Best Day Ever!
  1. Strand PHIL.II Philanthropy and Civil Society
    1. Standard PCS 02. Diverse Cultures
      1. Benchmark MS.1 Examine several examples of philanthropic traditions practiced in diverse cultures.
    2. Standard PCS 03. Philanthropy and Economics
      1. Benchmark MS.3 Give examples of <i>opportunity cost</i> related to philanthropic giving by individuals and corporations.
    3. Standard PCS 05. Philanthropy and Government
      1. Benchmark MS.3 Identify the relationship between individual rights and community responsibilities.
  2. Strand PHIL.III Philanthropy and the Individual
    1. Standard PI 01. Reasons for Individual Philanthropy
      1. Benchmark MS.4 Identify and describe the actions of how citizens act for the common good.

Youth make a chart of how they typically spend a free day and then envision what that same free day would look like when it is infused with philanthropy. They plan a free day, substituting their usual routine with activities that serve the community. They discuss the benefits and opportunity costs involved in sacrificing personal time for the common good of their community. 

PrintOne Fifty-Minute Session

The learner will:

  • complete a time budgeting sheet for a typical day.
  • define the opportunity cost of acting for the common good.
  • copies of handout: A Typical Day Off, also in Google Docs
  • read aloud copy of a book about generously giving, such as Miss Rumphius, Rainbow Weaver, One Plastic Bag, or Say Something
  • download padlet for classroom discussion
  1. Anticipatory Set:

    Read aloud one of these books: Miss Rumphius, Rainbow Weaver, One Plastic Bag, or Say Something (or a similar book about someone who gives their personal time for others). Talk about how the characters' actions promote the success of the whole community.

  2. On the handout, A Typical Day Off,  each person records what they do on a free day by filling in typical or desired activities that they would choose to do. Be sure to stress that many activities do not run for exactly one hour but for the purpose of this lesson, activities will be in one-hour increments. If something normally lasts more than an hour, they may block off two (or more) blocks for that activity. Give them about 10 minutes to fill in this chart.

  3. Working as a group, tell youth to look over what they’ve entered on their handout and put an “A” (for alone) next to things they do individually. Have them put a “G” (for group), next to activities that are completed with others. Ask them to pay attention to how much personal time they have vs. time spent with friends and family.

  4. Review the definition of philanthropy: "giving your time, talent or treasure for the common good." Have them put a star (*) next to any of their activities that involve taking action or giving on behalf of others (volunteering, speaking up for others).

  5. They turn to a partner (or on the Padlet) and give a reason why someone would want to “give” time for the common good rather than just do things for themself. Discuss:

    1. What are some characteristics and motivations of someone who helps the community? (add to Padlet or record on chart paper)
    2. How would you feel if you were required to delete an activity on your list to make time for “giving?”
    3. What activity would you be willing to give up? What activity might be hard to give up?
  6. What are some generous acts you could spend an hour on? See handout of labels for kind acts that could cover up the typical day hours. What would be the value of giving time for the good of others?

  7. Discuss the meaning of opportunity cost: "the top opportunity given up when we make a decision." For example, the opportunity cost of choosing to play baseball after school may be spending less time on homework. 

    The opportunity cost of choosing to use an hour of one's time is the sacrifice of missing a typical activity. Whenever we make a choice, we give up an opportunity. That is the cost of our choices. When we choose to be philanthropic, we make sacrifices of our personal time. A philanthropist must decide that the value of giving is worth the personal cost. 

    At this point, they may not understand the value and fun of giving their time for the common good. Discuss the benefits to themselves and the community of making personal sacrifices for the common good.

  8. Brainstorm actions that use time or talent to help others in their community/neighborhood. 

    Ask: How would giving or taking action in this way make a positive impact on our community?

    *If you’ve completed the Blue Sky Visioning Activity, you can remind youth of the ideas they had during that discussion that would make their world a better place to live. Activities to make that happen might be something they’d be willing to put time and energy into.

  9. Move participants into four groups (you should have breakout rooms set up for this if you’re meeting virtually). Assign each group a different colored marker. The groups move from poster to poster (or between virtual rooms). Each poster has one of the questions below on it. In their groups, they have 5-10 minutes to discuss and answer the question (and read other groups' responses). Encourage them to write something original and not just copy what a previous group has written. When groups are finished, rotate to the next poster/room. Repeat this process until each group has answered all four questions.

    1. What might motivate you to give your time, talent or treasure for the benefit of others?
    2. Is there a conflict between philanthropic acts and personal interest? Explain why or why not.
    3. Why is philanthropy important?
    4. Do middle schoolers (or teens) have the power to make a difference in the world? How?
  10. Read through together what all of the groups wrote on each of the posters. Note themes that come up with their answers. Guide the discussion toward the importance of social action and generosity and how even little things that they do make them world changers.

  11. They may plan together to do a group service project, or each individual may choose a giving action from their personal Day Off list.


Exit slip: Knowing what you now know about philanthropy, common good and opportunity cost, write a couple of sentences about something that you, personally, can do to make a positive difference in the world. (Enter this on the Padlet.)


They reflect back to the group about the day they spent doing philanthropic activities.