Search form

Family Sells House To Help the Hungry


Arts & Humanities
--Language Arts
--Visual Arts



Social Studies
--Current Events


Grades 2-up

News Content

One Georgia family will help African villagers by trading their big mansion for a smaller home.

Anticipation Guide

Before reading, ask students to list some of the things they need in order to have a good life. Then challenge them to look at the list and decide if they might be able to give up any of those things and still have a good life." Ask them to list other things that they possess that they might not really need to have in order to have that good life." Write students responses on a whiteboard or a sheet of chart paper.

News Words

Next, introduce these words that appear in the News Word Box on the students printable page: possessions, charity, fortunate, elevator, expensive, and Ghana. Discuss the meanings of any of those words that might be unfamiliar. Point out the location of Ghana (which borders the Ivory Coast and Togo on West Africas Atlantic coast) on a world map. Then ask students to use one of those words to complete each of these sentences:

  • For every copy of the book that is sold, the author will donate $5 to her favorite _____. (charity)
  • Gold, lumber, and tuna are among the products exported by the African country of ____ . (Ghana)
  • The first _____ was installed in a New York City building in 1857. (elevator)
  • A cat and a family photograph were the old mans two most prized _____. (possessions)
  • I could tell by just looking at the ring that it must have been very _____. (expensive)
  • School children collected 250 cans of food to help feed people less _____ than themselves. (fortunate)

    Read the News

    Click for a printable version of this weeks news story Family Sells House to Help the Hungry.

    You might use a variety of approaches to reading the news:

    Read aloud the news story to students as they follow along.

    Students might first read the news story to themselves; then you might call on individual students to read sections of the news aloud for the class.

    Photocopy the news story onto a transparency and project it onto a screen. (Or use your classroom computer's projector to project the story.) Read the story aloud as a class, or ask students to take turns reading it.

    Arrange students into small groups. Each student in the group will read a paragraph of the story. As that student reads, others might underline important information or write notes in the margin of the story. After each student finishes reading, others in the group might say something -- a comment, a question, a clarification -- about the text.

    More Facts to Share

    You might share these additional facts with students after they have read this weeks news story.

  • The Salwen family hopes to sell the big house they had lived in for nine years. They plan to sell the house for $1.6 to $1.8 million and donate half the sale price ($800,000 to $900,000) to The Hunger Project, where it will be used to help teach villagers in Ghana how to have a better life.
  • The Salwen familys big, old home is no ordinary house. It is an historic 1912 mansion near downtown Atlanta, Georgia. The home has five bedrooms, eight fireplaces, four ornate bathrooms, a kitchen with three stoves, and an elevator.
  • Hannahs Lunchbox was started as a result of family discussions about what they had vs. what was enough to have a good life. I didnt want to be a family that just sat around and said I wish that I could do something," Hannah said. I wanted to make a difference. Even if it was a small difference."
  • Kevin Salwen, Hannahs father, is a business owner who happens to be on the board of Atlanta Habitat for Humanity. We stopped and paused and thought about what are the things in the world that could really make a difference," he told CNN. They talked about selling their cars or other things, but it was Hannah's mother, Joan, who came up with the idea of selling their 6,500-square-foot house and moving into a house half the size.
  • Joan Salwen is a teacher and the mansion was her dream home. It was a challenge" to give up the home, she told CNN. It was a test, almost, to see: How committed are we? I mean, how serious are these kids about what we should do?"
  • The family spent six months researching charity organizations before deciding on donating the proceeds of the sale to The Hunger Project, which helps end hunger by helping people help themselves. The money will enable villagers in Ghana to earn money by growing food. The money they make from their crops will be used build clinics and schools for the community. As they build those resources, the villagers will be learning new skills they can use to make more money.
  • Hannah loves to shop. She has tons of clothes. But she also wants to help others who are less fortunate, so she volunteers at a community food bank and other organizations.
  • Hannah's 13-year-old brother, Joseph, made a short video about the family's project. That video won the grand prize in the 2008 "My Home: The American Dream" contest, sponsored by Coldwell Banker and Scholastic Publishing. In the video, Joseph says, Were redefining the American dream to show that sharing can lead to a better life for others."
  • The mansion has been up for sale since May 2007. The familys new house is just four blocks from the old one. It is less than half the size (3,000 square feet) of the old house (6,000 square feet). Its small kitchen and small backyard are two of the biggest sacrifices the family has made in sizing down.

    Comprehension Check

    Ask students to tell if each of the statements below tells something true or false about this weeks news story.

  • The Salwen family decided to sell its home to help make a better life for others. (true)
  • The Salwen family lives in Savannah, Georgia. (false, they live in Atlanta)
  • The family hopes to donate $800,000 to a charity called Habitat for Humanity. (false, they hope to donate the money to a charity called The Hunger Project)
  • The Salwens donation will help villagers in Nigeria. (false, the money is planned to help villagers in Ghana)
  • The Salwens old house had an elevator in it. (true)

    You might follow-up that activity by asking some of these questions:

    Recalling Detail

  • Why did the Salwen family decide to sell its house? (the large house was more than they needed; they hope to do good in the world by donating half the sale price to a charity)
  • What is the name of the familys Web site? (
  • How did Hannah get the idea for helping others? (She saw an expensive car parked near a homeless man; she thought about how the driver might be able to do more to help those less fortunate if he didnt spend so much on his car.)
  • Why do you think Hannahs friends call the familys house the wow house"? (because it is so big and expensive; because it has an elevator in it)

    Think About the News
    Discuss the Think About the News question that appears on the students news page. You might use the think-pair-share strategy with students to discuss this question. If you use this strategy

  • First, arrange students into pairs to discuss and list responses to the question.
  • Then merge two pairs of students together to create groups of four students. Have them discuss and add to the ideas they generated in their pairs.
  • Next, merge two groups of four students to form groups of eight students. Have students create a new combined list of ideas.
  • Finally, bring all students together for a class discussion about possessions that students might be able to live without and still have a good life."

    Follow-Up Activities

    Geography. If you scroll over the Where We Work tab on the Web site of The Hunger Project, you will see the list of countries where the project is working. In Africa, those countries include Benin, Burkina Faso, Ethiopia, Ghana, Malawi, Mozambique, Senegal, and Uganda. Provide students with an outline map of Africa. Have them color the African countries where The Hunger Project is working. If you teach older students, you might use this Africa map with no country labels. They might create a color key for their maps, too. Alternate idea: Provide a world outline map and have them color those African countries and these other countries where The Hunger Project is working:
    South Asia: Bangladesh, India
    Latin America: Bolivia, Mexico, Peru

    Comparing cultures. Share with your students this brief story and photos of how students in Ghana live and learn. After sharing the story, invite students to make a list of things they and students in Ghana have in common and ways in which they are different. Extend the lesson: Provide students with a Venn diagram. Label one circle Ghana and the other Where I Live. Have students write phrases in the Ghana circle that describe life for students in Ghana only. Have them write phrases in the Where I Live circle that describe their lives only.. In the area where the circles overlap, have them write phrases that describe ways in which their lives and Ghanaian students lives are similar.

    Literature/Readers Theater. Share with students one of two African folk tales from the Web site Absolutely Whootie: Stories to Grow By Web site. For each story, you will find a picture book version to print out and read and a script the students can use to perform the story as a short play.

  • A Caterpillars Voice
  • Fur and Feathers
    Alternate activity: Have students illustrate their favorite part of one of the stories.


    Use the Comprehension Check (above) as an assessment. Or have students work on their own (in their journals) or in their small groups to respond to the Think About the News questions on the news story page or in the Comprehension Check section.

    Lesson Plan Source

    Education World

    National Standards

    National Standards

    FINE ARTS: Theatre
    GRADES K - 4
    NA-T.K-4.2 Acting By Assuming Roles and Interacting In Improvisations
    GRADES 5 - 8
    NA-T.5-8.2 Acting By Assuming Roles and Interacting In Improvisations
    GRADES 9 - 12
    NA-T.9-12.2 Acting By Assuming Roles and Interacting In Improvisations

    LANGUAGE ARTS: English
    GRADES K - 12
    NL-ENG.K-12.1 Reading for Perspective
    NL-ENG.K-12.2 Reading for Understanding
    NL-ENG.K-12.6 Applying Knowledge
    NL-ENG.K-12.9 Multicultural Understanding
    NL-ENG.K-12.11 Participating in Society
    NL-ENG.K-12.12 Applying Language Skills

    GRADES K - 4
    NSS-C.K-4.2 Values and Principles of Democracy
    NSS-C.K-4.4 Other Nations and World Affairs
    NSS-C.K-4.5 Roles of the Citizen

    GRADES 5 - 8
    NSS-C.5-8.2 Foundations of the American Political System
    NSS-C.5-8.4 Other Nations and World Affairs
    NSS-C.5-8.5 Roles of the Citizen
    GRADES 9 - 12
    NSS-C.9-12.2 Foundations of the Political System
    NSS-C.9-12.4 Other Nations and World Affairs
    NSS-C.9-12.5 Roles of the Citizen

    SOCIAL SCIENCES: Economics
    GRADES K - 4
    NSS-EC.K-4.7 Markets and Market Prices
    NSS-EC.K-4.8 Supply and Demand
    NSS-EC.K-4.11 Money
    GRADES 5 - 8
    NSS-EC.5-8.7 Markets and Market Prices
    NSS-EC.5-8.8 Supply and Demand
    NSS-EC.5-8.11 Money
    GRADES 9 - 12
    NSS-EC.9-12.7 Markets and Market Prices
    NSS-EC.9-12.8 Supply and Demand
    NSS-EC.9-12.11 Money

    SOCIAL SCIENCES: Geography
    GRADES K - 12
    NSS-G.K-12.1 The World in Spatial Terms
    NSS-G.K-12.2 Places and Regions
    NSS-G.K-12.4 Human Systems
    NSS-G.K-12.5 Environment and Society

    See recent news stories in Education Worlds News Story of the Week Archive.

    Article by Ellen Delisio and Gary Hopkins
    Education World®
    Copyright © 2008 Education World