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

Splish! Splash! Birdbath
Lesson 6
Academic Standards
Philanthropy Framework


By participating in a service-learning project, students will gain a greater understanding of what it means to serve for the Common Good. After learning about City Wildlife and their struggle in coexistence with humans, students will take action that will benefit our neighboring animals.


One Fifty-Minute Class Period


The learner will:

  • define the term philanthropy.

  • discuss the meaning of volunteerism.

  • discuss citizenship and the Common Good.

  • collaborate on an action plan that will enhance the lives of animals.

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.

Students participate in a service-learning project in which they clean up and beautify the school grounds. As a cooperative group, they plant flowers and place birdbaths and feeders in strategic areas on school grounds.


Materials will vary depending on the type of project chosen. The following supplies are for beautifying an area of the school grounds in order to attract wildlife:

  • Four plastic bird baths (Wal-Mart/Home Depot)

  • Two small bags of sand

  • Four hanging bell-shaped bird seeds

  • A box of plastic work gloves

  • Work tools (rakes, spades, brooms, shovels, etc.)

  • Several flats of flowers (to plant near bird baths)

  • Two bags of planting soil

  • Two watering cans

  • Handout: Top Ten List - Attachment One

  • Handout: Unit Wrap-Up - Attachment Two

Handout 1
Top 10 List: Things You Can Do to Help Animals
Handout 2
Unit Wrap-Up

Instructional Procedure(s):

Anticipatory Set:
Write the word PHILANTHROPY on the board. Ask the students to tell you what it means. Review the meaning, if necessary (giving or sharing time, talent or treasure for the common good).

  • Lead students in a discussion (review) of what it means to be a good citizen and why it is our responsibility to work/act for the Common Good (Core Democratic Value).

  • Introduce the term volunteer into the discussion. What is a volunteer and what are some examples of things volunteers do? Does a volunteer give time, talent or treasure (or a combination)? How is a volunteer acting for the common good?

  • Ask the students to think about what they have learned about City Wildlife. Do they think that animals should be included in our concept of common good? Why or why not? Brainstorm a list of volunteer efforts we can make as a group (or at home with our families) to help protect animals. Write the title of the lesson—Splish, Splash, Bird Bath—on the board and use it to help direct the students toward a service-learning project related to birds.

  • In this project, the goals are to beautify school grounds, provide food and water for small wildlife, and give back to the environment by planting greenery. Help students plan activities and jobs, and select the day the work will be completed.

  • When the project plans are complete, discuss the costs, supplies, measurements and opportunity costs involved. Ask the students to think about what they could be doing with their time, talent and treasure rather than working on this project. Use this information to congratulate them on their good citizenship and raise their sense of pride and ownership in the project.

  • This project may be modified if necessary, depending upon budget. This can become a school wide or grade level project.


  • Have students review their own work with the self-assessment provided. See Attachment Two: Unit Wrap-Up.

  • Review with the students the five essential questions for the unit that were written on the board in Lesson One: Exploring the Neighborhood – Literature Jigsaw. 1) Can humans and animals coexist in the same habitat? 2) If so, are there dangers that exist? For whom? 3) What is a community? 4) What do humans and wildlife share? 5) What is Common Good? Does it include wildlife?

School/Home Connection:

  • Interactive Parent / Student Homework:
    Ask for parent volunteers to assist in the project.

  • Send home the list of ideas on Attachment One: Top Ten List: Things You Can Do to Help Animals.

Cross-Curriculum Extensions:

Students will need to continue watering plants and flowers and keep the birdbaths filled. Birdseed must also be replenished. Make a job schedule so all students will get a chance to participate and learn responsibility.

Bibliographical References:

  • Compassionate Action Institute Home Page, 2000, http://www.pleasebekind.com

  • Learning to Give Home: http://learningtogive.org

  • McGraw-Hill. SRA - Open Court Reading. Vol. 2, Level 3. Columbus: SRA/McGraw-Hill, 2002. ISBN: 0075696525

  • McGraw-Hill. SRA -Open Court Reading Inquiry Journal. Level 3:28-41. Columbus: SRA/McGraw, 2002. ISBN: 0075695715

Lesson Developed By:

Greta Hendricks Johnson
Detroit Public Schools
Van Zile Elementary School
Detroit, MI 48234


Handout 1Print Handout 1

Top 10 List: Things You Can Do to Help Animals

  1. Be a responsible pet owner. Give your pet proper food, water, exercise and spay or neuter your pet.

  1. Offer to help an elderly neighbor. Ask if you can help walk or groom a dog, change kitty litter, and/or clean a birdcage. Give pet food to the “Meals on Wheels” program in your area to help pet owners who may be elderly or in ill health.

  1. Respect the environment when you are hiking. Pack in your supplies and take your trash out with you. Don’t disturb animals in their homes.

  1. Build a bat house or a birdhouse.

  1. Write a puppet show or play about caring for animals and perform it for a school assembly.

  1. Read a story about animals to younger students.

  1. Collect blankets and food for your local animal shelter.

  1. Ask if you can help your local wildlife agency collect data about wildlife.

  1. Raise money for your local animal organization. Bake sales, garage sales, car washes and collection cans are good projects.

  1. Be kind and respectful to people and animals.

Handout 2Print Handout 2

Unit Wrap-Up

Answer the questions about your work honestly.

  • How did you feel about this unit?

___I enjoyed it very much. ___I liked it.

___I liked some of it. ___I didn’t like it.

  • How would you rate the difficulty of the unit?

___easy ___medium ___hard

  • How would you rate your performance during this unit?

___I learned a lot about city wildlife.

___I learned some new things about city wildlife.

___I didn’t learn much about city wildlife.

  • What was the most interesting thing you learned about city wildlife?



  • Is there anything else about city wildlife that you would like to learn? What?



  • What did you learn about city wildlife that you didn’t know before?



  • What did you learn about yourself as a learner?



  • What do you need to work on to improve your skills as a learner?



  • What resources, outside the classroom (books, films, magazines, interviews, other), did you use
    on your own during this unit? Which of these were the most helpful? Why?



  • Describe the effects of the service learning project on the habitat for humans and wildlife.



Philanthropy Framework:

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