What Can I Do?

K, 1, 2

Students prove that they are not too young to volunteer services that help others. They brainstorm ways they can be of service at school and home. Students identify times they do not need to ask permission to act philanthropically.

Lesson Rating 
Two Thirty-Minute Class Periods, Plus Time Outside of Class for Individual Volunteer Action (One Week)

The learner will:

  • determine needs in his/her school, home or neighborhood.
  • evaluate personal time, talents and treasures that can be shared for the common good.
  • implement a volunteer plan.
  • create a class handbook with ideas for volunteer opportunities.

Home Connection 

Send home the family letter (Attachment One: Catch Them Caring). Parents are watching out for ways that the students are volunteering and helping others over the week. The goal is that students make helping others a habit.



  1. Anticipatory Set:

    Sing the song “What Can I Do for You?” with the students. Talk about what the song says about helping others.

  2. Brainstorm needs at school, home and in the community. Talk about the types of things people appreciate help with (lawn care, shoveling, tough school assignment, cleaning up, carrying something heavy, etc.)

  3. Have each student refer to the brainstormed list to make a list of ways that he/she can personally volunteer to help someone at home or in the community. The list may be written or in the form of little drawings that are reminders of ideas. See the “ABCs of Philanthropy” for simple ideas for helping others and words related to giving and sharing for the common good. (See Bibliographical References)

  4. Talk about actions they can do for the common good for which they do not need to ask permission.

  5. Explain that you expect each student to choose a way to volunteer in the next week (or other time limit). At the end of the week, they must report back to the class about their volunteer experience.

  6. Make a class book describing different ways for a child to be a volunteer and help others. Each student is responsible for a page illustrating one act of volunteering or helping. The page should include art and writing.


The students will draw pictures (for a class book) to illustrate how they volunteered and write (or dictate) sentences about their volunteer service (description of and reaction to the activity).
Use the following rubric for evaluation:
3 – Picture and sentence illustrate the volunteer situation and reflect an understanding that they give freely of their time and talent.
2 – Either picture or sentence reflects a clear understanding but not both.
1 – Either picture or sentence is about volunteering but they do not show a clear understanding of the concept that time and talent is given freely.

Cross Curriculum 

In this lesson, the students choose their own ways to serve as volunteers (or philanthropists) at home, at school or in the neighborhood.
Note: This lesson can be tied with another Learning to Give unit: See “Phil’ Up on the Arts” (K-2) at In music class, the students learn that they can give through singing. They develop a music video or audio tape to be given to a local hospital (or daycare center).

Philanthropy Framework

  1. Strand PHIL.I Definitions of Philanthropy
    1. Standard DP 02. Roles of Government, Business, and Philanthropy
      1. Benchmark E.5 Recognize that volunteering requires freedom of choice.
  2. Strand PHIL.III Philanthropy and the Individual
    1. Standard PI 01. Reasons for Individual Philanthropy
      1. Benchmark E.5 Give examples of actions students can take to improve the common good and list or describe responsibilities that go with those actions.
      2. Benchmark E.7 Give classroom examples of when a student does not need the teacher's permission to act philanthropically.
  3. 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 03. Providing Service
      1. Benchmark E.1 Provide a needed service.

Academic Standards

Select categories to search for standards.

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