Best Day Ever!

6, 7, 8

Students look at how they typically spend a free day and see what that same free day would look like when it is infused with philanthropy. Students plan a free day, substituting their usual routine with activities that give back. They look at the benefits and opportunity costs involved in sacrificing personal time for the common good of their community. 

Lesson Rating 
PrintOne Fifty-Minute Class Period

The learner will:

  • complete a time budgeting sheet identifying activities for a typical non-school day.
  • state rationale as to why they chose the activities they did.
  • compare and contrast the value of “giving” time to community and “personal” time.
  • explore opportunity costs of acting for the common good.
  • describe the value and challenges of personal sacrifices.
  • a copy of Handout One: A Typical Day Off, for each student
  • student copies of Handout Two: Giving and Serving Labelsprinted on paper (not labels)
  • several copies of Handout Two: Giving and Serving Labels printed on labels for teacher use
  • four colors of markers and four sheets of banner or chart paper with one question on each:
  • What might motivate you to give time, talent or treasure for the benefit of others or the common good?
  • Is there a conflict between philanthropic acts and personal interests? Explain.
  • Why is philanthropy, giving for the benefit of another or the common good, important?
  • Do 7th/8th/9th graders have the power to change the world?  How?

Have students reflect back to the class about they day they spent doing philanthropic activities.


  1. Anticipatory Set:

    Ask students to share typical ways they spend their time on a day off from school. Record their answers on the board.

  2. Distribute student copies of the handout, A Typical Day Off. Instruct students to plan a “free” day, filling in typical or desired activities that they would choose. Be sure to stress the idea that even though many activities do not run for exactly one hour, for the purpose of this lesson, activities will be in one-hour increments. If they choose to engage in something for over an hour, they may block in two hours of time for that activity but they may not split an hour with more than one activity.

  3. Ask students to think about the activities they have on their charts. (You are not asking them to share at this point.) Have them think about approximately how much of their day is spent in isolation and how much of their time they are sharing with others. Reflect with them on the value of sharing their time as well as the value of having personal time.

  4. Ask if anyone has something on their chart that involves selfless giving of their time, talent, and/or treasure for the benefit of another or the common good.

  5. Ask students to think about why someone would want to “give” time for the common good rather than just spend time on themselves. Brainstorm a list of characteristics and motivations of someone who helps the community. Record their answers on the board or chart paper. Ask the students how they would feel if they were required to delete an activity on their list to make time for “giving.” What on their list would they be willing to give up? What would be difficult to give up?

  6. Hold up your copies of Handout Two: Giving and Serving Labels. Explain to the students that these are some alternative way to spend their “free” time. These are all philanthropic acts that contribute to the common good. (If necessary, review the definition of philanthropy and common good.) Tell the students you have sticky labels of different philanthropic activities to replace an hour on their Typical Day Off. Ask the students who would be willing to trade an hour on their sheet to do the first philanthropic act on the label sheet. The students who volunteer will each get that label to place on their chart over the activity they are willing to give up (their opportunity cost). Go to the next activity on the label sheet and follow the same procedure. (Make more than one sheet of labels to allow for students who are willing to trade, especially if they are able to get involved in an activity that a friend is participating in.) Continue through the labels until students have had an opportunity to consider each of the selections.

  7. Discuss the meaning of opportunity cost. When they chose to add a philanthropic activity to their day, the activity they sacrificed was the opportunity cost of giving their time for the common good. Whenever we make a choice, we give up an opportunity. That is the cost of our choices. When we choose to be philanthropic we make sacrifices for our personal time. Students must decide the value of giving is worth the personal cost.

  8. At this point, the students may not understand the value and fun of giving their time for the common good. Discuss the benefits to themselves and the community of making personal sacrifices to the common good.

  9. Put the class into four groups. Post the banners with a question on each (see Materials). Give each group a different color marker. Explain that they will be asked to go to a banner and write their responses to the question or statement. They will be given about 3 minutes to discuss and 1 minute to record their response. Each team will remain at the banner until the entire class is given the signal to move, to the next banner. (In other words, all groups will be moving simultaneously.)

  10. Take a few minutes to discuss and summarize the responses at each banner.

Cross Curriculum 

Students may plan together to do a class service project. Or they may look at their personal Day Off list and do the giving act they agreed to do on their own.

Philanthropy Framework

  1. 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. Standard PCS 03. Philanthropy and Economics
      1. Benchmark MS.3 Give examples of <i>opportunity cost</i> related to philanthropic giving by individuals and corporations.
    3. Standard PCS 05. Philanthropy and Government
      1. Benchmark MS.3 Identify the relationship between individual rights and community responsibilities.
  2. Strand PHIL.III Philanthropy and the Individual
    1. Standard PI 01. Reasons for Individual Philanthropy
      1. Benchmark MS.4 Identify and describe the actions of how citizens act for the common good.