Good Citizenship and Philanthropy

3, 4, 5

A picture book provides a discussion starter about ways we work together to address big issues. 


Lesson Rating 
PrintOne 45-Minute Session

The learner will:

  • identify acts of responsible citizenship in different scenarios.
  • identify elements of a community project over time.
  • read aloud copy of A River Ran Wild by Lynne Cherry.
  • copies of A River Ran Wild handout 
  • copies of What Would You Do? handout
Teacher Preparation 

Story summary: The setting of this story is the Nashua River. As the decades pass, the reader sees how the river changes from a peaceful clean river to a polluted river. Changes occur along the banks of the river—some good and some bad. The reader can compare the changing river from decade to decade, pointing out citizen involvement that helps restore the river in the end. As a suggestion, read the first several pages as a whole class. Guide the discussion emphasizing good citizenship qualities and ones that need improving. (Pre-read before reading with children.)





Cherry, Lynne.  A River Ran Wild: An Environmental History. San Diego: Harcourt Brace & Company, 1992.  ISBN: 0152005420.


  1. Anticipatory Set:

    Our own identity and thinking about what makes a better world guide our decisions about acting generously. Discuss what it means to act for the good of all through the options posed in the "What Would You Do?" handout.

  2. Read aloud A River Ran Wild. Learners may complete the A River Ran Wild Guide handout to trace the history of the river issues and cleanup. Discuss the needs in the communities surrounding the Nashua River as it changed over time and the actions that were taken to restore the river. 

  3. Define philanthropy as giving time, talent, or treasure and taking action for the common good. Discuss the concept of philanthropy in a community, like around the river community. What are some needs in our own communities that we can address?

Cross Curriculum 

Students conduct a needs assessment and make a plan to address a small need.

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. Standard DP 02. Roles of Government, Business, and Philanthropy
      1. Benchmark E.1 Give examples of needs met by government, business, civil society, and family.
    3. Standard DP 04. Operational Characteristics of Nonprofit Organizations
      1. Benchmark E.1 Describe how citizens organize in response to a need.