Building Blocks of a Community

6, 7, 8

Groups analyze and define the concept of community. They identify the benefits and sacrifices involved in actions for the common good in their role as citizens.

PrintOne Fifty-Minute Class Session

The learner will:

  • define the words philanthropy and community.
  • identify concepts that are necessary components of a successful community.
  • (optional) building blocks – about 30 pieces/group. (elementary classrooms may have these to lend)
  • two sheets of small mailing labels for each group made from the handout Community Components
  • one copy of Building Blocks of a Community for each learner
Teacher Preparation 

Learners may share and discuss with younger children the book Have you Filled a Bucket Today? by Carol McCloud. This book gives a simple and inspiring message about the power of kindness in making the world a better place. This service promotes philanthropy in the community by encouraging young children to be philanthropists.


  1. Anticipatory Set:

    Introduce this definition of community: "A group of people living in the same area and under the same government; a group having common interests and likes." 

    Brainstorm some communities they belong to, including the school community. Ask them: What makes a community work/function? What might cause a community to fail? Take a few minutes to discuss.

  2. Put youth into groups of 3-5 with a set of blocks and two printouts of the mailing labels. They are to work together to construct a community using blocks. The words they stick to the blocks signify the essential components of the community.

    Block placement is symbolic. If a word is key to the foundation of the community, it may go in one place. If it is detrimental to the community (intolerance), it will go in another. Explain that they may discard any words they feel are unneeded or add words on the extra blank labels in the collection. The groups will have approximately 20 minutes to build their community in collaboration.

    Tell them they will need to be ready to spend 3 minutes describing their structure to the whole group regarding the words/concepts they have in their communities and specific placement they used, as well as words they discarded. 

    Note: This may be done without 3-D blocks, and just cut out and arrange the words from the handout.

  3. *Note: You may consider taking a few minutes to discuss the potential placement of the blocks. Example: those on the bottom may represent the necessary “foundation” or blocks that “support” the structure. Blocks placed inside may symbolize values or concepts that are at the “heart” of the community. If your group is extremely creative, they may do better with no prompting to come up with the symbolization on their own. Or you may do this as you circulate the room on an individual basis with teams that need additional prompting.

  4. Once groups have had an opportunity to share their community structure, distribute a copy of Building Blocks of a Community, and have them complete the questions. If time allows, have them share with their team members or “whole group.”

Philanthropy Framework

  1. Strand PHIL.II Philanthropy and Civil Society
    1. Standard PCS 05. Philanthropy and Government
      1. Benchmark MS.1 Identify different types of communities with which an individual might identify.
  2. Strand PHIL.IV Volunteering and Service
    1. Standard VS 01. Needs Assessment
      1. Benchmark MS.1 Identify a need in the school, local community, state, nation, or world.