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

What Can I Do?
Lesson 5
Academic Standards
Philanthropy Framework


Students prove that they are not too young to volunteer services that help others. They brainstorm ways they can be of service at school and home. Students identify times they do not need to ask permission to act philanthropically.


Two Thirty-Minute Class Periods, Plus Time Outside of Class for Individual Volunteer Action (One Week)


The learner will:

  • determine needs in his/her school, home or neighborhood.

  • evaluate personal time, talents and treasures that can be shared for the common good.

  • implement a volunteer plan.

  • create a class handbook with ideas for volunteer opportunities.

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.

In this lesson, the students choose their own ways to serve as volunteers (or philanthropists) at home, at school or in the neighborhood.

Note: This lesson can be tied with another Learning to Give unit: See “Phil’ Up on the Arts” (K-2) at <www.learningtogive.org> In music class, the students learn that they can give through singing. They develop a music video or audio tape to be given to a local hospital (or daycare center).


Handout 1
Catch Them Caring

Instructional Procedure(s):

Anticipatory Set:

Sing the song “What Can I Do for You?” with the students. Talk about what the song says about helping others.

  • Brainstorm needs at school, home and in the community. Talk about the types of things people appreciate help with (lawn care, shoveling, tough school assignment, cleaning up, carrying something heavy, etc.)

  • Have each student refer to the brainstormed list to make a list of ways that he/she can personally volunteer to help someone at home or in the community. The list may be written or in the form of little drawings that are reminders of ideas. See the “ABCs of Philanthropy” for simple ideas for helping others and words related to giving and sharing for the common good. (See Bibliographical References)

  • Talk about actions they can do for the common good for which they do not need to ask permission.

  • Explain that you expect each student to choose a way to volunteer in the next week (or other time limit). At the end of the week, they must report back to the class about their volunteer experience.

  • Make a class book describing different ways for a child to be a volunteer and help others. Each student is responsible for a page illustrating one act of volunteering or helping. The page should include art and writing.


The students will draw pictures (for a class book) to illustrate how they volunteered and write (or dictate) sentences about their volunteer service (description of and reaction to the activity).

Use the following rubric for evaluation:

3 – Picture and sentence illustrate the volunteer situation and reflect an understanding that they give freely of their time and talent.

2 – Either picture or sentence reflects a clear understanding but not both.

1 – Either picture or sentence is about volunteering but they do not show a clear understanding of the concept that time and talent is given freely.

School/Home Connection:

Send home the family letter (Attachment One: Catch Them Caring). Parents are watching out for ways that the students are volunteering and helping others over the week. The goal is that students make helping others a habit.

Cross-Curriculum Extensions:

Note: This lesson can be tied with another Learning to Give unit: See “Phil’ Up on the Arts” (K-2) at <http://learningtogive.org/lessons/unit61/> In music class, the students learn that they can give through singing. They develop a music video or audio tape to be given to a local hospital (or daycare center).

Bibliographical References:

Lesson Developed By:

Kathy Dockerty
Buchanan Schools
Ottawa Elementary School
Buchanan, MI 49107


Handout 1Print Handout 1

Catch Them Caring

Dear Family,

Throughout the year many of you volunteer in several ways: baking goodies, sending supplies for special projects or parties, helping in the room for special days, reading with children, chaperoning for field trips, etc. Your help is very much appreciated because it makes our classroom and school a better place for learning and growing.

Our class has been learning about the importance of volunteerism, not only in our school but also in our community. We have learned that children can work for the common good by volunteering and helping others. The students have been challenged to find at least one way to volunteer or help others over the next week. This help may take many forms and should be the ultimate decision of the child because we have learned that volunteering requires freedom of choice. However, please provide guidance to make sure the choice is appropriate.

The students must be prepared to report on at least one volunteer activity by next week. Some examples may include helping a neighbor with yard work or running an errand, helping entertain younger siblings, clearing the table or helping with an extra job, etc. Remember, volunteering involves offering service voluntarily to others without pay.

Please observe your child’s behavior over the next week and keep a tally of the types of sharing and caring behaviors you see. Share this list with your child and talk about what that behavior means to the family and community. We hope that this behavior becomes habit.

Thank you for helping with this activity.

Type of Behavior:

Sharing and Caring

Offering to Help at Home

Offering To Help a Friend

Making Something for Someone

Tallies of Observed Action:

Philanthropy Framework:


Laura, Teacher – Pleasanton, CA8/26/2007 10:14:41 AM

This is super! Even my K's can do this! I love the letter to send home to families... I don't have to change a thing! Thank YOU!

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