Janaki became a member of a Youth Club formed by EKATA Foundation. Photo: Richard Wainwright/Caritas Australia

Preferential Option for the Poor

Middle Primary

Teacher introduction

By the end of this unit, students will have explored the concept of fair and unfair sharing, and reflected on ways they can follow Jesus’ example in caring for the poor.

Teachers, before you start:

  1. Watch the CST ‘Preferential Option for the Poor’ film for your own background and familiarise yourself with the Lower Primary cartoon (found within the Learning Experience below).
  2. Download the various resources referenced (worksheets, slides, etc.) and have them ready to go on your computer/interactive whiteboard.
  3. Locate the Scriptures and copies of Church texts (all hyperlinked within the Learning Experience below).
  4. Familiarise yourself and decide on the use of online or app technologies.
Learn about the CST with Caritas Australia.
Learn about the CST with Caritas Australia.

Learn - Focus

Students explore choices that result in a more just and compassionate world.

Teacher’s Note: We discuss poverty and inequality in the world in relation to/based on Jesus’ commitment for all for a life of abundance: “I have come so that they may have life and have it to the full.” When reflecting on this verse, Pope Francis said: “Men and women of all times and all places desire a full and beautiful life... a life that is not threatened by death but that can mature and grow to its fullness.”

Tune into students current understanding of inequality in the world.
Discuss What are the things we need to live a ‘full and beautiful’ life? For example, a house, medicine, school, food.

Record: answers in a Word Cloud or poster.

Discuss: Does everyone in the class have those things? Does everyone in the world have these things? How do you know?

Read and display page 1, section 1 of the Preferential Option for the Poor comic. See teacher cartoon.

Explore in response to the cartoon: Why don’t some people have a fair share of the things they need to live? In a think-pair-share routine, students are given time to think about their own response and then discuss with a partner: Are there any stories from Jesus in Scripture that tell us about sharing?

Record students’ ideas about what would be fair. Should everyone get exactly the same? Should some people get more? Why? For example, families with more children might need more resources, or someone with a disability might need extra help.

Teacher note: Emphasise the preferential need for those marginalised groups such as women, children, people, the elderly or people with disabilities. This is the preferential option for the poor.

We are all part of one global family.
We are all part of one global family.

Learn - Explore

Students identify how acting fairly is an important way to show God’s love.

Read and display page 2, section 2 of the Preferential Option for the Poor comic. 

Discuss: What do you think about this ? What does it mean if we are in the richest group? What do you think God thinks about this? What does Jesus want us to do?

In small groups, students investigate a variety of Scriptural texts to identify messages about concern for the poor and disadvantaged. Some examples of Scripture passages include: Deuteronomy 15: 1; Isaiah 58:6-7; Jesus’ Mission Luke 4:16-21, Luke 7:18-23; inclusion Luke 14:13, James 2:1-4, 1 John 3:17-18; Martyrdom of Stephen Acts 6: 8, 13 -15,7: 54 – 8:1; Conversion of Paul Acts 9: 1- 19; ‘You did it to me’ Matthew 25:34-40; Rich Young Man, Matthew 19: 16 – 21, Mark 10: 17 – 21, Luke 18: 18 – 23; People of prayer John 14:1

Jigsaw Scripture investigation

Students form groups of 5 and investigate a variety of Scriptures and Church teaching using the Jigsaw strategy:
Divide students into groups. Assign each student in the group a different Scripture verse. Students join others in the class who have been assigned the same Scripture verse. These are ‘Expert groups’. Each Expert groups explores the Scripture using the Y chart strategy focusing on what it would have ‘looked like, sounded like, felt like’. Students then return to their original group and share their expertise on their Scripture.

As a re- joined group students create a billboard message using the online tool ‘Billboard: Say it Big” that summaries what they have learnt about the Biblical concern for the poor. It could answer the question “What does the Bible say about caring for the poor” or “Why should we care for the poor”, or “What should people remember about caring for the poor?” Alternatively, students could create badges, jingles or bumper stickers with their phrases and share these with other students in the school.

Learn about the CST with Caritas Australia.
Learn about the CST with Caritas Australia.

Learn - Demonstrate

Students consider Jesus’ teaching on the poor.

Read and display page 2, section 3 of the Preferential Option for the Poor comic. 

Discuss: What does it meant to be poor? What do you think about this?

Create a class list answering the question: What connections can be made with the Scriptures explored? What did Jesus Do? Who did he look out for in particular?

As a class or in groups, students discuss Jesus’ teachings.

Emphasise how Jesus instructs us to love everyone but with particular emphasis on the poor, marginalised and excluded.

Learn about the CST with Caritas Australia.
Learn about the CST with Caritas Australia.


Students investigate the work of Caritas Australia.

Explain to students that they are going to learn about what is happening in a country called Brazil.

Complete the research table as a class or in small groups, students research and present about how the 2014 Brazil Caritas Australia project promotes and supports the wellbeing of others, using the Caritas Project Worksheet.
Alternatively, this could be completed as a class watching the Brazil 2014 film (6’02’’)

Display the list of Scriptures or the class’ summary of Jesus’ teaching.

Explore the links between the Scriptures and the issues raised in the Brazil video.

Learn about the CST with Caritas Australia.
Learn about the CST with Caritas Australia.


Discuss: Who can help us to care for the poor? Encourage students to draw on their relationship with God to help them care for the poor.

Read a classroom or school prayer. Integrate a concern for the poor and disadvantaged into the prayer demonstrating their commitment to the principle and to working towards a more just and fair world. Alternatively, a new class prayer could be written.