Adopt a Species!

3, 4, 5

The purpose of this lesson is to help learners identify an animal species in danger of becoming extinct and to involve them in a fund-raising project to "adopt" this endangered species. 

Lesson Rating 
PrintThree-Four Forty-Five Minute Class Periods (Not including the Service Learning Project.)

The learner will:

  • discover the meaning of"philanthropy" and "philanthropic acts."
  • come to realize and understand why "environmental stewardship" is everyone's responsibility.
  • vote to"adopt" an endangered species and participate in fund-raising efforts that will result in a demonstration of environmental stewardship and personal responsibility.
  • reflect on his/her involvement in this philanthropic act of environmental stewardship.
  • Tagboard cut in 2"x 6" strips
  • Markers, glue, glitter, stickers, yarn, etc...
  • Paper Punch
  • Laminator
  • Scissors
  • Posterboard
  • Tape
  • Cash box with change for the fund-raising activity
Home Connection 

Please see Handout One for the Home/School Letter.



  1. Anticipatory Set:

    Begin by expressing appreciation to the learners forthe sharing of their bookswith the other class(-es)-Lesson Two. Encourage the learners to share some of the responses they received from the other students as well as some of their own reflections as to how they thought it was received and if they felt that they met their hoped for outcomes. Tell the learners that now they are well on their way to becoming philanthropists who are concerned about being good stewards of their environment. Write the word philanthropist and the words environmental stewardship on the display board and have the learners share what they might already know about these words. Also write the word philanthropy and philanthropic acts and challenge the learners to share how all these words might be related to each other. (Following this discussion, be sure to make clear to the learners that philanthropy is the giving of ones time, talent, and/or treasure and taking action for the common good, the way that this 'giving' is being done is called a philanthropic act, and the person or persons doing these acts is/are often referred to as philanthropist. Be sure too, that the learners understand that taking care of the environment and all the living things in it is considered good environmental stewardship.) Have the learners reflect on why they might now be considered good environmental stewards andhow by writing and reading their stories to other students in the school they might now also be considered philanthropists. (Wanting to be good stewards of their environment, they not only researched for their own understanding, but they also taught other learners by sharing their writing about endangered animals and what can be done to help the common good (the environment and hopefully avoid the extinction of these various animals.) They also shared their time and talent- in researching and writing their books -to promote awareness - for the sake of the environment/common good.)Explain to learners that philanthropists often also have to raise money to help promote different common good causes and that is what the class will be talking about and doing today.

  2. Write the word "fundraising" on the display board and lead the learners to an understanding that fundraising is raising money to help a cause. Encourage them to share personal experiences and/or awarenesses involving the raising of money for acause.

  3. Tell students that we are going to have a special sale to raise money to "adopt" an endangered species. (Explain that when people adopt children, the children come to live with them, but when wild animals are 'adopted,' those animals need their natural habitat to live in, so we won't really meet or keep the animals, but we will support them and their natural habitats by sending money to those who are responsible for their care. Tell the learners that they will receive a certificate in return that tells them that they have adopted an endangered species!)

  4. Explain that in order to "adopt" an endangered species, funds need to be raised. Explain to the students that they are each going to make bookmarks about endangered animals to sell to other students.

  5. Distribute tag board strips to each child. Distribute materials for students to share and model how to make a bookmark, writing the words: Endangered species - It's Not Too Late! or Help Save the Animals! (Learners should decorate the bookmarks on both sides with pictures, words, stickers, and glitter, and the bookmarks should be laminated when they are finished. A hole-punch to make a hole at the end of the bookmark will allow for a piece of yarn or ribbon --beads may be added to the yarn or ribbon -to be attached. The finished bookmarks should be held in a safe place until the fundraising event.)

  6. Send the Home/School Connection Letter (Handout One) to parents, which explains what the learners have been studying and the service learning project that will involve the class.

  7. Decide on a day and time to fundraise. (Be sure to arrange this event with the necessary school personnel. One idea is to fund-raise for a week during lunch time.)

  8. Organize students into groups to create posters promoting the book mark sale. Model this process to the students, remembering to include Who (Class Name or Room Number), What (Endangered Animal Bookmark Sale) When (Date(s) and Time(s)Where (location) and Why (To "adopt" an endangered species). Also include the price of the bookmarks. Students should illustrate their posters with pictures of endangered animals. Use the Poster Rubric (Handout Two) to assess students' posters.

  9. Have learners display their posters around the school (and community, if desired) the week before the sale begins and request the office to make a reminder announcement about your bookmark sale.

  10. Organize learners into groups to help sell the bookmarks. Discuss appropriate behaviors and what is expected of each learner being sure to make provisions for ample supervision during this fundraising event.

  11. Count the money that was raised in front of the class. Have students help in this process. (See also the "Money Smart Children" Unit found at /units/money-smart-children-3-5.)

  12. Take a class vote for the endangered animal(s) that the class will adopt. Choose from a list of animals located on the web page:

  13. Following the online adoption procedure, distribute certificates to each learner. (Certificates will be emailed to teacher and may be reprinted.)

  14. Conclude this portion of the lesson by having the learners create a journal entry to explain what they learned from the fund-raising project and how it felt to be a good environmental steward by the philanthropic giving of their time, talent and treasures to help promote a common good.


The learner's involvement in the class discussions as well as the successful completion of the Endangered Species Fund-raising Poster based on the Endangered Species Fund raising Poster Rubric (Handout Two) will form the basis for assessment of this lesson. Consideration should also be given to the learner's involvement in the actual fundraising activity as well as his/her journal reflection as a means of assessing the learner's understanding and articulation of the relationship that can and often does exist between philanthropy and environmental stewardship. An alternative reflection could be the writing of a 'newspaper article' entitled "Endangered Speices... It's Not Too late?" covering the who, what, when, where, and why of the fundraising event and animal adoption.

Cross Curriculum 

The learners will work together to raise money to adopt an endangered species from WWF (World Wild Life Organization) by creating and selling bookmarks. The money used to "adopt" the animal will help fight the threats the animal faces such as habitat loss and poaching. The learners will receive an adoption certificate when the adoption is finalized.

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. Strand PHIL.II Philanthropy and Civil Society
    1. Standard PCS 03. Philanthropy and Economics
      1. Benchmark E.5 Recognize the wise use of resources as <i>stewardship</i>.
    2. Standard PCS 07. Skills of Civic Engagement
      1. Benchmark E.3 Participate in acts of democratic citizenship in the classroom or school, such as voting, group problem solving, classroom governance or elections.
  3. Strand PHIL.III Philanthropy and the Individual
    1. Standard PI 01. Reasons for Individual Philanthropy
      1. Benchmark E.3 Define stewardship and give examples.
      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.
  4. Strand PHIL.IV Volunteering and Service
    1. Standard VS 02. Service and Learning
      1. Benchmark E.1 Select a service project based on interests, abilities, and research.
    2. Standard VS 04. Raising Private Resources
      1. Benchmark E.3 Describe a service plan.
    3. Standard VS 05. Integrating the Service Experience into Learning
      1. Benchmark E.1 Describe the process of program evaluation.
      2. Benchmark E.3 Identify outcomes from the service.