Kids Can Make The Difference

K, 1, 2

Students will identify some community and school needs.  They will respond to literature about being a good person and making a difference. Working as a group, the students select a philanthropic project, formulate a plan, and execute that plan to address the need.

PrintTwo Forty-Five Minute Class Periods (Project: Teacher/class sets time)

The learner will:

  • list needs in the school and local area.
  • select a class project to make a difference in the community.
  • create a plan to meet the chosen need.
  • maintain a journal.
  • write and present a book showing the class's accomplishments.
  • newspaper/magazine photos showing areas/people that could benefit from philathropic actions (a handicapped person, a littered road or stream)
  • newspaper/magazine photos showing people who are demonstrating philanthropic actions (Look for photos addressing a wide variety of needs, ages, socioeconomic status, etc.)
  • The Three Questions by Jon J. Muth (see Bibliographical References).
  • chart paper
  • materials for student-selected project
Home Connection 

Interactive Parent/Student/ Community Activity: After Day One, students ask their families for help with project ideas for making a difference in the school or community. After the project is complete, set up an Open House to allow students to exhibit their books and explain the philanthropy involved in this project. It's time to show off their community contributions as good citizens. Invite the media. Teacher Note: Serve food and you will have more people!

  • Muth, Jon J.  The Three Questions.  Scholastic Press, 2002.  ISBN: 0439199964


  1. Anticipatory Set:

    Display several newspaper and other pictures that exhibit some need of intervention: a polluted lot, a park without flowers, a person who is lonely or needs help. Ask the students to describe time, talent, or treasures that could be used to help these situations. If possible, show pictures and discuss places in your area.

  2. Ask the students to recall the meaning of the word philanthropist.

  3. Display some photos of people acting philanthropically. Be sure to include some photos of local actions (Habitat for Humanity, girl scouts, etc.). Ask the students to describe what needs are being addressed in each picture and who is donating time, talent, or treasure to meet the needs.

  4. Use the "think, pair, share model" to reflect on the following question: Can kids be philanthropists? Students think about the question, then talk it over with the person sitting next to them. They should discuss examples and reasons to support their opinion. After students talk for a few minutes, ask students to share their ideas with the whole class.

  5. Tell the students that you are going to read them a story about a boy who wants to be a good person. He will ask three questions. The answers will help him be a good person. Before reading, ask the students to give some advice about how to be a good person. Write their ideas on a chart or on an overhead transparency.

  6. Read aloud the story The Three Questions by Jon J. Muth (see Bibliographical References).

  7. After reading, ask the students to state what the boy learned about being a good person. Compare the answers to their ideas from before reading. Add the answers from the book to the list of ways to be a good person.

  8. Use the book as astarting point to help students recognize that children can be philanthropic in simple ways by looking at the people right next to them and the environment immediately around them--such as the school grounds or local community. Tell the students that like Nikolai in the story, they are going to respond to a need that is right next to them.

  9. Take the students for a walk around the school building, school grounds, and/or neighborhood to help them think ofa way they can make a difference (look for safety issues, pollution, unkindness, loneliness, etc.). End the lesson by asking children to think overnight about their school and the needs it may have.

  10. Day Two:

    Anticipatory Set:

    Ask the students to name some ways they can make a difference based on their observations around school and talking at home. Some ideas may include a bench for the playground, peace garden donations, tutoring other students, or picking up litter.

  11. Make a list of ideas children have offered.

  12. Discuss the different options. Narrow it down to the favorite four or five ideas.

  13. Discuss pros and cons of the favorite four or five ideas. You may use a decision-making model for this.

  14. Make a final choice of a philanthropic project that they class can carry out together.

  15. Guide the students as they make a plan, determine materials needed, make a timeline, divide up responsibilities, and carry out their plan.

  16. Provide time for writing in journals each day as the students carry out their plan. The journal entries will help the students create a book that describes their completed project.


Ongoing teacher observation will be used throughout this project. When project is finished, students will write and illustrate a book describing the project and how the classdemonstratred philanthropy. Make sure they usedthe terms time, treasure, and talent and explained howeachwas demonstrated in this project. Teacher Note: Kindergarten and first may want to make a class book. Second grade may make individual books.

Cross Curriculum 

Students will identify a school need, develop a plan of how to address that need, and carry out the plan.

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. Benchmark E.3 Recognize that citizens have a responsibility for the common good as defined by democratic principles.
    2. 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. 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 07. Skills of Civic Engagement
      1. Benchmark E.3 Participate in acts of democratic citizenship in the classroom or school, such as voting, group problem solving, classroom governance or elections.
  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.5 Give examples of actions students can take to improve the common good and list or describe responsibilities that go with those actions.
  4. 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.
    2. Standard VS 02. Service and Learning
      1. Benchmark E.1 Select a service project based on interests, abilities, and research.
    3. Standard VS 03. Providing Service
      1. Benchmark E.1 Provide a needed service.
      2. Benchmark E.2 Describe the goals of the project and their impact.
      3. Benchmark E.3 Describe the task and the student role.
    4. Standard VS 05. Integrating the Service Experience into Learning
      1. Benchmark E.2 Evaluate progress on the service-learning project before, during, and after the project.