Small Actions with Big Purpose

6, 7, 8

Learners use a decision-making model to identify the issues they feel most concerned about. With those in mind, they explore how perseverance and doing their personal best are more effective ways to address needs than looking at the short term.

PrintOne 20-minute Class Period

The learner will:

  • identify issues they care about and discuss ways to take action to make a difference.
  • twelve sheets of printer paper with one "issue" written on each one
  • markers or small sticky dots (two per learner)
Teacher Preparation 

In advance, prepare signs to place around the room. Write the following issues (one issue in large print on each paper): Hunger, Animal Welfare, Safe Places for Kids, Homelessness, Drug or Alcohol Abuse, Endangered Animals, Natural Disasters, Health Concerns, Civil Rights, Education, Global Warming, Environmental Concerns.

Write the following directions: "Read the twelve different issues concerning our community around the room. Identify the two issues that you feel most concerned about. Put a dot on the pages of two issues you would like to help address."


  1. Anticipatory Set:

    Learners read the directions and walk by the twelve signs posted around the room and mark two issue areas they care about.

  2. As they finish selecting their issues, they sit down and look around at the issues selected by the group indicated by the dots on the signs. Discuss what they observe.

    • What are some of the most selected issues of concern?
    • Why didn't everybody choose the same issues?
    • How do our personal interests motivate us to address a need for the common good?
  3. Discuss how perseverance can help a few people do something about big issues. Lead them to recognize that they can focus on a small area and persevere to make a difference in long-term goals (like water drops forming the Grand Canyon).

    Discuss how the group could persevere to overcome obstacles and address one or more of these issues.

  4. Have the group choose an issue to focus on based on the issues with the most dots on the signs. Discuss how they can address the issues locally using their time, talent, and resources and their personal best efforts. Discuss what doing personal best in these efforts would look like.

Philanthropy Framework

  1. Strand PHIL.III Philanthropy and the Individual
    1. Standard PI 01. Reasons for Individual Philanthropy
      1. Benchmark MS.1 Define and give examples of the motivations for giving and serving.
  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.
    2. Standard VS 02. Service and Learning
      1. Benchmark MS.1 Select a service project based on interests, abilities and research.
    3. Standard VS 03. Providing Service
      1. Benchmark MS.4 Demonstrate the skills needed for the successful performance of the volunteer job.