Cleaning Up

K, 1, 2

This lesson introduces/reviews the definition of a philanthropist.  Students become philanthropists themselves by taking care of trash found within their own classroom/school environment.

Lesson Rating 
PrintOne 45 class period, Plus Project Time

The learner will:

  • recognize their connection to the classroom environment.
  • respond to the story The Wartville Wizard by Don Madden.
  • identify the beginning, middle and the ending of the story.
  • define philanthropy as giving of time, talent, and treasure for the common good.
  • tally and graph a variety of trash or recyclable objects.
  • participate in a small action for the common good of the school.
  • Trash items (see teacher note)
  • Read-aloud copy of the book The Wartville Wizard by Don Madden
  • White paper
  • Six containers for the recyclable trash
  • Tally sheets and bar graphs with markers for each recycle container
Home Connection 

Send home Handout One: Homework. This letter explains the purpose of the unit, a project for them to work on at home, and a list of trash ideas for them to bring into school.

  • Madden, Don.  The Wartville Wizard.  Aladdin, 1993.  ISBN: 0689716672.


  1. Notes for Teaching: Before students enter the room, litter the classroom with trash, such as candy wrappers, pop cans, cups, straws, toilet paper rolls, fast food containers, Popsicle sticks, andempty plastic milk containers. Anticipatory Set:The students enter their classroom environment and find it littered with trash. Allow for student reaction time.

  2. Call students over to a common meeting area to discuss their reactions to thetrash found within their learning area. Guide their discussion with questions such as: How do you feel about the mess? Why do you feel that way? Would it bother you if this mess was in another classroom or outside or in another place (store, library, movie or theater)? What can be done about it?How do you feel about this classroom and your learning area? Does it feel like your space? Why do you like a neat space?

  3. Show the students the cover of the book The Wartville Wizard by Don Madden (see Bibliographical References) and ask them what they think the man may have inside the large bag on his back. They can look at the man's expression and the clue of the can on the cover. Talk about the name "Wartville" and the image that gives them of the town. Review the meaning of the word wizard (magic person). Wartville has a problem similar to the classroom problem--a mess. Tell the students to listen for how the main character solves the problem in the story.

  4. During reading: After the first page, ask the students to predict what the wizard saw when he went outside. Ask the students to identify the characters and the setting of the story. Identify the magic used.What does the word "slob" mean? What does the author mean by "Your trash has come home to you"?

  5. After reading, pass out a paper to each student and teach them to fold the paper into thirds. Tell students to identify what happened at the beginning, middle, and end of the story by writing a sentence and/or drawing a picture.

  6. Ask the students to speculate on howthey think the author of this book feels about trash. Relate this to how they feel about trash in the classroom and outside the building, around their homes, and in the community. Review the definition of a philanthropist (a person who gives time, talent, or treasure or takes action for the common good) and discuss whether the wizard was a philanthropist. What was the common good in the story?

  7. Ask the students whether they think we have a trash problem within our school community or local community? If so, what (nonmagical) action could they take for the common good? Discuss some possible actions.

  8. Tell the students that their first action will be to clean up the mess in the room by sorting and recycling. Tell them to look at the trash around the room and think of categories of materials the trash is made from, such as paper, plastic, rubber, wood, metal and foam. Provide six containers or bags. The students can help decide how the containers should be labeled and then make the signs to display above them. The students will sort the trash into the trash containers according to the various materials from which they are made.

  9. Ask the students whether they cooperated with one another while picking up the trash found within their classroom. Then ask if they can think of areas around the school that can benefit from their cooperative efforts for the common good. Ask the students how they think the other students will respond when they observe their efforts.Will others decide to follow their example? Make a plan to carry outa small cooperative cleanup project and agree to discuss the experience in a given amount of time.

  10. Send home Handout One: Homework. The students will bring to school more trash/objects and place them in the proper labeled containers.

  11. Place a bar graph and tally sheet above each container for the students to mark as they add materials to the containers. Choose one student per container/per day who is responsible for reporting the number of materials on the graph and tally sheet. (Make a responsibility chart so students know which day they will be reporting.) Discuss and compare the number of items in each container.The students will use these items for an art project so encourage them to continue bringing items in for several days.


Assess through observation, student participation during class trash discussion, story questions, and the classroom clean-up. After students participate in an action for the common good of the school, discuss what they did and how other students reacted. Discuss how they felt about sharing their time for the common good. Observe students reactions to assess their level of participation and enthusiasm.


Philanthropy Framework

  1. Strand PHIL.I Definitions of Philanthropy
    1. Standard DP 01. Define Philanthropy
      1. Benchmark E.1 Define philanthropy as the giving and sharing of time, talent, or treasure intended for the common good.
      2. 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.
    3. Standard DP 04. Operational Characteristics of Nonprofit Organizations
      1. Benchmark E.1 Describe how citizens organize in response to a need.
  2. Strand PHIL.II Philanthropy and Civil Society
    1. Standard PCS 01. Self, citizenship, and society
      1. Benchmark E.3 Describe a benefit of group cooperation.
    2. Standard PCS 05. Philanthropy and Government
      1. Benchmark E.1 Define community as the degree that people come together for the common good.
      2. Benchmark E.9 Describe how philanthropic activities can bring about social change.
  3. Strand PHIL.III Philanthropy and the Individual
    1. Standard PI 01. Reasons for Individual Philanthropy
      1. Benchmark E.4 Give an example of how citizens act for the common good.
      2. Benchmark E.5 Give examples of actions students can take to improve the common good and list or describe responsibilities that go with those actions.
  4. Strand PHIL.IV Volunteering and Service
    1. Standard VS 01. Needs Assessment
      1. Benchmark E.1 Identify a need in the school, local community, state, nation, or world.
    2. Standard VS 03. Providing Service
      1. Benchmark E.1 Provide a needed service.