I Am a Hero for Animals!

6, 7, 8

The lesson provides learners with an opportunity to explore ways to become a hero for animals by promoting animal welfare and humane treatment of animals.  Learners identify a local, state, national or international animal welfare cause and develop a personal service/advocacy plan, using the rational approach to problem solving.  They implement the plan, and share the results of their service/advocacy with their peers and/or the community.

Lesson Rating 
PrintOne class period with additional time needed to complete the service/advocacy plan

The learner will:

  • define the word excuses and recognize commonly used excuses
  • plan and implement a service/advocacy for animal welfare/humane treatment of animals using the rational approach.
  • reflect on, celebrate, and share the successful completion of his/her implemented plan.
  • Copies of Handout One: Excuses! Excuses! for each learner.
  • Copies of Handout Two: Service/Advocacy Action Plan for each learner.
  • Copies of Handout Three: Heroes for Animals: "Wall of Fame" Award for each learner.
Home Connection 

Students should be encouraged to share their plan of service with family and enlist their assistance with the plan as appropriate.


  1. Anticipatory Set: As the learners enter the classroom write on the display board the following phrases: I’m too tired…I’m only a kid…..I’m too busy….. It’s not my turn …. It’s not my problem…It’s not my responsibility… I’m not good at it…. Ask the learners to read these phrases and solicit their input on what these phrases might signify and under what circumstances they might be used. Lead them to the conclusion that these are all excuses for not taking action. Write the word excuse on the display board. Have the learners help you define the word. (Def: excuse: the reason or rationale used to explain or justify one's action or inaction.)

  2. Distribute a copy of Handout One: Excuses! Excuses! to each learner and have them look over the contents of this handout. Ask them to help add any excuses not listed on Handout One: Excuses! Excuses! that they may have used or heard others use.

  3. Continue with a class discussion, ask students to reflect on why it is important to take a rational problem solving action approach, and not to use excuses, when it comes to the humane treatment of animals and animal welfare.

  4. Ask the students to brainstorm issues dealing with animal welfare and humane treatment in their own community or beyond. 

  5. Tell the learners that they are now being asked to put aside any “excuses” they might have and develop their own plan of service or advocacy for the humane treatment of animals. They may work as individuals, in small groups or as a class. When their plan(s) has been developed, approved by the teacher and implemented they will be able to place their plaque on a Heroes for Animals: “Wall of Fame.”

  6. Distribute a copy of Handout: Service/Advocacy Action Plan to each learner and review the directions and expectations. Be sure to include the date that the action plan is to be implemented. Tell the learners that their Rational Approach Advocacy Action Plan must be “pre-approved” by you before implementation. Allow for an appropriate amount of time for the learners to plan, individually or in a group(s). Set a reasonable completion date based on the class’ plans. Have students write the completion date on the bottom of the plan.

  7. Monitor the learners’ progress during the implementation period.

  8. On the due date, distribute Handout: Heroes for Animals: “Wall of Fame” Award and have each learner create an award plaque for themselves based on their service/advocacy project. Post the awards on the Heroes for Animals: “Wall of Fame” and allow students time to share or read and discuss the project(s).

  9. Display the “Wall of Fame” in a prominent place and arrange to invite other classes and groups in the school to view the wall. Allow learners to be a docent for the “Wall of Fame” during their noon hours and class break periods helping their peers better understand the need for the humane treatment of animals, and encouraging their support for animal welfare.

  10. This display could be left on display during activities in which families and/or community members may be in the school. Or the “Wall of Fame” could be donated to the public library or other public location for display.

  11. As a reflection on their learning, ask students to write an essay in response to this quotation: “The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated.” –Gandhi What do you think Gandhi was trying to say to the world? Do you agree or disagree, why? This quote was said in the early part of the twentieth century, do you think it applies to the world today? Why or why not?


Learner involvement in the class discussions and group work will provide a portion of the assessment for this lesson. The major portion of assessment for this lesson will focus on the planning and successful implementation of the individual service/advocacy plans. The ability to use their knowledge of animal welfare in their reflection essay may also be assessed.

Cross Curriculum 

The learners will generate ideas for a plan of service/advocacy related to animal welfare, create and implement a plan, and reflect on the impact. They will share their work with their peers and/or the community, helping them better understand the need for the humane treatment of animals, and encourage their support for the concept.

Read about the service-learning project called Cat Walk by Indiana students who were taught using this I Am a Hero for Animals! lesson to guide student learning and action.

Ms. Welsh is a 7th grade teacher from Indiana who believes service-learning creates good humans. “In the egocentric mind of an adolescent it is absolutely critical that we give them the ability to give of themselves,” said Welsh. “It is incredible to watch students who have so little give their hearts to a project or event.”

Philanthropy Framework

  1. Strand PHIL.I Definitions of Philanthropy
    1. Standard DP 02. Roles of Government, Business, and Philanthropy
      1. Benchmark MS.2 Give examples of needs not met by the government, business, or family sectors.
      2. Benchmark MS.6 Identify significant contributions to society that come from the civil society sector.
    2. Standard DP 04. Operational Characteristics of Nonprofit Organizations
      1. Benchmark MS.3 Describe how a specific civil society organization in the community operates.
  2. Strand PHIL.II Philanthropy and Civil Society
    1. Standard PCS 01. Self, citizenship, and society
      1. Benchmark MS.4 Describe the characteristics of someone who helps others.
      2. Benchmark MS.5 Identify historic examples of citizens using civil society organizations to petition the government.
    2. Standard PCS 02. Diverse Cultures
      1. Benchmark MS.4 Identify civil society organizations that protect and speak for minority viewpoints.
    3. Standard PCS 05. Philanthropy and Government
      1. Benchmark MS.14 Describe how citizens can use organizations in the civil society sector to hold people in power accountable for their actions on behalf of the public.
  3. Strand PHIL.III Philanthropy and the Individual
    1. Standard PI 01. Reasons for Individual Philanthropy
      1. Benchmark MS.4 Identify and describe the actions of how citizens act for the common good.
  4. Strand PHIL.IV Volunteering and Service
    1. Standard VS 02. Service and Learning
      1. Benchmark MS.1 Select a service project based on interests, abilities and research.
    2. Standard VS 03. Providing Service
      1. Benchmark MS.3 Describe the task and the student role.
    3. Standard VS 04. Raising Private Resources
      1. Benchmark MS.3 Develop a service plan.
    4. Standard VS 05. Integrating the Service Experience into Learning
      1. Benchmark MS.2 Evaluate progress on the service-learning project before, during, and after the project.