Animals Matter (Grade 1)

K, 1, 2

The students listen and respond to a story about caring and philanthropy related to environmental stewardship and animal welfare.


Lesson Rating 
PrintOne 45 minute class period

The learners will:

  • listen to and respond tothe literature book A Symphony of Whales.
  • define service.
  • brainstorm things kids can do
  • read aloud copy of A Symphony of Whales by Steven Schuch
 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
gift: something that you give without the expectation of receiving something in return
Students who enjoy language arts may wish to create a book of poetry and photographs about animals in the shelter where the class donated the pet bandanas.

Schuch, Steven. A Symphony of Whales. Sandpiper, 2002. 978-0152165482


  1. Anticipatory Set:

    Ask the students if they remember the "big word" philanthropy and what it means.

    Tell the students that you have another "big word" for them to learn. Write the word "beluga" on a display board, say the word, and ask the students to repeat it. Ask: Does any one know what a "beluga" is? Allow students to volunteer their ideas. If a students don't suggest that a beluga is a kind of whale, tell the students and then give them the following background information about beluga whales: also known as a white whale because of its white color, lives in the Arctic Ocean (show on a map), sometimes called a Sea Canary Whale because of its high-pitched song, grows up to 16 feet long, in some areas they are considered endangered.

  2. Write the word endangered on chart paper or the display board. Tell the students that animals are considered endangered when a species or group of living thingsis 'in danger' of dying out. This usually happens when their environment changes and they are not able to get the basic things they need to stay alive -- food, clean water, and a clean habitat (place to live).In some places, beluga whales are in danger of dying because people have changed their habitats.

  3. Tell the students that they are going to listen to a book called A Symphony of Whales, which is a story based on something that really happened. Show the cover of the book and ask if they know what a symphony is. Explain that it is a kind of musical piece. Ask them to think about why the author used this title as they listen to the story.

  4. Read the story aloud, checking for understanding.

  5. During and after the reading, ask the following questions:

    • What did Glashka hear inside her head?
    • How was the sea important to the people in Glashka's village?
    • How did the people decide to help the whales? What was the outcome?
    • In what ways have you helped animals or others?
    • Why is it important to help animals or others?
  6. Explain to the children that they will now practice giving and sharing that involves animals. Tell them that service can include giving their time or treasure to help the community. In this case, the community is the natural world, and we all share responsibility for caretaking.

  7. Braintorm things we can do as young people to take action for whales or other animals who need caretaking.

    • Direct action:  example is clean up pollution that affects animals' homes
    • Indirect action: example is to raise money to give to a nonprofit organization that helps whales
    • Advocacy:  example is to teach other people about the issue or about ways to protect animals
  8. Reflection is a key component of service-learning that adds meaning to the experience. Discuss with students why doing this project was important.

Cross Curriculum 

Students decorate petbandanas with words and/or designs of their choice. They decide on an animal shelter to which they donate the bandanas.

Philanthropy Framework

  1. Strand PHIL.I Definitions of Philanthropy
    1. 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. Standard DP 04. Operational Characteristics of Nonprofit Organizations
      1. Benchmark E.1 Describe how citizens organize in response to a need.
  2. Strand PHIL.II Philanthropy and Civil Society
    1. Standard PCS 01. Self, citizenship, and society
      1. Benchmark E.3 Describe a benefit of group cooperation.
    2. Standard PCS 02. Diverse Cultures
      1. Benchmark E.3 Identify the similarities in philanthropic behavior among people of different cultural backgrounds.
      2. Benchmark E.4 Demonstrate listening skills.
  3. 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.
      2. Benchmark E.4 Give an example of how citizens act for the common good.
      3. Benchmark E.9 Give examples how people give time, talent or treasure in different cultures.
  4. Strand PHIL.IV Volunteering and Service
    1. Standard VS 03. Providing Service
      1. Benchmark E.1 Provide a needed service.
    2. Standard VS 05. Integrating the Service Experience into Learning
      1. Benchmark E.3 Identify outcomes from the service.