Big Words (Introduction Grade K-2)

K, 1, 2

Students learn about caring and sharing through discussion of the book Martin's Big Words. The lesson introduces the "big" word philanthropy (giving time, talent and treasure for the common good). The students discuss ways they have been philanthropic by voluntarily being nice to someone or being helpful.

Lesson Rating 
Printone 30 minute class period

The learner will:

  • respond to a nonfiction literature book.
  • express personal opinions and experiences about caring and sharing.
  • define philanthropy as giving their time, talent, and/or treasure.
  • read aloud copy of Martin’s Big Words by Doreen Rappaport (see Bibliographical References)

Play a version of "Duck, Duck, Goose." In this version, the player who is IT replaces duck with sharing words (caring, sharing, giving, serving) and the word goose with the word philanthropy. When someone is tapped with the word philanthropy, that person chases the person who is IT. If IT makes it back to sit down without being tagged, he or she shares a reflection (how he or she shared or how he or she feels about sharing acts of kindness). If IT is tagged, the tagger sits down and shares a reflection. The game continues with a new IT. Play until everyone has a chance to reflect.

  • Rappaport, Doreen. Martin’s Big Words. Hyperion, 2007. ISBN-13: 978-1423106357


  1. Anticipatory Set:

    Say the words stegosaurus, conservation, segregation, and supercalifragilisticexpialidocious! Tell the children that these are really big words and fun to say. Ask them to repeat the words after you. Ask the students if they know any other really big words.Have the class repeat the words suggested by the students. Explain to the students that some words are "big" words because they are very long and sometimes hard to pronounce, but at other times, words may be called "big" because they are about big, important ideas. Today they will be hearing a book called Martin’s Big Words, about the life of Civil Rights Leader Martin Luther King, Jr. They will decide if Martin's words are called "big" because they are long words, or because they are about important ideas, or both.

  2. Before reading the book, show the title on the coverand say, "I wonder what big words the author is referring to in the title? Do you think they are long words or important words?" Read the book Martin’s Big Words by Doreen Rappaport. Stop periodically to check for understanding: What does segregation mean? How did MLK work to change segregation? How did the government (mayors, governors, police chiefs, and judges) respond to the protests? What is the Nobel Peace Prize?

  3. After reading, ask the students to respond to the text and each other. Questions may include the following: What did you learn about Martin Luther King, Jr.? How did he help others? Have you ever done something nice or something that helped someone without being asked to do it? Why did you do it, and how did it make you feel?

  4. Tell the students that they will be learning another new, very big word. Write the word philanthropy in a display area and say the word. Have them repeat it several times. Tell the students that they have been talking about philanthropy -- the nice or kind things they do for others. Explain that philanthropy means "giving your time, talents, or treasure for the common good."

  5. Give examples of the time, talent, or treasure from the examples the students shared during the class discussion. (i.e. Aidan, you shared about your family helping a neighbor with yard work. Your family gave their time to help someone. You are philanthropists! Isabel, you shared about giving your old clothes away. You gave your treasure; you are a philanthropist! Jamal, you shared that you helped your mom clean the house. You used your talent for cleaning to help your mom. You are a philanthropist!)

  6. Tell the students that in the book Martin's Big Words, they learned how one person can make a difference. Tell them they will have the opportunity to use what they learned soon.

Cross Curriculum 

Tell the students that in the book Martin’s Big Words, they learned how one person can make a difference. Give examples of the time, talent, or treasure from the examples the students shared during the class discussion. Have students share one act of service they will do in the next week (helping a neighbor with yard work, giving old clothes away, helping the familyclean the house). Have the students brainstorm possible acts of service they can do without permission this week. Through hearing the variety of things their classmates choose this week, they learn that no one is too small to make a difference.

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. Strand PHIL.II Philanthropy and Civil Society
    1. Standard PCS 02. Diverse Cultures
      1. Benchmark E.1 Give examples of philanthropic traditions of diverse cultures.
      2. Benchmark E.4 Demonstrate listening skills.
    2. Standard PCS 05. Philanthropy and Government
      1. Benchmark E.10 Give an example of an action by an individual or a private organization that has helped to enhance a fundamental democratic principle.
      2. Benchmark E.9 Describe how philanthropic activities can bring about social change.
    3. Standard PCS 06. Philanthropy in History
      1. Benchmark E.1 Give an example of philanthropic action that influenced the history of the state or region.
      2. Benchmark E.2 Give an example of an individual who used social action to remedy an unjust condition.
      3. Benchmark E.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 E.10 Identify reasons why historic figures acted for the common good.
      2. Benchmark E.4 Give an example of how citizens act for the common good.