Caring About Others (Introduction Grade 6-8)

6, 7, 8

In this lesson, students discover and discuss the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and especially focus on his ethic of service.

PrintOne 30 minute class period

The learner will:

  • define service.
  • recognize the vocabulary words in context.
  • explore and discuss the life of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and his commitment to service.


  • I Have A Dream by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
  • Meet Martin Luther King, Jr. by James T. de Kay
  • Who Was Martin Luther King, Jr.? by Bonnie Bader
Teacher Preparation 

If the books listed in Materials are not available, go to one or more of these websites and share the online information with the students or download and print the information for students to read. (As with all websites, preview each site before showing to students to avoid unexpected content or pop-ups.)

The King Center, listen to the short audio recording of Dr. King's speech about service  "The Drum Major Instinct"   -

Learning to Give paper about Dr. King - /resources/king-martin-luther-jr

Noble Peace Prize website, Biography of Dr. King -

History Channel -


service: to provide a community or organization with something that it needs

donate: to give or present something, especially to a charitable organization or other good cause


Make a bulletin board for the school hallway where you describe the class service project and post comments and feedback from the students’ Grow Involved service. Post any feedback sent to the students from the people they serve or community organizations they work with. Have the students answer the following question in writing: What act of service did you do and how did you feel about your contribution? Then have them each write their personal response neatly for display.



  • I Have A Dream by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Scholastic Press; 1 edition (November 1, 1997), ISBN-10: 0590205161, ISBN-13: 978-0590205160 
  • Meet Martin Luther King, Jr. by James T. de Kay
  • Who Was Martin Luther King, Jr? by Bonnie Bader


  1. Anticipatory Set:

    Ask the students what they know about Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. List their responses on a display area. Congratulate the students on their knowledge. Tell them that they will be learning more about Dr. King, in particular learning about his views on service and volunteerism.

  2. Explainthat Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was a man who committed his life to service. Tell students that service can be described as giving time, talent and/or treasure and taking action for the sake of another or for the common good. People who give in this way are called philanthropists. Ask students to think about and share times when they helped others without expecting anything in return. Ask how it felt to help others and what teh impact of their service was.

  3. Group the students and give each group print information about Dr. King (specific pages in one of the recommended books or teacher prepared information - see the Materials and Teacher Preparation sections of this lesson). Have each group read and prepare a summary about Dr. King, paying special attention to examples of his words about service.

  4. Ask each group to report to the class, summarizing the information they discovered.

  5. Hold a class discussion. Ask:

    • How did Martin Luther King’s teachings influence others?
    • What can you learn from Dr. King’s example?
  6. Write this quote by Dr. King in a display area, “Everyone can be great because everyone can serve.”

  7. Ask the students to volunteer verbal responses to the quotes or write a paragraph answering the questions: What does this mean to you? How can you attempt to spread his message of service and continue the work that he has done - his legacy?

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 MS.4 Give examples of how individuals have helped others.
  2. Strand PHIL.II Philanthropy and Civil Society
    1. Standard PCS 01. Self, citizenship, and society
      1. Benchmark MS.2 Discuss why some animals and humans will sacrifice for the benefit of unknown others.
      2. Benchmark MS.4 Describe the characteristics of someone who helps others.
    2. Standard PCS 02. Diverse Cultures
      1. Benchmark MS.5 Discuss examples of groups denied their rights in history.
    3. Standard PCS 06. Philanthropy in History
      1. Benchmark MS.2 Give an example of individual philanthropic action that influenced the nation's history.
      2. Benchmark MS.3 Describe important events in the growth and maturation of the civil-society sector in the nation.
      3. Benchmark MS.5 Identify positive philanthropic historic acts or events that helped build the community, state, and nation.
  3. Strand PHIL.III Philanthropy and the Individual
    1. Standard PI 01. Reasons for Individual Philanthropy
      1. Benchmark MS.10 Identify reasons why historic figures acted for the common good.
      2. Benchmark MS.4 Identify and describe the actions of how citizens act for the common good.