PrintOne Fifty-Minute Class Period

The learner will:

  • define the word community.
  • discuss the difficulties involved in coming to a new school.
  • define philanthropy.
  • identify words/concepts that are necessary components of a successful community.
  • identify the benefits of working toward the common good.
  • identify the opportunity cost associated with working for the common good.
  • Building Blocks – could be Jenga game-pieces, Dominos, Checkers, a length of 1” by 1” board cut into small square blocks. Each team will need about 30 pieces. (Elementary classrooms may have these to lend)
  • Two sheets of small mailing labels for each group made from the handout.
  • One copy of Building Blocks of a Community for each student.

Have the students complete the following prompt:
“My experience during this service project activity was like____________because_________________”
Have each student share his/her writing with the class. Challenge the class to listen for commonalities and differences in relation to their own writing.


  1. Anticipatory Set:

    Journal Entry/ Discussion Starters: Have students imagine feelings associated with entering a new school. What would be difficult or uncomfortable? What could make the experience less stressful?

    Ask students to share their answers with the group.

  2. Introduce this definition of community: "A group of people living in the same area and under the same government; a class or group having common interests and likes." Ask them to name 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.

  3. Put students into groups of 3-5 with a set of blocks and two printouts of the mailing labels. Tell students they are to work together to construct a community using blocks. The words they stick to the blocks signify what is part of the functioning 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 class; words/concepts they have in their communities and specific placement they used, as well as words they discarded. 

  4. *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 class 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.

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

Cross Curriculum 

Students may visit an elementary classroom to share 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.

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.