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

Giving Generously
Lesson 2
Academic Standards
Philanthropy Framework


Based on the telling of Runaway Rice Cake (The), the class writes an innovation from a different perspective. The moral of the story is that when the character gives generously and from the heart, the giver is also rewarded in some way.


One-Hour Class Period


The learners will:
  • recall the story elements from Runaway Rice Cake (The).

  • recognize that generosity is rewarded in some way.

  • find China on a map of the world.

  • make rice cakes from a recipe in the book.


  • The book, Runaway Rice Cake (The) (see Bibliographical References)

  • Map of the world

  • Chart paper for whole-class writing

  • Paper for student-made pages of the class book

  • Ingredients for rice cakes (sweet rice flour, sugar, baking powder, raisins, nuts, eggs, oil and water)
Handout 1
Family Traditions

Instructional Procedure(s):

Anticipatory Set:
Ask the students to help you locate China on a map of the world. Discuss its location in Asia and where it is in relation to North America. Tell the students that this story takes place in China and at the time of Chinese New Year. Ask the students to name some of their families’ traditions at New Year (or another holiday). “As I read this story, I want you to listen for some of the traditions of this Chinese family. I also want you to listen for the lesson that the family learns. Maybe it is a lesson for us, too.”

  • Read Runaway Rice Cake (The). Note the pronunciation key on the copyright page.

  • Reread the first two pages and discuss the traditions the Chang family practice. (Also read the information page in the back of the book.)

  • Ask the students to recall why it was especially difficult for the family to share their rice cake. (drought year, last of their flour) Was sharing the rice cake a selfless act? How were they rewarded for their generosity?

  • Write a class innovation using the elements from this story, but changed a little. For the setting, choose a holiday that is important to your class. The characters are a family celebrating that holiday. The problem is that one of the important elements of the holiday is missing. The solution is that the family gives selflessly. The conclusion is that the family is rewarded for its generosity. Write the students’ words on a chart paper. Have the students edit their collaborative draft.

  • Assign sentences to copy to each student. The students illustrate their pages. Bind the book together for the classroom library.

  • Make a rice cake using the recipe on the back page of the book. Have the students help you measure the quantities for the recipe.


Observe student participation in discussion and making of book.

School/Home Connection:

  • Interactive Parent / Student Homework:
    Ask the students to discuss the story with their families tonight. For homework, they need to talk about their family traditions at one holiday. Ask the adults to help them write about one tradition. Then have them think of a way to share the holiday tradition with someone else. See Attachment One: Family Traditions.

Bibliographical References:

  • Compestine, Ying Chang. Runaway Rice Cake (The). New York: Simon and Schuster, 2001. ISBN: 0689829728

Lesson Developed By:

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


Handout 1Print Handout 1

Family Traditions

Dear Families,

Today we read a book, The Runaway Rice Cake, about a family celebrating Chinese New Year. In the story, we learned about some of the traditions that the family followed. The family shared their very precious rice cake with a hungry old woman and they were richly rewarded for their selflessness.

Inspired by this story, we discussed some of our own family traditions. We are asking families to discuss some of their personal traditions related to one holiday. Then, please write a description of one tradition you have in your family. Tell with which holiday it is associated.





In a related discussion, ask members of the family to think of ways they can share some of their family tradition with someone in need. Write at least one or two of the ideas generated here.


Philanthropy Framework:


Teri, Teacher – Saginaw, MI10/7/2007 9:20:03 PM

(The positive aspect of using this lesson was) it explained how being generous and selfless can bring rewards. It was excellent to have parents involved by sharing their family holiday traditions. This was a great writing activity.

Kathy, Teacher – Holland, MI10/7/2007 9:21:36 PM

Students easily grasped the idea that giving to others is rewarding in and of itself and can bring positive consequences. The book was excellent - multicultural, and the lesson allowed for individual differences as we discussed family customs. We liked making the class story and the cake.

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Unit Contents:

Overview:Good Will—Three Chinese Stories Summary


Helping Others
Giving Generously
Seems Like a Million Bucks

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