Doodle Stones

K, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12
Keywords & Concepts: 

Learners use words to communicate positively and build community. A service project involves writing positive messages on stones and placing them strategically to uplift and beautify.

PrintOne 50-Minute Session

The learners will:

  • define philanthropy. 
  • create written messages to build a more inclusive and uplifting school climate. 
  • copy of the PowerPoint slide show to facilitate this lesson (below)
  • stones, paint, and markers for the stone decorating
Teacher Preparation 

The stones may be painted with spray paint in advance, if desired.


  1. Adapt this one-period lesson plan for any grade level and follow it with a simple and powerful service project

  2. Anticipatory Set: (10 minutes)

    Write on the board, “What is philanthropy?” Ask learners to say the word. Break it down into three chunks: phil-an-thropy. Assign a chunk to each third of the group, and point to the groups to have them say their chunk of the word in order.  Have fun saying it in the correct order and mixed up order. 

  3. Show this one-minute video, “What Is Philanthropy?” 
    ●    Together describe philanthropy in their own words. 

  4. Part One: (15 minutes)

    Learners come up with ideas for ways to “take action for the common good.” 

    • Pose this question: What are some things we can say to others to bring a smile to their faces, help them when they are struggling with a problem, or make the classroom a cooperative place? 
    • Tell the learners you will pass a medium-size stone around the room. Explain that they may only speak when they are holding the stone. The others will show respect by listening to the speaker.  
    • As an example, hold the stone and say something like. “You are worth my time.” Pass the stone around the circle. Each learner adds an idea (e.g., “Will you play with me?" "Everyone gets a turn." "You can do it.”) and passes on the stone. (Someone should take notes.)
  5. Reflect on how it makes them feel to say or hear these words.

  6. They will write encouraging messages like these on stones to be placed around the community to spread a spirit of positive action for the common good. 

    • The name of their project is "Doodle Stones," and STONES stands for Sharing Thoughtful, Optimistic Notes of Encouragement Successfully. Go over each word and discuss. Teach the term acronym.
  7. Part Two: (10 minutes) 
    Written or spoken word can be a powerful instrument of change. Give examples from history or literature, such as the Declaration of Independence, speeches by Martin Luther King, Jr., or the words of characters in a book, like The Lorax.

  8. Share the following quotes and discuss how words can move people to have courage, do the right thing, or act for the common good. 

    • “Whatever the problem, be a part of the solution.” ― Tina Fey
    • “In a world where you can be anything, be kind.” - unknown
    • “Be the change you want to see in the world.” ― Gandhi
    • “The best way to not feel hopeless is to get up and do something. Don’t wait for good things to happen to you. If you go out and make some good things happen, you will fill the world with hope, you will fill yourself with hope.” ― Barack Obama
    • “Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better. It’s not.” – The Lorax
  9. Service Project - The learners decorate a stone with a positive quote or encouraging word and place it for others to find and get encouragement from.

    • Collect stones that have a flat area that can easily be written on. You may spray paint the stones with various bright colors first or simply use permanent markers. 
    • Action: Decorate and place the stones in strategic places where the words may be helpful. 
  10. Variations

    • Film learners saying an encouraging word or sentence. Examples: Smile, Be brave, Never give up, Always do your best, etc.
    • Discuss a "sense of place" when finding stones. Extend the geography component by printing a unique Facebook page or #doodlestones hashtag on the back of the stone where finders can track where the positive stone travels. 

Philanthropy Framework

  1. Strand PHIL.I Definitions of Philanthropy
    1. Standard DP 01. Define Philanthropy
      1. Benchmark MS.1 Define philanthropy as individuals and organizations providing their time, talent, and/or treasures intended for the common good throughout history and around the world. Give examples.
      2. Benchmark HS.1 Define philanthropy to include giving and sharing; volunteering; and private individual action intended for the common good. Explain how a volunteer individual/group can act for the common good.
      3. Benchmark MS.4 Give examples of how individuals have helped others.
      4. Benchmark E.1 Define philanthropy as the giving and sharing of time, talent, or treasure intended for the common good.
  2. Strand PHIL.II Philanthropy and Civil Society
    1. Standard PCS 01. Self, citizenship, and society
      1. Benchmark MS.5 Identify historic examples of citizens using civil society organizations to petition the government.