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

Giving Back Like a Mouse
Lesson 2
Academic Standards
Philanthropy Framework


This lesson introduces the idea of giving back. Students hear an oral retelling of "The Lion and the Mouse" and relate the ability of the mouse to help the lion with the empowerment of children to make a difference.


One Thirty-Minute Class Period


The learner will:

  • tell an oral story (may use a storybook that doesn't have words).
  • compare the lion/mouse relationship with an adult/child relationship.
  • brainstorm the time, talent, and treasure children may have that can make a difference in the world.
  • describe the concepts of "giving back" and "paying it forward."


Copy of the fable The Lion and the Mouse (see Bibliographic References).


In the story "The Lion and the Mouse," the mouse is captured by a lion. The mouse convinces the lion to let him go so one day the mouse can help the lion. The lion feels kind and decides to let the mouse go. The mouse promises to repay the lion one day. The lion laughed, thinking, "what could a mouse do for me." Later, the lion is caught in a trap. When the mouse hears the lion roaring, he chews through the ropes to set the lion free. The lion learns that size and power are not the only strengths one may have.

Instructional Procedure(s):

Anticipatory Set:

Ask the students, "Do you think you can help someone who is bigger, stronger, or older than you?"  Listen to their ideas. Write some of their examples and sort their ideas into the following categories: talents, time, and treasure. For example, someone may share their talent for social media; share their time with a sick person; share their treasure in the form of a good book or food for lunch. Tell them the fable, The Lion and the Mouse, tells how someone very small helped someone very big and powerful.

  • Ask them to raise their hands if they have ever told or been told a story. Tell the students that people have been telling stories aloud for thousands of years, long before there were written books. Family and friends enjoyed hearing stories because they were interesting and because stories taught them about the world. 
  • Ask the students how books and stories make our lives better. Ask what they think it would be like if they didn't have easy access to books that tell stories or give them information.
  • Explain that you will be telling them a story rather than reading aloud. Students will use their imagination and picture the story in their heads if you are telling it without the picture book. If you are using the picture book that has no text, you may ask the students to participate in the storytelling as much as possible.
  • Tell the story to the class using engaging language and expressive voices.
  • Discuss the story
    What did the lion do for the mouse? Why?
    What did the mouse do for the lion? Why?
    Do you think the mouse would have helped the lion if the lion had not freed him? Why or why not?
    What do you think it means "to give back"?

    How is this a story about being good citizens?
  • Tell the students to compare and contrast a mouse and a lion (you may use a Venn diagram). Then ask the students how the mouse and lion are similar to a child and an adult. Ask, "what can a child do to help an adult?"
  • Discuss things children can do that are good for the community. Brainstorm the time, talent, and treasure children may have that can make a difference in the world.
  • Describe the concepts of "giving back" and "paying it forward." When someone does something nice for you, you can pass it on by doing something nice for someone else. Ask. "How does that make the whole community better?"
  • Challenge the students to look for opportunities to help when it is not expected of them. Tell them to bring stories of helping in this way back to the classroom over the next couple weeks. Write a description of what they do on an index card and post the cards on a bulletin board.


Curriculum Connection:

Interdisciplinary: Have the children brainstorm animals. Write their suggestions in two side-by-side lists forming random pairs. Have the children suggest how the animal pairs could help each other. Have the children draw a picture of two animals helping each other. Label each picture with their description of "helping."

Science: Learn about the food chain. What is a possible food chain that includes a lion? What is a possible food chain for a mouse?

Cross-Curriculum Extensions:

Student Voice: Encourage students to be creative and find opportunities to give back that utilize their talents and interests.

Bibliographical References:

Some of these books are for reference to get familiar with the story. The Pinkney book contains no text.

  • Herman, Gail. The Lion and the Mouse. Illustrated by Lisa McCue. Random House (Paperback), 1998. ISBN: 0679886745.
  • Jones, Carol. The Lion and the Mouse. Houghton Mifflin Co., 1997.
    ISBN: 0395869560.
  • Pinkney, Jerry. The Lion and the Mouse. Little, Brown Books for Young Readers, 2009. ISBN-13: 978-0316013567

Lesson Developed By:

Betsy Flikkema
Associate Director
Learning to Give


Philanthropy Framework:


Viveca, Teacher Albion, MI10/13/2007 6:47:39 PM

(The positive aspect of using this lesson was) the message was appropriate for my class and easy to understand. The use of the story The Lion and The Mouse was good to use.

Laura, Teacher Albion, MI10/13/2007 6:49:59 PM

(The positive aspect of using this lesson was) comparing 2 different books. They enjoyed that. They also realize they can help even though they are small or young.

Amy, Teacher Albion, MI10/13/2007 6:51:53 PM

(The positive aspect of using this lesson was) it taught the students that different animals/people who have nothing in common can help each other.

Laura, Teacher Albion, MI10/13/2007 6:54:45 PM

(The positive aspect of using this lesson was)talking about how we can help others (adults) even when children are smaller. They related it to grandparents and elderly. I was happy they made the connection.

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