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

Heroes in Our Community
Lesson 3
Academic Standards
Philanthropy Framework


This lesson will help students recognize heroes within their community. Children quite often revere sports stars and celebrities. But most real heroes are not people of great renown. They live near us. By performing small acts, they win our admiration. Since children imitate what they see and hear, it is important to point out to them what actions merit honor and which individuals deserve admiration.


Two Thirty-Minute and Two Forty-Five Minute Class Periods

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.

Encourage students to think of a way to acknowledge the contributions of everyday heroes. They may write a thank you or illustrate a beautiful card for an everyday hero or someone who made a special effort in a crisis. They may use social media to call attention to the efforts someone made. Students may start saying, "Thank you for your service" to people serving in the military, firefighters, and other service people, and spread the word to encourage others to do the same.


  • The Children's Book of Heroes by William Bennett
  • student copies of Handout One: Real Heroes in Our Community (in Spanish, Handout Three)
  • student copies of Handout Two: Real Heroes Are Everywhere (in Spanish, Handout Four)
Handout 1
Real Heroes in Our Community
Handout 2
Real Heroes are Everywhere
Handout 3
Verdaderos Héroes en Nuestra Comunidad
Handout 4
Los Verdaderos Héroes Están en Todas Partes

Instructional Procedure(s):

Anticipatory Set:
The teacher should hold up the book, The Children's Book of Heroes, and ask the students what they think the book is about.

Day One:
From the book, read the story "How the Animals Got Sunlight." Lead a discussion following the story on the following points:

  • What is a hero?
    A hero is a person who is admired for great courage, special achievements or noble character; or a person who, against the odds, tries when others have already tried and failed. Such perseverance sometimes makes heroes.

  • Who was the hero in this story and why?
    The spider was the hero because she tried and succeeded in getting the sun for the animals.

  • How did she get the sun?
    She left a thread trail to follow home and put the sun in a clay pot on her back.

  • What happened to the Possum when he tried to bring the sun back to the animals?
    The brightness blinded him so even now he squints. The sun was too hot and burned off all of the fur on Possum's bushy tail. That is why today possum's tail is long and bare.

  • What happened to the Vulture when he tried to get the sun?
    Vulture tried to carry the sun on his head. It burned off all his head feathers and made him dizzily fly in circles. Today vultures are bald and fly in circles.

  • Do you think that you would attempt to get the sun after you saw what happened to Possum and Vulture?

  • Do you think Spider was brave?

  • Explain that one does not need to be big and strong in order to do something great for their people.

Day Two:
Read the story "The Hero of Indian Cliff" from The Children's Book of Heroes. This is a story of true brotherhood. It is about putting yourself on the line for someone you love.

  • Lead a discussion following the story, asking the following questions:
    • Who was the hero in this story? Why?
      Nando was the hero because he saved his brother's life.
    • Nando had always looked up to his brother Manuel. What were some of the ways that Manuel showed he was a caring older brother? Possible answers would include:
    • Manuel carried the knapsack.
    • He was giving his brother a special birthday by showing him the way to Indian Cliff.
    • He had brought a rope that he used at steep parts of the trail to help Nando along.
    • Heroes are generally people whom we admire. Do you think that Manuel admires his little brother? How?

  • Name some heroes in our society? Why are they considered heroes? Why do we admire them? Make a list of the names on a large sheet. Be sure to have more heroes listed than students. Examples might include: Martin Luther King Jr., Harriet Tubman, and Isaiah Thomas.

  • On a large sheet of mural paper have students draw a picture of the hero that they have chosen from the class-generated list. Write the hero's name and a short sentence about why that person is considered to be a hero. For example: Martin Luther King fought for equal rights for all.

Day Three:
Read the story "Tashira's Turn" from The Children's Book of Heroes. This story illustrates how the daily examples of others can turn any one of us into a hero.

  • Lead a discussion on the following questions:
    • What was Tashira's mom doing when she said it was her turn to help?
      She was washing graffiti off of the school walls.
    • What was Tashira's teacher doing when she said it was her turn to help?
      She was painting the church steeple.
    • What did Reverend Wilburn do when he said it was his turn to help?
      He made dinner for a family that had a new baby.
    • What did Officer Hamlette do?
      He stood on the corner and made the neighborhood safe.
    • What did Tashira end up doing when it was her turn to help?
      Tashira pulled a boy out of a smoky window.
    • She was very brave to do that. The boy told her that someone else was still inside. What did Tashira do next?
      She went to get help.
    • Do you think Tashira was smart to know that she needed help? Why?

  • Review the meaning of "philanthropy" (the giving and sharing of time, talent, or treasure intended for the common good). Ask the students to decide why people who act in this way are considered to be doing good for the community. Tell students to think about all of the different things that people did in this story. They all were doing things to help out the people who lived near them, in their community. Ask if they were acting philanthropically. Explain that they all were heroes in their own way. Ask students to name some people in the community who are heroes. Can they think of any people who take their turn and help everyone by what they do?
    • Volunteer firefighters
    • Musicians
    • Parents that volunteer at school
    • People that bake for bake sales
    • Artists
    • People who help the elderly
    • People that plan celebrations for everyone to enjoy, i.e., 4th of July
    • First Responders
    • People who teach: Sunday school, Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, 4-H
    • Kids who help younger kids learn something new
    • People who help their neighbors
    • People who coach: Little League, soccer, football, and baseball

  • Homework: Tell students to think of a person whom they personally know and consider to be a hero. Tell them to write down a few facts about this person. Tell students to think about what it is that makes them think this person is a hero.

Day Four:
Give each student a profile sheet. This sheet has boxes for writing facts about the chosen hero. Have students use their fact sheets to do a "Real Heroes in Our Community" profile (see Attachment One). This sheet should be copied on legal size paper. When finished these profiles may be stapled to a large sheet of construction paper. These profiles should be put on display in the school next to the Hero Mural that the students made on Day Two. The display can be titled "Heroes are Everywhere."


The teacher will assess the students on their participation in the discussions and on how well they followed the Hero Profile requirements.

School/Home Connection:

Ask the students to think of themselves as a hero, someone who has done something to make their world a better place to be. Send home Real Heroes are Everywhere (see Attachment Two) as an assignment, allow students to share the information when it is returned, and post it on the "Heroes Are Everywhere" display.

Bibliographical References:

Bennett, William J. The Children's Book of Heroes. New York: Simon and Schuster, 1997.

Lesson Developed By:

Lynn Chamberlain
Central Elementary School
Munising Public Schools
Munising, MI 49862


Handout 1Print Handout 1

Real Heroes in Our Community

Name of a Real Hero in Our Community

Background Information (Job, Family, Hobby)

What This Person Has Done To Be a Community Hero

Why I Admire This Person . . .

My Community Hero (Drawing)


Handout 2Print Handout 2

Real Heroes are Everywhere

My Name

Background Information (Family, Hobby)

What This Person Has Done to be a Community Hero

My Picture (Drawing)


Handout 3Print Handout 3

Verdaderos Héroes en Nuestra Comunidad


Nombra un Verdadero Héroe en Nuestra Comunidad

Información Personal (Trabajo, Familia, Pasatiempo)

Lo que Esta Persona Ha Hecho Para Ser Un Héroe en la Comunidad

Por qué Admiro a Esta Persona...

Mi Héroe en la Comunidad (Dibujo)

Handout 4Print Handout 4

Los Verdaderos Héroes Están en Todas Partes


Mi Nombre
Información Personal (Familia, Pasatiempo)

Lo que Esta Persona Ha Hecho Para Ser Un Héroe en la Comunidad

Mi Foto (Dibujo)

Philanthropy Framework:


Eileen, Teacher – Muskegon, MI10/6/2007 7:47:57 PM

(The positive aspects of using this lesson were) students recognized that many people they come in contact with in their community are everyday heroes because of the time, talent, and treasure they give. Students also begin to see that even at their age they can be heroes.

Eileen, Teacher – Muskegon, MI10/6/2007 7:56:56 PM

This lesson is great for helping to build a healthy classroom community.

Students begin to recognize the "everyday heros" that are part of their life. They also see how they can become those "everyday heros."

Eileen, Teacher – Muskegon, MI10/6/2007 8:00:41 PM

(The positive aspect of using ths lesson was) students recognize that people who surround them in their daily lives are community heroes for the help they give. The home/school connection gets families involved.

Leslie, Teacher – Troy, TX9/14/2012 9:58:38 AM

This was a great lesson to teach the kids about all the important people in their lives and how you can be a hero to someone with just a small act of kindness and by sharing your own time or talent to make another person's life a little better.

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Unit Contents:

Overview:We Can All Do Our Share Summary


I'm a Philanthropist!
Heroes in Our Community

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