Learning to Give, Philanthropy education resources that teach giving and civic engagement

Traveling Back in Time
Lesson 1
Academic Standards
Philanthropy Framework


This lesson raises students’ awareness of memories and the importance of memories to the people of all ages that make up a community. Students will learn the definition of philanthropy and identify an act of philanthropy in the literature.


One Forty-Five Minute Class Period


The learner will:

  • listen to a story in a group setting.

  • brainstorm ideas about the five definitions of memory from the book.

  • orally share one or more personal items that pertain to a memory from the five topics in the book.

  • define philanthropy as the giving or sharing of time, talent or treasure for the common good.

Service Experience:

Although this lesson contains a service project example, decisions about service plans and implementation should be made by students, as age appropriate.
Learn more about the stages of service-learning.
None for this lesson.


  • A read-aloud copy of Wilfrid Gordon McDonald Partridge (see Bibliographical References)

  • A well-worn toy to promote a discussion about memories

  • A box large enough to hide the teddy bear or toy—decorated, if desired

  • Student copies to send home of Attachment One: Recalling Memories

Handout 1
Recalling Memories

Instructional Procedure(s):

Anticipatory Set:
Before reading the literature book, present a mystery memory box with a well-worn toy from the teacher’s past, such as a teddy bear, doll or book inside, to the class and ask them what could be inside. Listen while students give possible answers. Then give the clues, “It is something that makes me feel warm inside.” “It is something I had when I was your age.” If students still don’t guess the item, the teacher may give more clues. Show the item, making the points: It is from long ago. It was precious to me. It makes me feel warm inside when I hug it or read it. Ask the children if they think you should have kept the item even though it is used, or thrown it away. Ask the children to name some precious things they have saved and the good memories associated with them. This activity helps students think in terms of what attributes might be related to a memory, and why memories are important.


  • Read Wilfrid Gordon McDonald Partridge, by Mem Fox, aloud to the whole group.

  • Ask the students to recall while you write down the five definitions of a memory that assisted in helping find Miss Nancy’s memory (something warm, something from long ago, something that makes you cry, something that makes you laugh and something as precious as gold).

  • Have a discussion about the importance of memories to people of all ages. How did the people in the book feel about memories? How do the students feel about memories? How are memories important to people in our community? What types of things do people like to remember and why? What would life be like if we didn’t remember things?

  • Define philanthropy as the giving or sharing of time, talent or treasure for the common good. Ask the students to think about what Wilfrid shared. What common good was served? Ask students to think about ways they can be philanthropic in their own community in ways that are similar to Wilfrid’s act. (If we ask people who are of an older generation to share their memories with us, we would learn about their values and traditions, show respect for our elders and become more connected to our community.)

  • Give students a homework assignment. They must find one item at home that fits one of the definitions of memory (from the book). They will bring the item to school to share with the class. See Attachment One: Recalling Memories.

  • Each succeeding day, three-five students present to the class the items from home.


The teacher will assess the students in two parts.

  • First, the teacher will check off that the student brought an item to school and orally shared with the group a personal memory.

  • Secondly, after each student shares, the teacher will ask one or two students in the listening audience to tell why the item sparks a memory for the sharer. Teacher makes anecdotal records of listening skills for students.

School/Home Connection:

Interactive Parent / Student Homework:
Students look for memories in their own homes. They take home Attachment One: Recalling Memories.  Working with their families, the students find a special item from home to bring to school. The item brings up a memory that fits one of the defenitions of memory from the book.

Cross-Curriculum Extensions:

Students can keep memory items at school for future lessons in this unit.

Bibliographical References:

  • Fox, Mem. Wilfrid Gordon McDonald Partridge. New York: Kane/Miller Book Publishers, 1985. ISBN: 0916291049

Lesson Developed By:

Heather Badders
Otsego Public Schools
Allegan Street Elementary
Otsego, MI 49024


Handout 1Print Handout 1

Recalling Memories

Dear Family,

Today your child listened to a wonderful story by Mem Fox called Wilfrid Gordon McDonald Partridge. It is about a little boy who helps an elderly neighbor find her memory. Please help your child find one item that he/or she can bring in to share with the class. The item must fit one of the definitions of memories from our story:

  • Something that makes you feel warm inside (example: special stuffed animal).

  • Something that makes you cry (example: a photo of a friend who has moved away).

  • Something that makes you laugh (example: a toy).

  • Something from long ago (example: a baby blanket).

  • Something as precious as gold (example: a photo of parents or family members).

Please have your child bring his or her item this week. All items will be kept at school for one week.

Also, it would be nice for your child to hear about some of your memories. At the dinner table this week, talk about your memories. Talk about your childhood, as well as old stories from the larger family or community

Thank you for your support.



Your Child’s Teacher

Philanthropy Framework:


Rhonda, Educator – Roberta, GA12/14/2007 10:09:19 PM

Well done. I was looking for a short unit to use with my gifted students and this is great.

Deborah, Educator – Coarsegold, CA9/27/2009 1:53:56 PM

What a very thoughtful unit! Thank you for sharing it. This was a very moving lesson for me. I was inspired for my memory share to find a book my grandmother gave me when I was 9 or 10. Again, thank you!

Jackie, Teacher – Brooklyn, NY11/4/2010 10:03:33 PM

I always use Wilford Gordon McDonald Partridge as an opening book for memoirs. I was intorduced to it by my daughter's first-grade teacher, Mrs. Banks. My daughter is now in 12th grade! I still get the lump in my throat everytime I read it. It is a beautiful book. I just read it to my students and they had to get me a tissue. I'm sure they would love to hear it again!

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