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

Cleaning Up
Lesson 1
From Unit: Beautiful Me
Academic Standards
Philanthropy Framework


This lesson introduces/reviews the definition of a philanthropist.  Students become philanthropists themselves by taking care of trash found within their own classroom/school environment.


One 45 class period, Plus Project Time


The learner will:

  • recognize their connection to the classroom environment.
  • respond to the story The Wartville Wizard by Don Madden.
  • identify the beginning, middle and the ending of the story.
  • define philanthropy as giving of time, talent, and treasure for the common good. 
  • tally and graph a variety of trash or recyclable objects. 
  • participate in a small action for the common good of the school.


  • Trash items (see teacher note)
  • Read-aloud copy of the book The Wartville Wizard by Don Madden
  • White paper
  • Six containers for the recyclable trash
  • Tally sheets and bar graphs with markers for each recycle container 
Handout 1

Instructional Procedure(s):

Notes for Teaching:  Before students enter the room, litter the classroom with trash, such as candy wrappers, pop cans, cups, straws, toilet paper rolls, fast food containers, Popsicle sticks, and empty plastic milk containers.

Anticipatory Set:
The students enter their classroom environment and find it littered with trash.  Allow for student reaction time.

  • Call students over to a common meeting area to discuss their reactions to the trash found within their learning area.  Guide their discussion with questions such as: How do you feel about the mess?  Why do you feel that way?  Would it bother you if this mess was in another classroom or outside or in another place (store, library, movie or theater)?  What can be done about it?  How do you feel about this classroom and your learning area?  Does it feel like your space?  Why do you like a neat space? 

  • Show the students the cover of the book The Wartville Wizard by Don Madden (see Bibliographical References) and ask them what they think the man may have inside the large bag on his back.  They can look at the man's expression and the clue of the can on the cover.  Talk about the name "Wartville" and the image that gives them of the town.  Review the meaning of the word wizard (magic person).  Wartville has a problem similar to the classroom problem--a mess.  Tell the students to listen for how the main character solves the problem in the story.

  • During reading: After the first page, ask the students to predict what the wizard saw when he went outside.  Ask the students to identify the characters and the setting of the story.  Identify the magic used.  What does the word "slob" mean?  What does the author mean by "Your trash has come home to you"?

  • After reading, pass out a paper to each student and teach them to fold the paper into thirds.  Tell students to identify what happened at the beginning, middle, and end of the story by writing a sentence and/or drawing a picture.

  • Ask the students to speculate on how they think the author of this book feels about trash.  Relate this to how they feel about trash in the classroom and outside the building, around their homes, and in the community.  Review the definition of a philanthropist (a person who gives time, talent, or treasure or takes action for the common good) and discuss whether the wizard was a philanthropist.  What was the common good in the story?

  • Ask the students whether they think we have a trash problem within our school community or local community?  If so, what (nonmagical) action could they take for the common good?   Discuss some possible actions.

  • Tell the students that their first action will be to clean up the mess in the room by sorting and recycling.  Tell them to look at the trash around the room and think of categories of materials the trash is made from, such as paper, plastic, rubber, wood, metal and foam.  Provide six containers or bags.  The students can help decide how the containers should be labeled and then make the signs to display above them.  The students will sort the trash into the trash containers according to the various materials from which they are made.

  • Ask the students whether they cooperated with one another while picking up the trash found within their classroom.  Then ask if they can think of areas around the school that can benefit from their cooperative efforts for the common good.  Ask the students how they think the other students will respond when they observe their efforts.  Will others decide to follow their example?  Make a plan to carry out a small cooperative cleanup project and agree to discuss the experience in a given amount of time.

  • Send home Attachment One: Homework.  The students will bring to school more trash/objects and place them in the proper labeled containers. 

  • Place a bar graph and tally sheet above each container for the students to mark as they add materials to the containers.  Choose one student per container/per day who is responsible for reporting the number of materials on the graph and tally sheet.  (Make a responsibility chart so students know which day they will be reporting.)  Discuss and compare the number of items in each container.  The students will use these items for an art project so encourage them to continue bringing items in for several days. 


  • Assess through observation, student participation during class trash discussion, story questions, and the classroom clean-up. 
  • After students participate in an action for the common good of the school, discuss what they did and how other students reacted.  Discuss how they felt about sharing their time for the common good.  Observe students reactions to assess their level of participation and enthusiasm.

School/Home Connection:

Send home Attachment One: Homework. This letter explains the purpose of the unit, a project for them to work on at home, and a list of trash ideas for them to bring into school.  

Cross-Curriculum Extensions:

The teacher may provide a trash bag and plastic gloves for students who wish to clean-up the playground during their recess time.

Bibliographical References:

  • Madden, Don.  The Wartville Wizard.  Aladdin, 1993.  ISBN: 0689716672.

Lesson Developed By:

Kate Powers


Handout 1Print Handout 1


Dear Families,

Today our class read a book called The Wartville Wizard  by Don Madden.  The elderly man in the story was very neat and tidy, but the people in his community were not.  He taught the people that they should be proud of their community and showed them that they had a responsibility to care for it too.  Ask your child to tell you about how the elderly man got the people to start caring about their community.  Talk about ways your family members show they care about the space you share. 

Over the next few weeks, we will be finding ways to take action for the common good of our community.  We will be learning about different ways we can be philanthropists.  A philanthropist is someone who shares time, talent, and/or treasure or takes action for the common good.

Encourage a discussion about taking action for the common good.  Have a family discussion about the meaning of the word philanthropist and discuss ways each of you has given of you time, talent, and treasure for others. (such as helping a neighbor, calling a friend to encourage them, or volunteering at school). 

After your discussion, have your child create a picture that illustrates a way that he/she or someone in the family is a philanthropist.  Help your child label the illustration or write a sentence to explain the illustration.  Please send the illustration to school when it is completed.

Wanted: Interesting pieces of junk that you don't need anymore

We are in need of recycled materials for an art project.  We are collecting these types of materials: paper, wood, plastic, metal, rubber, and foam.  Please make sure these items are safe for student use and handling. We will be sorting and graphing the items as they are brought in each day, so feel free to keep sending items in.

Ideas: juice lids, milk rings and tops, milk jugs, Plastic pieces, rubber bands, packing materials, candy wrappers, pop cans, foam cups, Popsicle sticks, metal washers, toilet paper tubes, and straws

Thanks for your help! When people work together great things can happen!




Philanthropy Framework:


ambz, Teacher islamabad, Pakistan11/25/2010 10:56:26 AM

Thanks a very good lesson plan. I got very good ideas from this. Good work; keep on!

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