Make a Difference to One

6, 7, 8

Learners reflect on simple doable actions that can make a difference to at least one person, and maybe make a bigger difference as the kindness is passed on.

PrintOne 20-minute class period

The learner will:

  • define pro-social behavior.
  • write a specific plan for carrying out an act of caring that will "make a difference for one."

character education journal


Acts of

Amnesty International "Look Beyond Borders"


  1. Anticipatory Set:

    Greet each student by name and smile genuinely at each student as he or she enters the room. When they are seated, tell them that you want them to practice a very simple act of caring by greeting one other student by name while looking them right in the eyes. (You may pair students up to make sure each person is greeted personally and not bysomeone they are typically interacting with.)

  2. Put the following quote on the board: "Be kind; it is hardly ever the wrong thing to do." Tell the students that kind acts are examples of pro-social behavior [acting in ways that benefit others] because they promote the well-being of society.

    Show this five-minute video by Amnesty International. This illustrates the power of empathy by looking into someone's eyes.

  3. Ask the students to think about how the simple kindness of politeness, smiles, and personal greetings could make a difference to one person and unknown others. What are the possible effects of one kind act?  

    This may lead to a discussion of paying it forward, or serial reciprocity [when one person gives to another, by means of time, talent or treasure, and causes a continual chain of giving to occur in a linear pattern].

  4. Have the students read over the journal entries and brainstormed charts from this Caring unit. They have listed several issues and ideas for acts of kindness.

  5. Tell students to choose one small idea for an action they can take to "make a difference to that one" (as in the starfish story). Have each student write a specific plan in his or her journal. Then challenge the students to carry out their plan and observe its effects.

Philanthropy Framework

  1. Strand PHIL.I Definitions of Philanthropy
    1. Standard DP 01. Define Philanthropy
      1. Benchmark MS.4 Give examples of how individuals have helped others.
  2. 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.
  3. Strand PHIL.III Philanthropy and the Individual
    1. Standard PI 01. Reasons for Individual Philanthropy
      1. Benchmark MS.2 Explain and give examples of enlightened self-interest, egoism, and altruism as they relate to philanthropy.
      2. Benchmark MS.9 Identify pro-social behavior in different cultures and traditions.
  4. 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.