Growing Up

3, 4, 5

This lesson will define and give examples of terms related to philanthropy and the common good. Learners will examine events that led to the development of philanthropic organizations prior to 1763.

Lesson Rating 
PrintThree Forty-Five Minute Class Periods

The learner will:

  • define philanthropy as the giving of a person's time, talent and/or treasure for others and taking action for the common good.
  • define common good as citizens taking action for the benefit of all.
  • define nonprofit/independent sector as organizations which are not part of the government and are not private businesses.
  • describe three organizations in colonial times that grew as a result of critical changes in American society.
  • develop a timeline that links events and philanthropic organizations during colonial times.
  • Job Titles (see Handout One)
  • Nonprofit/Independent Sector in America Prior to 1763 (see Handout Two)
  • Learner copies of Researching Organizations (see Handout Three)
  • Timelines (see Handout Four)
  • Labeled index cards / sticky notes inside envelopes
  • Pictures depicting colonial society/times
  • Textbooks, encyclopedias or Internet access for tracing events prior to 1763
Home Connection 

Interactive Parent / Learner Homework:Essay: "Why were organizations needed to help during colonial times?"


  1. Anticipatory Set:

    Write the words," paid" and "unpaid" on the chalkboard or butcher paper. As learners enter the classroom, pass out sealed envelopes that contain a 3x5-index card or sticky note folded with a job title. Some of the jobs you may wish to list could include dishwasher, firefighter, teacher, librarian, messenger, police officer or watch duty, cook, gardener, etc. (Handout One).

    Teacher Note: Adapt this list as appropriate, deleting or adding some of your own titles. However, be sure to have a different job for each learner.

    Tell the learners to wait to open the envelopes until instructed by you.

    Day One:

  2. Direct learners to words paid / unpaid on the chalkboard or paper. Ask learners to define the terms and give examples of jobs in each category. Discuss the importance of jobs people do where they don’t get paid. Allow two to three minutes for learner comments. Write notes from the discussion on the board or paper.

  3. Tell the learners to open their envelopes. Instruct learners to decide where their "jobs" should be placed on the display. Direct groups of no more than three or four learners to go the board or paper prepared earlier to post their "job" card. After all the cards have been posted, divide the learners into groups of three or four for a three to five minute discussion regarding paid versus unpaid "jobs".

  4. Refer to the pictures of colonial society. Develop an understanding for the conditions under which people lived and worked together. Say, "The colonial period was from 1564-1763. As you can tell from the pictures, many of the conveniences that we have were not available then. However, people were able to survive and do for others as volunteers giving of their time, talent, or treasure. Giving of a person's time, talent or treasure is known as philanthropy. They contributed to the common good when citizens acted to put something in place for the benefit of all." (See Make sure learners understand the vocabulary terms. Ask learners how philanthropy to enhance the common good is of any benefit to the community, state, or nation. Ask for examples to reinforce their points of view.

  5. Tell learners that they will be working in small groups. Stress the importance of employing good listening skills. Explain that each group is to discuss the jobs that were posted on the display and decide which were needed in colonial times. Circulate in the room to monitor the discussions.

  6. At the end of discussion time, ask, "Did you hear a comment about a job that may have caused you to change your mind about its category? Why? Would you add any jobs to the list?"

  7. Explain to the learners that in colonial society not all "jobs" were done for pay, just as occurs in a family (establish the "family" connection). Go on to develop the need in society for the independent sector. The independent sector includes all organizations which are not part of the government and are not private businesses. They are important because they provide those services which cannot be done or are not done by the government or business. (See or reference in Bibliographical Reference to access information for definitions.)

  8. Day Two:

  9. Explain to the learners that there were formal organizations that existed in the independent sector before 1763. Use Nonprofit/Independent Sector in America Prior to 1763 (Handout Two) to give learners an idea of the types of organizations that were created. (Note: It is not necessary to share all the information with learners. Use it as a Teacher Reference.) Allow no more than two minutes to go over the information. Ask the learners if any of them have heard about the organizations listed. If yes, ask what they know and where they have heard it before. Again, two to three minutes are sufficient for this discussion.

  10. Arrangelearners into teams of two. Inform learners that research will be needed to uncover historic events which may have tied various organizations together during colonial times. Instruct learners that they will be responsible for taking notes which should include:

    • the event
    • the name of the organization
    • reason why the organization grew.
  11. Distribute Researching Organizations (Handout Three). Allow the rest of the period to be used for research. Provide learners with Web site, and (Demonstrate how to access the timeline from the Learning to Give Web site so that learners can expand research if they wish.) Resource material may also be made available within the classroom. At the close of the class period, collect Researching Organizations (Handout Three).

  12. As the teacher, summarize and make copies of the information from Researching Organizations (Handout Three) to be passed out the next day of the lesson.

  13. Day Three:

  14. Ask if any of the information that was gathered the previous day was different or interesting. Allow five minutes for this discussion. Pass out summarized copies of Researching Organizations (Handout Three) and review the information with the learners. Review the meaning of independent sector and analyze whether each organization listed on the summary sheet is in the government, business or independent sector.

  15. Explain that the learners will be constructing timelines. Review timelines, if this has been taught previously, or introduce the components of timelines. Demonstrate variations of timelines, using something with which the learners can relate, e.g., birth to present grade level or use the timelines on

  16. Emphasize that individual timelines should be used to organize the information that has been provided to date. It, too, can be used to expand the knowledge obtained while placing data about dates, organizations, reasons for development, and events that sparked the idea in an easier to understand format.

  17. Provide learners with Timelines (Handout Four) to transform the information into a timeline. Explain the rubric for scoring before the learners begin working.

  18. Discuss with the learners the importance of all the organizations they have discovered. Explain that some were abandoned because the need was no longer there. Collect Timelines (Handout Four).

  19. Tell the learners that they are going to write an essay entitled, "Why were organizations needed to help during colonial times?" for a homework assignment. It should not be any longer than three paragraphs. Explain that the tools to be used will consist of the notes they collected or researched and any attachments that they may have. They may also discuss the topic with a parent or guardian for additional viewpoints. Expand the assignment by telling them that they should convey their own personal viewpoint (thoughts) about two organizations, reasons for their existence, its present name, and what each offered to tie it to the common good. (Use the rubrics as your assessment tool.) Go over the rubric with the learners so they will understand how the paragraphs will be scored.


Rubric for Timeline:

4 Points

Includes 3 events covering the period before 1763 plus organizations

Describes two organizations, provides reason for need, present name if still in existence, and its significance to the common good.

3 Points

Includes 2 events covering the period before 1763 plus organizations 

Establishes own P.O.V. Describes one organi-zation, provides reason for need, and either presents name if still in existence, or its significance to the common good.

2 Points

Includes 3 events covering the period before 1763 without organizations 

Describes two organi-zations, provides reason for need. 

1 Point

Includes 2 events covering the period before 1763 without organizations 

Describes two organi-zations, without any additional information.

0 Points

Timeline with disengaged events and organizations

Lack of formatted response

Philanthropy Framework

  1. Strand PHIL.I Definitions of Philanthropy
    1. Standard DP 01. Define Philanthropy
      1. Benchmark E.1 Define philanthropy as the giving and sharing of time, talent, or treasure intended for the common good.
    2. Standard DP 02. Roles of Government, Business, and Philanthropy
      1. Benchmark E.6 Explain why acting philanthropically is good for the community, state, nation, or world.
  2. Strand PHIL.II Philanthropy and Civil Society
    1. Standard PCS 06. Philanthropy in History
      1. Benchmark E.3 Describe important events in the growth and maturation of the civil society sector in the nation.
      2. Benchmark E.5 Identify positive philanthropic historic acts or events that helped build the community, state, and nation.
      3. Benchmark E.6 Trace the historic roots of philanthropy in the nation's history.