advocacy
GRADES 9 - 12
NPH-H.9-12.4 Health Influences
NPH-H.9-12.7 Health Advocacy

NSS-EC.K-4.7 Markets and Market Prices
NSS-EC.K-4.8 Supply and Demand
NSS-EC.K-4.9 Competition in the Marketplace
NSS-EC.K-4.11 Money
NSS-EC.K-4.13 Income and Earning
GRADES 5 - 8
NSS-EC.5-8.7 Markets and Market Prices
NSS-EC.5-8.8 Supply and Demand
NSS-EC.5-8.9 Competition in the Marketplace
NSS-EC.5-8.11 Money
NSS-EC.5-8.13 Income and Earning
GRADES 9 - 12
NSS-EC.9-12.7 Markets and Market Prices
NSS-EC.9-12.8 Supply and Demand
NSS-EC.9-12.9 Competition in the Marketplace
NSS-EC.9-12.11 Money
NSS-EC.9-12.13 Income and Earning

NSS-G.K-12.1 The World in Spatial Terms
NSS-G.K-12.5 Environment and Society

NT.K-12.2 Social, Ethical, and Human Issues
NT.K-12.4 Technology Communications Tools

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    Last updated 11/11/2011