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

Our Class, Our Earth (Kindergarten)
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 gain a feeling of ownership and responsibility for the care of the environment in their school and community.


One 40 minute class period


The learner will:

  • articulate feelings about finding trash in the classroom.
  • respond to questions about the story The Wartville Wizard by Don Madden.
  • define the terms philanthropy and recycle.
  • participate in a school cleanup project for Earth Day.

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 cleaning up the school and community.


  • "clean" trash items (see Teacher Note)
  • copy of the book The Wartville Wizard by Don Madden
  • containers or bags for sorting the trash

Instructional Procedure(s):

Notes for Teaching:  Before students enter the room, litter the classroom with "clean" trash, such as candy wrappers, rinsed pop cans, cups, straws, empty paper towel rolls, clean fast-food containers, unused ice-cream sticks, and rinsed 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, or movie theater)? 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 it 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. 
  • After reading the first page, ask the students to predict what the wizard will see when he goes outside. Have them identify the characters and setting of the story. After reading, ask the following questions: What magic was used? What does the word slob mean? What does the author mean by "Your trash has come home to you"? What do you think the term recycle means?
  • Ask the students how they think the author 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 action in the story was taken for the common good of the community?
  • Tell the students that their first action will be to clean up the mess in the room by sorting the material so that some of it can be recycled. Review what it means to recycle. Tell them to look at the trash around the room. Ask students to raise their hands and tell you what materials the trash is made from (paper, plastic, rubber, wood, metal, and foam). As a student identifies a material, make that student responsible for holding the bag or container to collect that material. All students will pick up the trash and bring the items to the assigned containers. 
  • Ask the students whether they cooperated with one another while picking up the trash in the 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. 
  • Brainstorm (nonmagical) ideas for cleaning up the school and community.



  • Assess through observation, student participation during class trash discussion, story questions, and the classroom cleanup. 

Learning Link(s): (click to view)

Cross-Curriculum Extensions:

  • After reading the story, give each student a piece of paper and demonstrate how to fold the paper into thirds. (Note: Have some prefolded paper available for those that might struggle with folding the paper.) Tell students to draw or write (or dictate to an adult) what happened at the beginning, middle, and end of the story. 
  • After students participate in an action for the common good of the school (Earth Day Event), ask them to reflect on what they did and how other students reacted. Discuss how they felt about sharing their time for the common good.

Reflection: (click to view)

Bibliographical References:

Lesson Developed By:

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


Philanthropy Framework:

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Unit Contents:

Overview:Our Class, Our Earth (Kindergarten) Summary


Our Class, Our Earth (Kindergarten)

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