How Can We Care?

6, 7, 8

Learners read and discuss a story about an act of caring. They brainstorm five ideas for simple acts of caring that make a difference to at least one person.

Lesson Rating 
PrintOne 20-minute lesson

The learners will:

  • read and respond to a story about making a difference with small acts of caring.
  • brainstorm and write examples of five acts of caring.

a list of causes and social issues


  1. Anticipatory Set:

    In the face of all the issues and needs in the world, we can feel like our small efforts don't make a difference. Remind students that we don't need money or fame to make a difference. We all have time and talent that can be used to brighten someone's day. 

  2. Read this story to the learners:

    An early morning tide brought in and stranded thousands of starfish on a beach. An elderly man, out for a morning stroll, noticed these thousands of stranded starfish and began tossing them one-by-one back into the sea in an effort to save them from certain death. A young jogger on the beach could see a person on the shoreline going back and forth. As he approached, he realized it was a man throwing starfish back into the sea. The jogger thought this was a futile act since the man could not possibly save all the starfish. As he passed the man, he stopped and said, “You must be crazy. There are thousands of starfish. You can't possibly make a difference." While picking up yet another starfish and pausing for only the briefest of moments, the elderly man held out the starfish in his hand to the jogger and said as he turned to toss it back into the sea, "I sure made a difference to that one!"

  3. Discuss the meaning of the story and how it applies to us as people who care.

  4. Students draw a starfish shape on drawing paper. In each of the five legs, they write one small act of caring they can do with their time, talent, or treasure (or voice). They may work in small groups, but each student should create their own.

Cross Curriculum 

This character education mini-lesson is not intended to be a service learning lesson or to meet the K-12 Service-Learning Standards for Quality Practice. The character education units will be most effective when taught in conjunction with a student-designed service project that provides a real world setting in which students can develop and practice good character and leadership skills. For ideas and suggestions for organizing service events go to

Philanthropy Framework

  1. Strand PHIL.II Philanthropy and Civil Society
    1. Standard PCS 01. Self, citizenship, and society
      1. Benchmark MS.4 Describe the characteristics of someone who helps others.
    2. Standard PCS 02. Diverse Cultures
      1. Benchmark MS.2 Describe the importance of hearing all voices in a community and respecting their right to be heard.
      2. Benchmark MS.3 Give an example of how philanthropy can transcend cultures.
  2. 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.
      2. Benchmark MS.4 Identify and describe the actions of how citizens act for the common good.
      3. Benchmark MS.5 Describe the responsibility students have to act in the civil society sector to improve the common good.