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

Johnny Be Good (1st Grade)
Lesson 1
Academic Standards
Philanthropy Framework

Focus Question(s):

What is each person's responsibility for environmental stewardship?

NOTE: Prior to this lesson, use the Blue Sky Activity in which students envision a better world.  If you already have a Blue Sky display, revisit it before beginning this lesson.


Students will define philanthropy and identify ways in which Johnny Appleseed acted as a philanthropist through environmental stewardship. After identifying ways in which they personally act as philanthropists, they will raise awareness of philanthropy in the school and home.


Two Thirty-Minute Class Periods


The learner will:

  • listen to and discuss the story of Johnny Appleseed.
  • state the definition of philanthropy as giving of time, talent and treasure for the common good.
  • give examples of small acts of philanthropy.
  • raise awareness of philanthropy in the school and home by wearing a nametag that challenges others to ask about philanthropy.

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.

Brainstorm ideas for a class project for Earth Day. Ask the students to think of activities that exhibit care for the Earth we share and demonstrate to others that stewardship of the Earth benefits everyone and is everyone's responsibility.


  • Read-aloud copy of a Johnny Appleseed story (see Bibliographical References)
  • Drawing paper
  • Paper toweling
  • Spray bottle with adjustable nozzle
  • Chart paper with sentence written in advance
  • Pre-cut yarn for each student (16” to 20”)
  • One 4” x 5” card for each student

Teacher Note: Make the nametags in advance. Type the phrase “Ask me why I am a philanthropist.”  Copy it and glue it on each card.  Make two holes at the top of each card.  Attach the yarn through the holes so that the nametags can hang from the students’ necks.

Instructional Procedure(s):

Anticipatory Set:

Show the class the cover of the book about Johnny Appleseed.  Ask the students if they have heard of Johnny Appleseed and what they already know about him.  Show a map of the United States to explain where Johnny traveled.

  • Prepare in advance: On chart paper, write the word “philanthropy” and its definition:  “Giving time, talent and treasure and taking action for the common good.”  Beside the word “time,” draw a picture of a clock.  Beside the word “talent,” draw a picture of stick figures holding hands.  Beside the word “treasure,” draw a picture of a dollar sign.

  • Read the definition of philanthropy to the students and then ask the students to think about how people like them become philanthropists.  Illustrate this concept with the following demonstration.

  • Hold the spray bottle up for students to see with the spray nozzle set to a mist.  Spray the wide mist onto the paper toweling in your other hand.  Show the students how the paper toweling got a little wet all over. Explain that a person begins to be a philanthropist very much like the mist spray.  The person may have a wide area of interests that cover a wide area of topics.  (It may help to name some of the varied interests and talents in the classroom.)

  • Tighten the spray nozzle, making it a direct spray.  Spray the thin stream onto a new paper towel.  Show the students the small, but very wet area of the paper toweling. Tell students that as they discover what they really care about, their actions will be more focused like this spray of water.  Then their work may make a more noticeable difference.  Tell them that today they will be focusing their thinking on giving time, talent and treasure to enhance or preserve the environment. Taking care of the environment is called stewardship.

  • Before reading the book, tell the students to listen for what things Johnny Appleseed did for the common good and the environment.

  • During and after reading the story, discuss what Johnny Appleseed did for the common good.  Ask students whether Johnny Appleseed shared his time, his talent and/or his treasure (things that he owned).  What were his acts of kindness and stewardship?  How did they benefit others and the environment?  How did he feel about nature and the environment?

  • Look together at the words in the definition of philanthropy: time, talent and treasure.  Ask the group for examples of how young people can share their time, talent and treasure for the common good and the environment. These actions can be very small, such as keeping their classroom or school trash free.  Write all of their ideas in a list on chart paper. These ideas will be helpful in preparing for an Earth Day event.

  • Give students the nametags that say, “Ask me why I am a philanthropist.”  Tell the students to wear this all day (until bedtime) and be ready to answer the question. They can practice with each other before they leave the classroom.  Discuss responses the next day.


  • The students demonstrate their understanding of stewardship by drawing a picture of Johnny Appleseed in action.

  • Observe student participation in discussions about their own philanthropic actions.

Learning Link(s): (click to view)

School/Home Connection:

  • Interactive Parent / Student Homework:

    The students wear their nametags at home until they get ready for bed. This will generate discussion at home about philanthropy. 
    As an extension, they may keep track of how many people asked them the question on their nametag. The next day, make a class graph showing how many times students were asked about their nametags.

Cross-Curriculum Extensions:

Read additional books about Johnny Appleseed. (See Bibliographical References)

Reflection: (click to view)

Bibliographical References:

  • Greene, Carol.  John Chapman: The Man Who Was Johnny Appleseed.  Chicago: Children’s Press, 1991.  ISBN: 0516042238.

  • Le Sueur, Meridel.  Little Brother of the Wilderness.  Holy Cow Press, 1995.  ISBN:  0930100212.

  • Lindbergh, R. & Hallquist, K.  Johnny Appleseed.  Megan Tingley, 1993.  ISBN: 0316526347.

Lesson Developed By:

Pamela McIntosh
Detroit Public Schools
Woodward Elementary School
Detroit, MI 48208


Philanthropy Framework:


R., LEAGUE Coach Newark, NJ5/31/2007 6:58:30 PM

(The positive aspect of this lesson is ) making children aware of the importance of trees and how we need them and should take care of them.

Angelica, LEAGUE Coach Newark, NJ6/1/2007 2:30:07 PM

The positive aspect of giving lessons on Earth Day, is helping the children understand how important it is to conserve our natural resources in order to survive.

Hilda, LEAGUE Coach Newark, NJ6/3/2007 9:13:32 AM

This lesson increases awareness of how students can help protect our environment.

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Unit Contents:

Overview:Johnny Be Good (1st Grade) Summary


Johnny Be Good (1st Grade)

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