Read to Feed

K, 1, 2

To involve the children in a project to help families who don’t have resources for a balanced nutritious diet. Heifer International will send an actual animal to a family with the money the children raise. The gift helps families be more self-sufficient. The class may buy one family a flock of chicks for as little as $20. Goats, cows and other animals are more expensive.

Lesson Rating 
PrintTwo Forty-Five Minute Class Periods (and time for reading outside of the classroom)

The learners will:

  • set a reading goal and gather pledges to raise money for the Read-to-Feed Project.
  • come to a consensus on an animal to “purchase” from the Read-to-Feed catalog.
  • read and keep track of books read or time spent reading.
  • write a letter to the family who will receive the animal.

Teacher Note: You will need to order in advance a leader’s guide from Heifer International. The guide arrives in 7-10 days and includes lesson plans for the “Read to Feed” program. Call 1-800-422-0474 or go to Heifer International’s Website <>.

Home Connection 

Interactive Parent / Student Homework:Refer to the Leader’s Guide for the Heifer International Read-to-Feed Project for a copy of the letter to parents. The students will be reading at home to meet their reading goals. In addition, they will need parental assistance in gathering pledges for the fund raiser.


Feeding Minds, Fighting Hunger <>

"Great Nutrition Resources for Children." Guide to Nursing Schools.  This site is full of up-to-date facts, information and activities for different ages, and links to interactive sites.  [no longer available] 

Heifer International: Giving Programs <>

Read to Feed Program<>

The Hunger Site <> 


  1. Anticipatory Set:

  2. Option One: Bring in a representive animal from the Heifer International catalog (goat, bees, duck, etc.). Have the handler teach the students a little about the care required to maintain the animal and the benefits the animal brings. Then tell the students that they can purchase an animal like this one to go to a needy family somewhere in the world. They would be philanthropists as they earned money to give this gift.

  3. Option Two: Start the class by making a meaningful promise to the students. Then, ask the class what a promise is. Ask students to recall a time they made a promise and what that meant to them. Ask students what promises were made in the video “The Promise.” (The families promise to give one of the animal’s offspring to another needy family and the promise to help someone else.)

  4. Introduce the Read-to-Feed Project. Review the definition of philanthropy and tell the students that when they participate in this project, they will be philanthropists.

  5. Each student makes a “promise” to read a specific (minimum) number of books. They will get their family and friends to pledge (promise to give) a certain amount of money for each book that the student reads over a designated time. The project is clearly explained in the Read-to-Feed leader’s guide. Talk about the benefits of working together as a class to make the gift more meaningful.

  6. Go over the specific rules, procedures, and safety concerns in carrying out the project. The details are in the leader’s pack. Please make sure students are not soliciting funds from strangers—only friends and family—and that they are not going out unaccompanied.

  7. Review the meaning of opportunity cost and ask the students to list opportunities they have to miss because of their commitment to this project (giving up play time to collect pledges or read). Discuss how the project also benefits the students (feelings of pride, joy of giving, love of reading).

  8. At this time the class can discuss the animal that they may wish to donate. (Set your class goals in relation to their motivation and excitement. Class gifts may be as small as $20 or as large as hundreds of dollars.) The leader’s packet includes a catalog which tells the cost of each animal as well as an explanation of how the animal is able to help the recipients. You may request a catalog by calling 1-800-422-0474 or see information about specific animals.

  9. Students collect and count their money. Work together to determine the total value of their gift. Have the class make their final choice for an animal to donate. It is valuable for students to understand that philanthropy involves the freedom to make choices.

  10. Students write a letter to the recipients of the animal. The letter should include their feelings about the project, what they understand about what they are giving, and an explanation of how the gift will impact the family’s life (benefits of the specific animal). The letters may be included in the envelope with the gift check.


Through the letter, the teacher will know if each child understood that the gift will help the family be able to provide a better diet and improve their self-sufficiency. Use the rubric below to grade the letters. To earn 4 points, the letter must mention all of the following: The gift will help provide for a better diet. Two of the specific benefits their animal provides. (For example, a goat provides milk, fertilizer and income from the sale of the offspring.) The recipient will receive training. 

Cross Curriculum 

The students will raise money through pledges in order to purchase an animal for a needy family. Each student makes a commitment to read a certain number of books and gathers pledges from family and friends. When the students have read the books and collected the money, they will purchase the animal through the Read-to-Feed catalog. The gift will help the family be more self-sufficient. The students summarize the experience and respond by writing a letter to the family that received the animal.

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.5 Recognize that volunteering requires freedom of choice.
    3. Standard DP 03. Names and Types of Organizations within the Civil Society Sector
      1. Benchmark E.2 Name an example of a civil society charitable organization.
    4. Standard DP 06. Role of Family in Philanthropy
      1. Benchmark E.2 Identify examples of families supporting giving and sharing.
  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.4 Demonstrate listening skills.
    3. Standard PCS 03. Philanthropy and Economics
      1. Benchmark E.3 Give examples of <i>opportunity cost</i> in philanthropic giving.
  3. Strand PHIL.III Philanthropy and the Individual
    1. Standard PI 01. Reasons for Individual Philanthropy
      1. Benchmark E.2 Identify why people practice philanthropy related to their own self-interest.
  4. Strand PHIL.IV Volunteering and Service
    1. Standard VS 03. Providing Service
      1. Benchmark E.3 Describe the task and the student role.
      2. Benchmark E.4 Demonstrate the skills needed for the successful performance of the volunteer job.
      3. Benchmark E.5 Articulate and demonstrate the safety procedures that are part of the volunteer experience.
    2. Standard VS 04. Raising Private Resources
      1. Benchmark E.4 Set a fund-raising goal and identify sources of private funds.
    3. Standard VS 05. Integrating the Service Experience into Learning
      1. Benchmark E.3 Identify outcomes from the service.