Working Together in the Neighborhood

K, 1, 2

Read aloud and discuss a story to build understanding of personal strengths and cooperative work. The group defines neighbors to include the people they learn and work with, live near, and share the world with.

Lesson Rating 
PrintTwo 30-Minute Sessions

The learner will:

  • identify the benefits of working cooperatively with others.
  • discuss and define who his/her neighbors truly are.
  • identify an issue in the neighborhood that can be addressed to benefit the common good.
  • chart paper
  • white drawing paper for each child
  • read-aloud copy of the book The Seven Chinese Brothers by Margaret Mahy
  • common good: working together with other members for the greater benefit of all; promotes the welfare of the community

  • neighborhood: a number of persons living close to one another, or in such a way that they create a shared community; includes people we learn and work with, live near, and share the world with

  • cooperation: working together to benefit a group


Ask the children to think about how they could share their drawings to encourage others to think about taking action for the benefit of the neighborhood.


Mahy, Margaret. The Seven Chinese Brothers. Scholastic, 1992. ISBN: 978-0590420570


  1. Anticipatory Set:

    Show children the cover of the book The Seven Chinese Brothers. Tell the class that this is an old tall tale from China. Tell children what a tall tale is (uses exaggeration to make a point). Use a large world map to indicate where China is located. Emphasize that it is on the continent of Asia. The story is about brothers who work together and each share an amazing gift to do something for the common good (define common good).

  2. Tell children that the story takes place during the reign of the powerful Emperor Ch’in Shih Huang, (pronounced chin-shir-hwäng) between the years of 259-210 B.C. Explain briefly how long ago in the past this is. This emperor was responsible for having the Great Wall of China built. Building the wall was dangerous work that affected thousands of workers. In this story, seven talented brothers attempt to help the suffering workers.

  3. Read The Seven Chinese Brothers aloud. This story is about seven brothers who look alike, but each has his own special power. When one brother disagrees with the emperor he is sentenced to death. Before the emperor can cut off his head, a brother, who has bones of iron, takes his place. When the brother survives, the emperor then tries drowning and burning him, but each time a different brother uses his special talent and foils his scheme. During reading, ask children to identify the tall tale elements of the story (ears that hear a fly sneeze from a hundred miles away, bones like iron, etc.).

  4. After reading, discuss why the brothers chose to help the workers with the wall. Refer to common good in the discussion.

  5. Ask:

    • Do you think the brothers would help again, or was the cost of helping too great?
    • In this story, the brothers worked well together. Each talent alone was great, but in the story, none of them could have survived without the talents of the others. Discuss this and ask: What is a time we all worked together as a group that helped us all or others?
    • Are we neighbors in this group? Who else can we call a neighbor? (Neighbors may include the people we learn and work with, live near, and share the world with.)
    • Can someone in a far-away country be a neighbor? How?
  6. Give children drawing paper (one for each). Tell them to think about something they would like to improve in their neighborhood (may include global neighborhood). Have them draw themselves working with others to make the neighborhood a better place. They may draw themselves with tall-tale talents that will help them make that part of the neighborhood better (lungs like a vacuum that suck up all the pollution and clean it before they exhale).

Philanthropy Framework

  1. Strand PHIL.II Philanthropy and Civil Society
    1. Standard PCS 07. Skills of Civic Engagement
      1. Benchmark E.2 Discuss an issue affecting the common good in the classroom or school and demonstrate respect and courtesy for differing opinions.
  2. Strand PHIL.III Philanthropy and the Individual
    1. Standard PI 01. Reasons for Individual Philanthropy
      1. Benchmark E.4 Give an example of how citizens act for the common good.
      2. Benchmark E.5 Give examples of actions students can take to improve the common good and list or describe responsibilities that go with those actions.
  3. Strand PHIL.IV Volunteering and Service
    1. Standard VS 01. Needs Assessment
      1. Benchmark E.1 Identify a need in the school, local community, state, nation, or world.