Create a Volunteer Spirit

3, 4, 5

This lesson emphasizes that volunteering is the responsibility of citizens. Those contributions made by volunteers represent positive social action for the good of the community. While written for a Catholic Elementary School, this lesson may be easily adapted for public school use.

Lesson Rating 
One Hour Class Period and One Half-Hour Class Period

The learner will:

  • evaluate the importance of service to others.
  • identify ways that volunteers help others.
  • Volunteer Ideas Worksheet (Attachment One)
  • Helping Out is Cool byEllen Feinman Moss(see Bibliographical References)
  • Research on Volunteering in America (Attachment Two)


  1. Anticipatory Set:Have the class sing the song “Row, Row, Row Your Boat” in a three-part round to demonstrate the fun in working together. Discuss how it went. What made the singing experience successful? Was it fun to work it out together? Tell the students that they can have a fun experience volunteering their time or talents together. Build up a volunteering spirit and enthusiasm.

  2. Ask students, “How many of you have ever volunteered your time to help somebody else? What does it mean to volunteer?” Define the word volunteer (someone who does a job or gives services freely and usually without pay). Tell students that you would like them to look around and think of needs at the school and in the community that could be addressed by a group volunteer project. Distribute the Volunteer Ideas Worksheet (Attachment One). Have students work with a partner to write down problems or needs they see around them.

  3. Read some research on the amount of time and money people spend on volunteering. Also, read about the purposes for giving classified into different categories. This should not only inspire the students, but also convince them that giving is an important part of being a citizen. (See Research on Volunteering in America, Attachment Two.)
  4. Have students write an essay, using examples based on research and experience, that describes how an individual can influence the lives of others through volunteering.

The Volunteer Ideas Worksheet (Attachment One) may be used as an assessment as well as the essay describing the value and impact of volunteers.

Cross Curriculum 

Plan and carry out a class volunteer project.

Philanthropy Framework

  1. Strand PHIL.I Definitions of Philanthropy
    1. Standard DP 01. Define Philanthropy
      1. Benchmark E.3 Recognize that citizens have a responsibility for the common good as defined by democratic principles.
  2. Strand PHIL.II Philanthropy and Civil Society
    1. Standard PCS 07. Skills of Civic Engagement
      1. Benchmark E.2 Discuss an issue affecting the common good in the classroom or school and demonstrate respect and courtesy for differing opinions.
  3. Strand PHIL.III Philanthropy and the Individual
    1. Standard PI 01. Reasons for Individual Philanthropy
      1. Benchmark E.1 Describe one reason why a person might give or volunteer.
  4. Strand PHIL.IV Volunteering and Service
    1. Standard VS 01. Needs Assessment
      1. Benchmark E.1 Identify a need in the school, local community, state, nation, or world.
    2. Standard VS 02. Service and Learning
      1. Benchmark E.1 Select a service project based on interests, abilities, and research.

Academic Standards

Select categories to search for standards.

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