Joy of Friends (The)
  1. 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.
    2. Standard PCS 02. Diverse Cultures
      1. Benchmark E.4 Demonstrate listening skills.
    3. Standard PCS 05. Philanthropy and Government
      1. Benchmark E.10 Give an example of an action by an individual or a private organization that has helped to enhance a fundamental democratic principle.
  2. 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.
  3. Strand PHIL.IV Volunteering and Service
    1. Standard VS 03. Providing Service
      1. Benchmark E.6 Describe the procedures and the importance of sensitivity to the people with whom students are working.
    2. Standard VS 05. Integrating the Service Experience into Learning
      1. Benchmark E.3 Identify outcomes from the service.

This lesson guides students to pursue an intergenerational friendship. Through literature, students also recognize the joy of sharing time, talent, and/or treasure—something kind and unexpected–with people about whom they care. Through literature students recognize the richness of developing friendships with people of a different generation. They also discuss making false assumptions from first impressions.

PrintSeven Forty Five-Minute Class Periods (The fourth is a field trip.)

The learner will:

  • recognize that friendships with people of different ages and background are enriching.
  • define philanthropy as the sharing of time, talent, or treasure for the common good.
  • state the concerns of incorrect first impressions.
  • conduct an interview with an elderly person.
  • write an acrostic poem.
  • draw or paint a picture of an elderly person.
  • create a slide show set to music.
  • read aloud copy of Chicken Sunday by Patricia Polacco
  • optional: tape recorders with cassettes for each student or pencil and pad of paper for taking notes at the interview
  • digital camera or camera and film developed as slides
  • slide projector/software suitable for a slide presentation
  • paper and paints or drawing materials
  • CD of Louis Armstrong singing "What a Wonderful World" and CD player
  • optional: snack to share with elderly friends on second visit to retirement home
  • copies for each student of Handouts One - Three
Home Connection: 

Interactive Parent / Student Homework: After the first day, the students bring home a letter asking parents to help them come up with appropriate questions for the interview. See Handout Two, Lesson One: Parent Letter/Interview Questions

  • Armstrong, Louis. What a Wonderful World (title track). Verve: 1968. ASIN: B000003N4G
  • Polacco, Patricia. Chicken Sunday. New York: Philomel Books, 1992. ISBN: 0399221336
  1. Anticipatory Set:

    Ask the students if they have ever had a first impression that turned out wrong. Listen to their responses. Ask them to be honest about what they think elderly people are like. Write down their words on the board. You want them to give their honest first impressions, but guide them to use appropriate words.

    Read the book Chicken Sunday by Patricia Polacco. Ask the students to describe Eula May, especially how the children in the story see her. Write these words in a column next to the first list on the board. Compare the lists.

    Tell the students that their first ideas were based on lack of experience. A first impression may be wrong because we may pre-judge, or use prejudice. Tell them that when they meet someone new, having an "open mind" may allow them to meet someone very interesting.

    Challenge the students to identify someone in the story who was wrong about a first impression and prejudged someone (the store keeper).

  2. Write the word "philanthropy" on the board and define it as giving or sharing time, talent, and/or treasure for the common good. Ask the students who in the story gave something to someone else. After each example, ask students to identify whether it was an example of time, talent, or treasure. Decide as a group whether there is philanthropy in the story.

  3. Play a CD of Louis Armstrong singing "What a Wonderful World." Ask the students to listen to the words carefully. (Get a copy of the lyrics from the Internet.)

  4. Divide the students into small discussion groups to discuss the many friendships in the book and state why friendships with people who are different from oneself can be wonderful. They should write their collective thoughts on the handout "Friendship Discussion."

  5. Come together as a class again and ask one person from each group to share something from their discussions. This may spark a whole-class discussion about the value of developing new friendships (especially outside our comfort zones).

  6. Tell the students that they are going to have a chance to make friends with an elderly person when they visit a retirement community and are teamed up with someone for a discussion. Explain the goals of the meeting.

  7. The teacher will explain the homework project. (Family Letter/Interview Questions.)

  8. Day Two

  9. In their homework, the students and their families generated some interview questions for getting to know a person at the retirement community. Divide the students into small groups and tell them to share and discuss these questions. Tell them to come to consensus about which 6-8 questions they think are best to use and why. They may change the wording and come up with new questions.

    • The questions should be respectful and promote reflection and discussion.
    • The questions should also help students learn about the things that matter to their new friends and how they were philanthropists.
    • Later they will be writing poems about these people and they need to know about their character. 
  10. Each small group will present its list of questions to the whole group. Help the class come to a consensus about which are the best 10 questions to actually use in the interviews. The teacher may add questions needed to help students understand how the elderly residents lived and contributed to their communities and society.

  11. Note: Make a final copy for each student of the ten final interview questions.

  12. Day Three

  13. Teach the students some interviewing techniques and active listening skills. Tell the students that it is important for them to come to the meeting with an open mind. This is an opportunity to make a new friend. They should be prepared for learning about the other person’s life, but also be ready to share their own information. The residents may have a lot to share or they may prefer to listen. Prepare them for physical handicaps such as hearing loss. Discuss the importance of being sensitive and respectful.

  14. Students divide into pairs and role-play/practice the questioning, talking, and active listening process.

  15. Conclude with a summary discussion of expectations.

  16. Day Four: Field trip to retirement facility

  17. The students visit the retirement/nursing home and are paired up with an elderly person. Students and residents get acquainted through a friendly discussion. The students may use the interview questions as a guide and take notes about information that may be important for a future writing project.

  18. Take a picture of each student and resident.

  19. When you return to class, discuss student reactions and first impressions. Ask students to articulate any concerns or surprises about the experience.

  20. Day Five

  21. Remind the students of the character Eula May in the book Chicken Sunday by Patricia Polacco. Show the students an acrostic poem using her name. Example:

  22. Everyone hears her voice that sounds like slow thunder and sweet rain

    Usually happy and cheerful

    Loves to wear beautiful hats

    Always fries chicken for dinner on Sunday

    Makes the children laugh

    Asks for nothing in return

    You can’t help loving her.

  23. Tell the students to write an acrostic poem using the name of the new friend. They should refer to their notes or the tape recording for details about that person’s life. Students should take this writing through the writing process and prepare a final copy.

  24. Day Six

  25. The students each draw or paint a picture of the elderly friend.

  26. The students can assist in the development of a computer-generated slide show of the photos of each student with a resident. The music and words from the song "What a Wonderful World" by Louis Armstrong should be inserted into the slide show or play in the background as the pictures are projected.

  27. Day Seven

  28. When they are ready, the students return to the retirement home. They present their friends with the poetry and pictures, and watch the slide presentation. They could bring a game, or story or book to read to their friend and continue to build on these new friendships that have been formed.


At the conclusion of this lesson the students will write a journal entry reflecting on their experience. The teacher will also evaluate the poetry and pictures that the students created according level of engagement and willingness to participate.