Something Beautiful This Way Comes

3, 4, 5

In this lesson, students interview elderly people in their community asking specific questions regarding their connections to philanthropy. The students recognize that the community is connected in many ways through generations and over time with a common purpose of making the community more beautiful.

Lesson Rating 
Four Forty-Five Minute Class Periods, Plus Interview Time

The learner will:

  • make contact with and interview an elderly person who has contributed to and/or volunteered in the community.
  • compare interview notes with other students concerning the different types of philanthropy represented.
  • invite the elderly friend to an event at school.


  • teacher copy of the book Something Beautiful
  • copy of Venn Diagram for each student (see Attachment One)
  • copy of Philanthropy Interview worksheet for each student (see Attachment Two)
  • snacks
  • optional: materials for making an art project

Home Connection 

Interactive Parent / Student Homework:See Attachment Two, Lesson Three: Philanthropy Interview. Students make contact from home with an elderly person in the community. They will need parent help to make the contact.


Wyeth, Sharon Dennis. Something Beautiful. Dragaonfly Books, 2002. ISBN 0440412102


  1. Anticipatory Set:

    Read the book Something Beautiful to the class. This is the story about a little girl that searches in her neighborhood for "something beautiful". She finds that through her actions and sense of community, "something beautiful" can happen. After reading, talk about what "something beautiful" means: "something that when you have it, your heart is happy." Discuss how the girl’s acts of philanthropy were (or produced) something beautiful.

  2. Ask the students to relate the ideas from the book to their own community. Ask the students how they are making the neighborhood/community more "beautiful" with their service work (Lesson Two). Ask the students to identify other people who are working to make the community "beautiful." Discuss why making the community beautiful is important enough to people that they are willing to volunteer time, talent and treasure for its sake.

  3. Ask the students if they know any elderly people in the community (neighbors, faith-based organization members, relatives) who volunteer or share their time, talent, or treasure to make "something beautiful." Tell the students that they will each interview an elderly person over the next few days. They may either contact someone they know or the community nonprofit with which you are working may help you find some elderly volunteers who are willing to participate in an interview.

  4. Brainstorm with the class questions to ask an elderly citizen in the community about their contributions and their volunteer efforts in the community. (Examples: What do you think it means to make something beautiful in the community? Why did you choose to volunteer your time? Did contributing to the community effect your job choice? How?) Have each student copy the 4-5 best (agreed-upon) questions on Attachment Two: Philanthropy Interview. Set the due date for completing the interview and bringing the interview notes to class.

  5. Day Two (may not be the next day):

  6. In a brainstorming format, have students share the information they gathered in their interviews. Ask each question and list the different responses students got. Discuss the contributions of the interviewed persons. What seems to be the most common reason for volunteering? Are the ways they volunteer related to their life-long careers? Look for patterns and common themes.

  7. Each student uses a Venn diagram (Attachment One) to compare and contrast the information gathered by the class with the information gathered in his or her individual interview. Tell students to write a paragraph of reflection on the experience—how do they feel about the experience?

  8. Have students write invitations for a gathering of the people interviewed to thank them for their contribution. The invitations should include information about who is invited, why, where, and when. The guests should understand what they can expect when they come.

  9. Day Three (may not be the next day):

  10. Invite the elderly persons from the individual interviews into the classroom for a small celebration. Ask students’ families to provide snacks for the event. This may be an informal time of talking about the success of the project. You may have displays for the students to show to their guests or prepared songs or skits. Add to the experience by having guests and students work together on an art project or poster (something beautiful) to hang in the hallway or community. This event is mainly a way to say thank you and make another connection between the generations. The students will also recognize that some of the elderly people may know each other from their own connections.

  11. Day Four:

  12. Students will create thank-you cards to be sent to the interviewees for their time and continued philanthropic contributions.


Assess students’ Venn diagrams and reflective writing for their understanding of the connections between themselves and other people in the community.

Cross Curriculum 

In this lesson, students make a connection about the common purpose between youth and the elderly in the community. By using the interview process, students learn about the contributions of people from a different generation. At a celebratory gathering, the students and their guests may work together to create something beautiful

Philanthropy Framework

  1. Strand PHIL.I Definitions of Philanthropy
    1. Standard DP 01. Define Philanthropy
      1. Benchmark E.1 Define philanthropy as the giving and sharing of time, talent, or treasure intended for the common good.
    2. Standard DP 06. Role of Family in Philanthropy
      1. Benchmark E.2 Identify examples of families supporting giving and sharing.
  2. Strand PHIL.II Philanthropy and Civil Society
    1. Standard PCS 01. Self, citizenship, and society
      1. Benchmark E.5 Identify one local citizen who has helped the community through giving and/or service.
  3. Strand PHIL.III Philanthropy and the Individual
    1. Standard PI 01. Reasons for Individual Philanthropy
      1. Benchmark E.4 Give an example of how citizens act for the common good.

Academic Standards

Select categories to search for standards.

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