Traditions—Our World and Philanthropy

6, 7, 8

Using the themes and content of geography, learners examine and demonstrate knowledge of cultural elements and traditions of selected nations of the world and how they impact philanthropy and stewardship in world regions.

Lesson Rating 
PrintFour to Five Forty-Five Minute Class Periods (or two and one-half block class periods)

The learner will:

  • demonstrate knowledge of philanthropy and stewardship.
  • locate and describe physical features of one nation in each continent.
  • understand the concept of terrain and the relationship of terrain to movement of peoples and cultural diversity.
  • demonstrate knowledge of cultural features of one nation in each continent.
  • investigate a continent and find examples of cultural elements.
  • explain how and why nonprofit organizations were formed in the nation selected.
  • Poster board
  • Markers
  • Paper & pencil
  • National Geographic or History magazines
  • Index cards or tag board—5" by 7", larger preferred
  • Glue sticks
  • String and a wire hanger
  • Local school geography text or several resource texts from the school library, local library
  • Atlases
  • Class access to computers with Internet connection for research
  • School/Home Connections (Attachment Two)
  • K-W-L-H, a Graphic Organizer (Attachment Three)
  • Journal
Teacher Preparation 

Instructor Notes: This unit of instruction connects the five themes of geography with major themes of philanthropy. Those five themes briefly are:

  • Location in which learners explore both absolute and relative location.
  • Place where we uncover human and physical elements of the study.
  • Human-Environmental Interactions during which learners discover how and why humans depend on their environment; the modifications they make, and finally how humans adapt to their environment.
  • Movement where this theme explores how people, ideas, goods and services are transferred, moved and transported.
  • Regions are explored as geographic form, their functions, and perceptions.
Home Connection 

Letter explaining the unit their child will be studying for the next three or four weeks (Attachment One: Parent Letter). Parents will also be asked to fill out a chart with their child comparing their life and cultural traditions with that of their grandparents (Attachment Two: School/Home Connections).


Education Planet: Educational resources, including explorations of different cultures.

Smith, Bradford, Sylvia Shue, Jennifer Lisa Vest and Joseph Villared. Philanthropy in Communities of Color. Bloomington & Indianapolis: Indiana University Press, 1999.

The New Lexicon: Webster's Dictionary of the English Language. Copyright 1987. New York: Lexicon Publications, Inc., 1988.


  1. Anticipatory Set: Play music from a culture of your choice. Then display either items or pictures from the culture you chose. Discuss the differences between the culture and the cultures represented by your learners. Explain that the characteristics of the culture are known as Cultural Elements. Have the learners make a list of beliefs, traditions, arts and customs within their own school community. Expand that to a school/home connection, discussing and listing their unique family beliefs, traditions, arts and customs. Develop the idea that art includes all the creative arts, which include food preparation, sewing, knitting, fly tying, wood working etc. Develop concepts appropriate to the objectives and outcomes.


    Culture (n) The act of developing intellectual ability with education; a form of civilization, particularly the beliefs, arts, and customs - culture (v) Non-governmental organization (NGO) (n) Term used by non-American countries to define the nonprofit sector Philanthropy (n) 1. The giving of one's time, talent or treasure for the sake of another- or for the common good - Robert Payton, 2. Voluntary action for the public good -Robert Payton, 3. Voluntary giving, voluntary service, and voluntary association, primarily for the benefit of others - Robert Payton, 4. Giving and serving -Richard J. Bentley and Luana G. Nissan, 5. Active effort to promote human welfare, 6. A tradition, a spirit, and a sector of society - Maurice G. Gurin and Jon Van Til Pluralism (n) The coexistence of distinct cultural, ethnic, or religious groups within a single society Social sector (n) Referring to the nonprofit sector emphasizing work with and to better society Stewardship (n) A process whereby an organization seeks to be worthy of continued philanthropic support, including the acknowledgement of gifts, donor recognition, the honoring of donor intent, prudent investment of gifts, and the effective and efficient use of funds to further the mission of the organization. The position or work of a steward. Talent (n) The aptitude, disposition, or characteristic ability of a person - talented (adj.), talentless (adj.) Tradition (n) The doctrines, knowledge, practices, and customs passed down from one generation

  2. Develop the concepts of philanthropy and stewardship using the definitions in the preceding chart.Use the American Red Cross as an example of an American nonprofit and the International Red Cross and Crescent Red Cross as examples of a Non-Governmental organization in other countries. Ask learners to identify other philanthropic organizations they know about. Ask if they can name a philanthropist in their school or community. Ask them to name someone they know who has volunteered and explain that action as one of philanthropy.

  3. As a whole group, discuss their prior knowledge of American culture and traditions. Talk about this being a nation of indigenous people and immigrants, all different cultures, traditions, and beliefs. Develop the concept of pluralism. Guide learners to the understanding that cultural elements include things such as family life, clothing, music, food, dance, or religion. Ask learners to see if they can give examples of things that are unique to the United State.

  4. Give each learner Attachment Two: School/Home Connections and allow two days to return to instructor.

  5. Pair learners and allow learners to use magazines, texts and other reference materials from your local school library or media center as well as scheduled time in a computer lab or access to in-room computers. Explain that they need to find five examples of cultural elements from one nation of each continent. One element must be to discover a non-governmental organization in that region. Each pair is to complete a K-W-L-H chart found at the end of this lesson as Attachment Three: K-W-L-H, a Graphic Organizer. They are to draw their own pictures or if magazines can be used, cut pictures from the magazines.

  6. Learners will glue each picture to a sheet of tag board, manila or construction paper, or large index card, label the other side, and string it all together to make a mobile. Each pair should produce a mobile and each pair is to complete a K-W-L-H chart found at the end of this lesson as Attachment Three: K-W-L-H, a Graphic Organizer.

  7. Learners will present their mobiles. Assign journal writing. Each learner is to write three things they learned about the cultural region presented.

  8. Discuss the concepts of cultural focus and cultural relativity, the relationship that exists between them, and how it affects a country's concepts of philanthropy and stewardship.

  9. As a class, form a hypothesis as to why nonprofit organizations might be important in world cultures. Have them give examples from their research.

  10. Explain that they are going to study the cultural traditions of world regions.

  11. Discuss how cultural traditions affect each region's beliefs and practices of philanthropy and stewardship.


Classroom participation. Completion of school/home connection in timely submission. Evaluate the Venn Diagram to compare and contrast their own cultural traditions to those of one other cultural group. Evaluate the mobiles completed by each pair of learners. Instructor-designed quiz or test on geography content.

Philanthropy Framework

  1. Strand PHIL.I Definitions of Philanthropy
    1. Standard DP 01. Define Philanthropy
      1. Benchmark MS.1 Define philanthropy as individuals and organizations providing their time, talent, and/or treasures intended for the common good throughout history and around the world. Give examples.
      2. Benchmark MS.4 Give examples of how individuals have helped others.
    2. Standard DP 04. Operational Characteristics of Nonprofit Organizations
      1. Benchmark MS.3 Describe how a specific civil society organization in the community operates.
  2. 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. Benchmark MS.3 Give an example of how philanthropy can transcend cultures.
    2. Standard PCS 07. Skills of Civic Engagement
      1. Benchmark MS.4 Analyze information to differentiate fact from opinion based on the investigation of issues related to the common good.
  3. Strand PHIL.III Philanthropy and the Individual
    1. Standard PI 01. Reasons for Individual Philanthropy
      1. Benchmark MS.3 Identify and give examples of stewardship in cultural traditions around the world.