Helping Others
  1. Strand PHIL.I Definitions of Philanthropy
    1. Standard DP 01. Define Philanthropy
      1. Benchmark E.4 Define and give examples of selfishness and selflessness.
    2. Standard DP 02. Roles of Government, Business, and Philanthropy
      1. Benchmark E.6 Explain why acting philanthropically is good for the community, state, nation, or world.
  2. Strand PHIL.II Philanthropy and Civil Society
    1. Standard PCS 02. Diverse Cultures
      1. Benchmark E.4 Demonstrate listening skills.
  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.
      2. Benchmark E.9 Give examples how people give time, talent or treasure in different cultures.

In this lesson, the students will recognize that working together and helping others are worth the effort (opportunity costs) in this Chinese tall tale.  The skills of listening, predicting and explaining are all employed in this lesson.

PrintOne-Hour Class Period, Plus Follow-up Act of Helpfulness
The learner will:
  • recognize the importance of working together for the common good.
  • listen and discuss the meanings of the metaphors in the story.
  • identify examples of exaggeration, or hyperbole, in the tall tale.
  • identify the opportunity costs of helping others.
  • brainstorm examples of ways to help others by sharing talents.
  • the book, The Seven Chinese Brothers (see Bibliographical References )
  • world map
Home Connection: 
Interactive Parent / Student Homework: Students will investigate what types of flowers they can find in their home environment. This may include their yard, neighborhood or a local park. Have them make sketches or a list of what they find. Ask the students to bring to school the next day a picture of a flower cut from a magazine or newspaper. This picture could also be one that the child creates with crayons or markers. These pictures will be used to fill a classroom bulletin board or a class book. (Teacher may add pictures to fill in as appropriate).

Mahy, Margaret. The Seven Chinese Brothers. New York: Scholastic, Inc., 1990. ISBN: 0590420577

  1. Anticipatory Set: Tell the class that this is an old tall tale from China. Show students on a map where China is located. Emphasize that it is in the continent of Asia. Tell the students that the story takes place during the reign of the powerful Emperor Ch’in Shih Huang, between the years of 259-210 B.C. Explain briefly how long ago in the past this is. This emperor was responsible for having the Great Wall of China built. Building the wall was dangerous work that killed and hurt many thousands of workers. In this story, seven talented brothers attempt to help the suffering workers.

  2. Read The Seven Chinese Brothers aloud. Ask the students to identify the tall tale elements of the story (ears that hear a fly sneeze from a hundred miles away, bones like iron, etc.).
  3. While reading, stop each time to talk about the metaphors that describe the emperor. Ask the students to visualize the metaphors and decide whether they could really be accurate (face is more dazzling than the rising sun, whisper like the rumble of thunder, glance like a flash of lightning). Talk about what these metaphors tell us about the emperor.
  4. After reading, discuss why the brothers chose to help the workers with the wall. Did the brothers share their time, talent, or treasure for the common good? Discuss the opportunity cost to the brothers for helping the workers. Define opportunity cost as what is given up when someone makes a choice to do something. Do the students think the brothers would help again if given the chance or was the cost of helping too great?
  5. In this story, the brothers worked well together. Each talent alone was great, but in the story, none of them could have survived alone without the talents of the others. Discuss this concept and ask the students to relate it to their own efforts. Lead them to choosing to work together for the common good.
  6. Brainstorm examples of things the class can do to help others in the school. Ask the students to think about their talents and resources they have to share. Ask students to weigh the opportunity costs and benefits of their contributions. Then, help the class carry out a plan to do something for an individual or for the common good at school. List the steps, resources, and outcomes of the plan.
  7. As an alternative approach, have students make personal goals. Over the course of the week, they must find some way to help someone who is down. After they pass on this kindness, they report what they did to the rest of the class. Encourage them to perform the act selflessly and avoid using names when reporting. Define selflessness and give examples.
Assessment takes place during the course of the lesson. Check for comprehension as you observe the children's participation in discussions. Also assess their understanding as they report on their kind act.