Generosity and Service While Practicing Social Distancing

Even though many states are now officially out of quarantine, social distancing is still encouraged. Participating in social distancing is an act of generosity and civic duty toward yourself and one another during this virus outbreak throughout the world. Social distancing, more aptly named physical distancing, which means we are unable to engage at close physical proximity, can feel isolating and difficult. Calling attention to the generous nature of this global effort can help us feel better about the difficulty of staying apart from friends, loved ones, and strangers in traditional public settings like restaurants and stores.

It is important to be aware of and process our feelings, and taking action is one way to move through those feelings. A silver-lining in this time of social distancing is that people and organizations are demonstrating generosity and looking for ways to make a difference. In times of uncertainty the question of “how and where do we fit in all of this?” is on everyone's mind. As caring adults, we can help young people find their fit through empathy and generosity. Learning to Give can help with resources and information.

As teachers and nonprofit organizations, we are fortunate to be in a position as positive change agents. We are trusted voices to support community healing. Learning to Give is committed to promoting dialogue and skills for you to help young people consider their role in promoting a more just and equitable society. This is a long-term progression from the youngest conversations about kindness to responding to literature to the more sophisticated lessons on advocacy or analyzing roots and effects. We are all in this together, and together we will build a future that prioritizes social justice and progress. As a result, we've added a number of social justice related lesson plans and activities for you to share or help your kids' complete while practicing social distancing this summer. 

While many of our children are out of school until the fall, or possibly even longer, we are all challenged with how to keep them occupied, engaged and willing to continue to learn. Teaching generosity and service-learning can help you meet that need! 


  • The lesson “Neighborhood Vision” may inspire an outdoor cleanup. Have your kids spend some time getting fresh air by creating a clean and welcoming environment for wildlife and friends in their own backyard. They can make vision boards of how they would like to make their community better and share them with their class when school is back in session. 
  • The lesson plans and service-learning project ideas in this toolkit relate to Justice, Civil Rights, and Advocacy. This step-by-step guide helps teachers and parents to teach the background of justice and advocacy. It provides local and online community resources, and sparks ideas for actions related to advocacy, justice, and civil rights.
  • Learn about the process of service-learning to investigate an issue and make a plan to address it through our talents and passion for making a difference. This video gives an overview, and these resources walk through the process.
  • Art in all its forms can help us thrive. Many young people are decorating front windows, sidewalks, and creating signs to thank essential workers. This lesson teaches about the value of art to survival. “Powerful Words Can Warm the Heart
  • Use our Simple Safe Service project guides to  give your family ideas for generous actions that encourage youth voice and promote the common good, even when we are apart. Each project includes step-by-step instructions, reflection, and a connection to an optional lesson plan. 
  • Rainy day? Encourage 6-12th grade students to try our Video Discussion Guides. Each guide includes a 2-15 minute video clip, discussion questions, and a follow-up activity.
  • Share this video “Philanthropy and Service-Learning: Why Do They Matter?”  with your kids to help them understand the word and act of philanthropy.
  • Teach a lesson or do an activity that prompts discussion about generosity. Learning to Give has hundreds of lessons and resources you can use for free. Get Started here.
  • Simply TeachOne! Here are daily lesson plans, project ideas, and resources to help you link learning to generosity during social distancing. These lesson plans provide conversations starters for you and your family about our roles in civil society.


  • Read and share books about social justice, equity, diversity and inclusion. 20 Picture Books via Embrace Race
  • Think critically about racism, whiteness and class with lessons and activities from Showing Up For Social Justice
  • Build empathy by asking, “I wonder what [my friend, my grandma, my neighbor] feels like in this isolation? Write notes and send one every day starting today! Just pick a time and be consistent, and encourage your kids to write notes, letters, stories, or draw pictures and then send them to people they care about, troops overseas, or to local nursing home facilities.   
  • Organize a neighborhood treasure hunt for your kids through a neighborhood communication (Facebook group). Tell neighbors to put paper shamrocks/eggs/flowers in their windows, and then children can get some fresh air by walking through the neighborhood finding as many shamrocks/eggs/flowers in neighboring windows as possible!
  • Create a song about philanthropy. Go a step further and post it to social media sharing with us @LearningtoGive #LearningtoGive
  • The shared experience of reading a book is powerful in many ways. Children learn reading, listening, and comprehension skills, while together you celebrate the joys and sorrows that good literature presents. Literature brings us closer and introduces real issues and broadens experience in a safe environment. Try our literature guides and tips for making your time reading aloud with children more meaningful and effective. 
  • Get to know your kids and what they care about with this Blue Sky envisioning activity. Your kids will understand themselves and their community and imagine a better world. Then, as a family you can discuss first steps you can take to making that vision a reality.
  • What’s a fun thing to do with kids that also incorporates math? Baking! With this you will not only get a sweet treat, but you’ll also help strengthen your child’s fraction work and addition.
  • Build something! Use paper, glue, tape, string, boxes, etc. and build towers, bridges, slides, swings, etc. Create a whole city! Be resourceful and creative.
  • Set up a donation corner in your home. Go through your clothes, toys, etc. and organize the items you plan to donate, but be sure to check your local donation centers to see if they are actively accepting donations. If they are not, store your items until the centers re-open. 
  • Check in online or call the help-line of local shelters, hospitals, and other facilities to find out how you can support their wish lists. 
  • Donate to local food pantries to help those who rely on school meals during the week.
  • Make a list of positive, uplifting, and energizing music to share with others. Then share it on social media! @learningtogive #LearningtoGive 

Other Resources

  • Use this list of anti-racism resources curated by Sarah Sophie Flicker and Alyssa Klein and shared with LTG through our partner the Jewish Teen Funders Network (JTFN):
  • Talk to your children about online safety since they are online more than ever. Follow these tips from the U.S. Department of Justice.
  • Watch these inspiring “Kindness 101” videos with CBS TV’s On the Road with Steve Hartman.
  • Play games that are fun and active with your family: Play Works
  • Turn being at home into a positive! This article by Greater Good Magazine offers a few suggestions for how you can take this time with your family to strengthen your relationships
  • Ideas to act for the common good during the COVID-19 crisis via YSA. Youth Service America 

It is vital that we look to the positive in times of uncertainty. In the next few weeks or months, we are given the gift of deliberately slowing down, reducing our busy schedules, and making time for the family and friends closest to us in our lives. Many of us may be facing a shift in work and how we work, to not being able to work at all. Together, we’ll get through this. We ALL have something to give.