Giving from the Heart

K, 1, 2

Through performing a short play based on the book Quiltmaker’s Gift, the students will understand the idea of using the Arts to do something for the common good.

PrintOne Forty-Five Minute Class Period and performance time

The learner will:

  • be introduced to the concept of a theatrical play.
  • participate in the Quiltmaker’s Gift roleplay.
  • define philanthropy as giving of time, talent and/or treasure.
  • define common good as doing something that helps everyone even if it is difficult.
  • work as a team member.
  • Quiltmaker’s Gift by Jeff Brumbeau and Gail DeMarcken (see Bibliographical Reference)
  • Quilts or blankets
  • Crown and robe for the King’s costume
  • A chair (resembling a throne if possible)

Have the students share what they know about quilts (e.g. they are warm, soft, cuddly, usually made out of pieces of materials sewn together, etc)  as you provide the students with 4 ¼” by 5 ½” sheet of paper-- an 8 ½” x 11” sheet of paper cut in half.  Tell the students that they will be helping to make a “quilt” and that each person will contribute one piece to be added to the quilt. Have each student draw a picture of what they did during the event activity using crayons or markers.  When they have completed their drawings have them take turns bringing their “quilt piece” to you and telling the class about their drawing which will then be added to the “quilt.”  Display the “quilt” as it is being sewn together to form a “Caring Blanket.” When everyone has contributed their piece to the blanket, ask the students how their “Caring Blanket” may have made someone feel warm inside.

  • Brumbeau, Jeff.  Quiltmaker’s Gift.  New York: Scholastic, Inc., 2001.  ISBN: 0439309107.
  • International Child Art Foundation. accessed 1.21.2011


  1. Anticipatory Set:

    Ask students if they know what a play is. Allow time for thinking and response. Tell them that a theatrical play means to act or perform words that have already been thought of by someone other than the people that are talking. The people speaking are pretending to be someone else. Ask if students have ever seen a play before. Tell them that television shows (Blue’s Clues, Sesame Street or Barney) are similar to plays. The characters in television shows are acting out what someone else has written. Tell students that they are now going to hear a book about a kind woman. Then after they have heard the book, they are going to use it to create a play of our own.

  2. Introduce Quiltmaker’s Gift (See Bibliographic Reference). Complete “a picture walk” (telling the story by looking at the pictures) through the book with the students and make predictions as to what they believe will happen in the book. Begin reading the book. Pause to ask students questions such as: Why do you think the lady made quilts for the people? How did the people feel when they received a quilt? How do you think the lady felt about the King? Why did the King want a quilt so badly? How did he feel when he received a quilt? How did the lady feel abut the gift she received?

  3. Teacher’s Note: Because of the vast amount of information and very small pictures in this book, it would be a good idea if you previewed the book before introducing it to your students. You may want to just tell them the story if time is an issue.

  4. Remind the students about the word philanthropist. Tell students that someone who gives time, talent or treasure is called a “philanthropist”. Ask them to repeat the word after you say it several times. Ask if they can remember if there was a philanthropist in the story that you just read. (The lady). She gave of her time (to make the quilt), her talent (quilting: a special type of stitching on a blanket that is many different pieces put together) and her treasure (using her own money to purchase supplies).

  5. Introduce the common good. Define it as doing something that helps everyone. Ask students if they remember anyone who did things for the common good in the story. (The lady).

  6. By the end of the story, who did the lady help see the importance of the common good and philanthropy? (the King)

  7. Tell the students that they are going to “act out” the story, as you play the role of the narrator. As you read the words or tell the story, they will do the actions. Have students rotate in the roles of Quiltmaker, King, Sleeping People (who benefit from the quilts). Practice several times asking the students contributing ideas about possible action, dialogue, costumes and props.

  8. Have the students practice the action.

  9. If possible, be philanthropists by performing the play for others students in the school. Have students explain how the play illustrates philanthropy.

Cross Curriculum 

Art from the heart: Celebrate students artistic talents and find a way to share these talents with others. Follow your students’ voices to find an organization or group of people who would appreciate a greeting card or homemade piece of art to brighten their day or let them know someone cares. This may be soldiers, veterans, elderly people in a retirement home, or a local child with a serious illness.

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. Benchmark E.3 Recognize that citizens have a responsibility for the common good as defined by democratic principles.
      3. Benchmark E.4 Define and give examples of selfishness and selflessness.