Good to Grow (Grade 3)

3, 4, 5

Students respond to a fiction story and identify acts of service and kindness (philanthropy). They learn about plants and grow and donate plants to others.

PrintOne 45-minute class period, plus time for growing and donating flowering plants

The learner will:

  • respond to a literature story.
  • identify characters in a story who did acts of service (philanthropy).
  • discover or review the parts of a flower and observe its life cycle.
  • experience service by growing flowers and then donating them to individuals of their choice.
  • read-aloud copy of Chicken Sunday by by Patricia Polacco
  • potting soil or compressed soil cubes
  • easy-to-grow seeds; marigolds are recommended
  • containers for planting (empty school milk cartons, plastic food/produce containers)
Teacher Preparation 

If using compressed soil cubes, prepare the soil in advance. Prior to class time, add warm water to the compressed soil. It takes several hours to expand and can be left overnight.


Polacco, Patricia. Chicken Sunday. Putnam Juvenile, 1998 ISBN-13: 978-0698116153


  1. Anticipatory Set:

    Ask to students to recall from Martin’s Big Words that one person can make a difference. Ask them if that one person can be a child. Ask them to share stories of "great things" young people have done by sharing their time, talent, or treasure or by taking action for the common good.

  2. Tell the students they will listen to a fiction story about children who make a difference.

  3. Read Chicken Sunday to your class. Facilitate a discussion about the importance of doing kind things for others:

    • List the main characters in the story and identify their character traits (i.e., Patricia, Eula Mae Walker, Mr. Kodinski, Stewart, and Winston).
    • How did they each demonstrate their character traits?
    • What do the children like most about Eula Mae Walker?
    • What conflict occurs with Mr. Kodinski? What solution do the children come up with to help solve the conflict?
    • What kind act do the children want to do for Ms. Walker?
    • What was the conclusion in the book? What lesson does Ms. Walker try to teach the children?
    • What act(s) of service did you see in this book?
  4. In Chicken Sunday, we learned that kind acts can make a great impression on others.Just as the children in the story made colored eggs to demonstrate their kindness, students will grow flowers for donation to show their care for others.

  5. Explain to students that they will grow plants or flowers that will be donated to community organizations.

  6. Review the parts and life cycle of a flower:

    • Flowers begin as seeds. Seeds are small and can survive in various environments due to their hard outer shell. After seeds or bulbs have been planted, they begin to germinate (sprout or grow) under the soil. With water and sunlight,plants develop roots and stems. Stems push through the surface of the soil as they try to reach the sunlight, while roots stay in the ground collecting nutrients that will help the plant to grow. The plant may then blossom or sprout petals and develop a flower. Finally, flowers are pollinated when they receive pollen from another plant or flower. Some flowers are pollinated by bees, birds, or butterflies. Pollination may also take place when the wind blows pollen to another location. Some plants and flowers are able to pollinate themselves. When pollen settles into its new home, a seed is formed and the cycle continues.
  7. Identifying the parts of a flowering plant may help students gain a more complete understanding of its growth process and life cycle.

    • Roots help stabilize plants in the ground. They also absorb water and nutrients necessary for the flower to grow.
    • Stems carry the water and nutrients throughout the flower. They also help hold up its leaves so they can reach toward the sunlight that helps the plant grow.
    • Leaves help make food for the flowers by absorbing sunlight to manufacture food.
    • Petals surround and protect the flower.
  8. Invite students to put concepts into practice by conducting their own service project. By planting flowers, caring for them, and giving them away, students will make a difference in the community by showing others the generosity of young people. Growing and donating flowers is considered service because it demonstrates kindness towards others and appreciation of the environment.

  9. Review the concept of giving and sharing (philanthropy)and ask students to brainstorm people that they have shared with before. Explain to students that they will now practice giving and sharing again by growing flowers and donating them to individuals or a group of their choice.

  10. Give each student one flower pot (paper plates may be placed underneath the pots to prevent soil and water spillage). Allow them to fill their pots halfway with the growing medium or the saturated compressed soil (see Teacher Preparation).

  11. Plant the marigold seeds about 1/8 inch deep. Cover with a light layer of soil. Water the planted seeds so that they are damp, but not soaked. Cover the flower pots with plastic wrap and secure with tape or rubber bands to keep in the moisture. Place the flower pots near a sunny window. The marigold seeds should germinate in 5-14 days. Remove the plastic wrap when most seeds have sprouted two leaves. Check the soil to ensure that it is moist and spray with a water bottle if soil is dry. Do not pour water on the new seedlings, as it can damage the developing root system.Throughout the process, have students keep a journal to document the growth of their flowers.

  12. After your students have grown their flowers, donate them immediately to your chosen recipients. Be sure to take pictures (if appropriate) for lasting memories.

  13. Reflection is a key component of service-learning that adds meaning to the experience. Ask students how they felt about donating their flowers and how they think others felt receiving them. Discuss with students why doing this project was important.

Cross Curriculum 

Students grow flowering plants and donate the plants to individuals of their choice.

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.6 Explain why acting philanthropically is good for the community, state, nation, or world.
  2. Strand PHIL.III Philanthropy and the Individual
    1. Standard PI 01. Reasons for Individual Philanthropy
      1. Benchmark E.1 Describe one reason why a person might give or volunteer.
  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.
    2. Standard VS 03. Providing Service
      1. Benchmark E.1 Provide a needed service.
    3. Standard VS 05. Integrating the Service Experience into Learning
      1. Benchmark E.3 Identify outcomes from the service.