Courage Comes In All Sizes (3rd Grade)

3, 4, 5

Using poetry, this lesson explores the attributes of a hero and the philanthropic acts that are achieved in spite of adversity, for the common good of all humankind.

Lesson Rating 
PrintOne 45 minute class period

The learner will:

  • review the characteristics of a hero and relate them to citizenship for the common good.
  • explain why acting philanthropically is good for the individual and community.
  • identify the relationship of individual rights and community responsibility.
  • identify community as the degree that people come together for the common good.
  • in cooperate groups, create a cinquain poem about philanthropy and heroes.
  • The Children’s Book of Heroes (see Bibliographical References)
  • Handout One: Everyday Heroes, A Cinquain Poem
  • Handout Two: Cinquain Poetry Rubric
  • Writing materials, one per student

 Write the word hero on your paper. Decorate the letters with images that show what the word can mean as it relates to giving and kindness.


Bennett William, The Children’s Book of Heroes.  Simon & Schuster, 1997. ISBN: 0-684-83445-6


  1. Anticipatory Set: Teacher Note: Please review the poem, “Our Heroes.” The author chose to use language associated with a battlefield. It is imperative to discuss the role of figurative language with the students and to remind them that most problems are not solved with guns but words. The virtuous hero wins the fight not with the use of force but through perseverance and self-control. By showing compassion and concern for others, one shows him/herself as a strong person of integrity and a true philanthropist.

    Teacher will say, “Let’s review the definition of philanthropy and common good. Today, we are going to read poetry and in groups you are going to create your own poems.” Remind students that it is the actions people that make an impact in the community and the world. After allowing discussion, tell students to listen closely as you slowly read aloud the poem, “Our Heroes,” found on page 44 of the book The Children’s Book of Heroes (see Bibliographical References). Lead the discussion by asking for volunteers to tell the meaning in their own words, line by line, stanza by stanza as you clarify any unfamiliar words. Guide the students to the conclusion that it takes one person to step out from the crowd, take on the responsibility of standing up for what is right even in the face of danger.

  2. Have students brainstorm examples of people who have stood up for others, including themselves, family, friends and famous names, and then hold a discussion about courageous actions. Ask students to compare the actions of a hero and a philanthropist and describe the connection. Discuss how one can act in one’s best interest, but at the same time do something good for the community.

  3. Place students in groups of four and have them select someone discussed during the brainstorming. Using Handout One, discuss how to create a cinquain poem.

  4. Working cooperatively, the students will use the format used in Handout One to create a cinquain poem about someone who is a hero to them.

Cross Curriculum 

Students share their philanthropy poems in creative ways to reach a wide audience.

Philanthropy Framework

  1. Strand PHIL.I Definitions of Philanthropy
    1. Standard DP 01. Define Philanthropy
      1. Benchmark E.3 Recognize that citizens have a responsibility for the common good as defined by democratic principles.
    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 02. Diverse Cultures
      1. Benchmark E.5 Identify the relationship between individual rights and community responsibility.
    2. Standard PCS 05. Philanthropy and Government
      1. Benchmark E.1 Define community as the degree that people come together for the common good.
      2. Benchmark E.9 Describe how philanthropic activities can bring about social change.
  3. Strand PHIL.III Philanthropy and the Individual
    1. Standard PI 01. Reasons for Individual Philanthropy
      1. Benchmark E.2 Identify why people practice philanthropy related to their own self-interest.