Defining Caring

6, 7, 8

We investigate and expand our understanding of caring and determine things or people we care about.

Lesson Rating 
PrintOne 20-minute session

The learner will:

  • define caring and ways that people demonstrate caring.
  • relate altruism, empathy and selflessness to caring.
  • list five things or people they care about.
Home Connection 

Discuss five things or people that they care about with friends and family.


  1. Anticipatory Set:

    In the previous lesson, we identified the giraffe heroes as people who care. Discuss a couple examples of how these young people showed their caring (by giving, sharing, writing letters). Then ask what these young people might have felt for the people or issues they cared for (concern, sympathy, desire to help, etc.).

  2. Brainstorm as many words as the group can think of that are synonyms for care or caring or are ways that people demonstrate caring.

    It may be helpful to think about "How do we care?" Example: Words like love, sympathy, concern, compassion, worry, concern, confrontation, etc. Write the words in a display area. (Note: Save these words for use in Lesson Three.)

  3. If the words altruism, empathy, and selflessness have not already been suggested by the learners, introduce and define the words as additional ways of caring:

  4. Altruism: selfless concern for the welfare of others

    Empathy: identification with and understanding of the feelings of another person

    Selflessness: putting others' needs before one's own

  5. Save these words in the display area also.

  6. Ask learners to list in their journals five things or people (either individuals or groups) that they would "stick their necks out" for or that they "care" about (not necessarily in order of priority). They may add notes about what those people or groups care about or would appreciate. 

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.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.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.
    2. Standard VS 02. Service and Learning
      1. Benchmark MS.1 Select a service project based on interests, abilities and research.