That's Not Fair! How Do We Share?
This lesson printed from:
Posted June 10, 2002
Author: Cross-Curricular Connections
Posted: June 10, 2002
Updated: September 13, 2007
This lesson has students explore a variety of ways to share, particularly when an obvious solution is not apparent.
- Describe scarcity as it relates to limited numbers of goods used in classroom activities.
- Identify choices and the costs of choosing one item over another.
- Describe the difficulty in distributing goods or services to satisfy all wants.
Anyone who interacts with children has surely heard the phrase, "It's not fair!" This lesson has students explore a variety of ways to share, particularly when an obvious solution is not apparent.
Have the students recall a particular event when they needed to share something with other people (perhaps a birthday party, playgroup, playing with brother or sister). Ask them the following questions:
- When was the last time you had to share something?
- What did you have to share?
- What was hard about sharing it?
- Why did you have to share at all?
In today's activities, you are going to work with your class to come up with ideas about fair ways to share.
Think and talk with a neighbor about the answers to the following questions:
|In this activity you will work with your classmates to think about what to do when there is not enough of certain goods to go around. You will try different ways of sharing or trading goods, and talk about what makes each way of sharing hard or easy.|
Have the students consider the following in a discussion with the whole class:
- How do you decide the best way to share things?
- If you have to divide things up, who should decide how that's done?
Explain that in this lesson the students will work with their classmates on an activity that calls for sharing. In small groups, the students will describe different ways they could make decisions about choosing when it is their turn to select an item. Have each group discuss what's "good and bad" about each choice they have to make. Before they begin, encourage each group to describe how different ways of sharing made them feel by asking these questions:
- How does it feel when you don't get what you want?
- Can you think of a time when this happened?
[Note to teachers: The following two activities are very similar, and they do not need to be done in sequence. Activity 1 is a hands-on activity in which children use concrete materials. Activity 2 is the same activity done in a drag and drop activity, so it is a bit more abstract. Activity 1 can be completed first with Activity 2 completed later in small groups. Alternatively, Activity 2 could be completed first (as a whole class or demonstration activity by the teacher), with Activity 1 done next in small groups. The idea is to provide alternate types of activity to demonstrate the same concept.]
[Note to teachers: The concepts addressed in this lesson have less to do with "sharing" per se than they do with the choices students have to make in order to get what they want. Students will make choices and give up certain things each time it is their turn to select something. Those choices involve opportunity cost - giving up the value of the next preferred option in favor of what is selected. ]
Divide the students into small groups. Provide each group with a set of materials to share at each table. Have the students talk within their groups about the best way to share the materials. Have the students discuss the following questions:
- How can you be sure that everyone gets what he or she wants?
- What happens if there are not enough materials for everyone to have what they want? Share your ideas with the class.
In your group talk about the best way to share the materials the teacher has given you. Think about the following questions
|After everyone has the necessary materials, click on the girl above for a surprise. Share your ideas with the class.|
As the students participate in this activity, it's likely they will have difficulty in coming to resolution. Circulate among your groups to help mediate. Offer suggestions to the students about trading goods, and help them understand that scarcity means there won't be enough of everything for everyone to be satisfied. Encourage them to make choices that will satisfy them even if those choices are not the "best" option. After the materials are distributed, have the students click on the girl to get a Clifford picture to color. The goal is to get the children to see that not everyone can get what he or she wants, and to discuss with one another ideas about how to accomplish the task while making as many people happy as possible.
Have the students complete the Flash Activity "Colorful Sharing" with the whole class or in small groups. In the activity, the students take turns selecting crayons from a box. Each person picks one color when it's his or her turn. When each student has taken a turn, have each group discuss possible ways to distribute the last of the crayons. Ask the students:
- Is there a way to be sure everyone gets the colors he or she wants? [No. There is no fair way to satisfy everyone's wants when there is a scarcity of supply.]
- What do you have to do if there are two crayons you want when it is your turn? [You have to give one up. In other words, you have to make a choice: what you give up in making the choice is called your opportunity cost.]
- What would happen if you left the extra crayons in the box, or distributed only the crayons that everyone could agree on? [This one possible model for trying to satisfy all wants, but it is likely that some students would still be disappointed.]
|Click below the crayons to do an activity with your group. While doing the activity think about the following questions.|
Share your ideas with the class.
(This is a repeat of Activity 1. The online interactive task can be done by small groups as a follow-up or as a whole class activity-- to provide a precursor to the small group activity. As the students go through both activities, reinforce with them the idea that sharing is difficult, but that coming up with ways of distributing goods, even if not "fair," ensures that the goods do not go to waste.)
As a closure, have the students reflect individually on the following questions:
- What do you have to give up when you have to choose from a limited number of goods?
- Is there a fair way to share all the time?
- How might you share differently in the future?
Now by yourself think about the following questions:
Opportunities for evaluation are interwoven throughout the lesson as teachers interact, question, and observe the students. There are many chances to check for understanding as the lesson unfolds. Be sure to reinforce the three primary objectives of the lesson by discussing satisfaction and advantages/disadvantages of the various methods students try using for distribution.