This I Can Do (4th Grade)

3, 4, 5

Through literature this lesson will explore diverse communities united in working for the common good. It will demonstrate the importance of civic virtue and encourage students to think about the value of working together to solve community problems.

Lesson Rating 
PrintOne Forty-Five Minute Class Period

The learner will:

  • explore how a diverse community can work together.
  • identify needs in their school, neighborhood or community.
  • brainstorm ways they can work as a community for the common good.
  • The Garden of Happiness by Erika Tamar (See Biographical References)
  • Fresh or artificial flowers
  • Chart Paper
Teacher Preparation 

It is important to be sensitive to the possibility that someone in your class may have some personal experience with homelessness, hunger and poverty.


 Write a way that one person can do a small thing that has a bigger impact.


Tamar, Erika.  The Garden of Happiness.  Harcourt Brace & Company, 1996.  ISBN:  0152305823.


  1. Anticipatory Set:

    Before the students enter the room, place several vases around the room with water in them. As the students enter the room, give each one a few of flowers. These can be real or artificial. Real flowers will make a bigger impact. Tell them to place their flowers in a vase of their choice and then take a seat. Ask students to express how it made them feel about their classroom? Tell them that the classroom is like a neighborhood and together people care for their neighborhood.They are going to hear a story about a neighborhood today and what the people did to make it a beautiful place.

  2. Define two vocabulary words: diversity and neighborhood.

  3. Read The Garden of Happiness to the class. (This story is about a girl who watches the adults in her neighborhood create a garden in a city lot. After observing how it has changed them, she wants to take part but there isn’t any room left. She plants her seed in a crack in the sidewalk just outside the neighborhood garden. The plant makes a big change for all the people in the neighborhood demonstrating that the contributions of one person can make a difference.) Discuss the story and have students describe how the story made them feel. Ask how was the neighborhood made better, how might it have looked better, felt better and sounded better? Was giving involved? If so, what was it? What did the diverse neighborhood group want to achieve and why?

  4. Talk about ways to help bring the local community together to enhance the common good. On chart paper, list the answers to the following questions:

    • What are some school, community, or neighborhood needs?
    • Who or what organizations already helps to fill the needs? How?
    • What are some ways individuals or the class can make a difference?
Cross Curriculum 

Students look for ways to beautify their neighborhood and community and plan a way to make a difference.

Philanthropy Framework

  1. Strand PHIL.I Definitions of Philanthropy
    1. Standard DP 02. Roles of Government, Business, and Philanthropy
      1. Benchmark E.1 Give examples of needs met by government, business, civil society, and family.
  2. Strand PHIL.II Philanthropy and Civil Society
    1. Standard PCS 07. Skills of Civic Engagement
      1. Benchmark E.2 Discuss an issue affecting the common good in the classroom or school and demonstrate respect and courtesy for differing opinions.
  3. Strand PHIL.IV Volunteering and Service
    1. Standard VS 01. Needs Assessment
      1. Benchmark E.1 Identify a need in the school, local community, state, nation, or world.