We Are a Comm-un-it-y.I've Got All My Classmates with Me-Part I

3, 4, 5

Learners will demonstrate knowledge of the elements of community building, individual and civic responsibility. They will participate in the decision making process of rule, law and procedure making.

Lesson Rating 
PrintTwo to Three 60 Minute Class Periods

The learner will:

  • identify key elements of communities.
  • explain what makes a school community.
  • identify key elements of community governments and describe how they work.
  • demonstrate concepts of civic responsibility, civic virtue and common good.Civic engagement (n) A person's connections with the life of their communities - Robert Putnam Civic responsibility (n) A person's duty or obligation to their community as a citizen Common good (n) Resources shared for the collective benefit of the whole group of people. Community (n, pl. -ies) A group of people living in the same area and under the same government; a class or group having common interests and likes Constitution (n) The set of fundamental rules governing the politics of a nation or sub national body. In 1787, at a Constitutional Convention the United States constitution was written Empower (v) To authorize; to delegate; to license
  • Pencil, paper
  • Lewis, Barbara A. The Kids Guide to Social Action. New York: Free Spirit Publishing, 1991.
  • Paints, colored pencils or crayons
Home Connection 

Ask learners to talk with their parents/guardians and write down three rules or procedures that all members of the family community must follow and three rules or procedures that apply only to children 18 years or younger in the family community.

  • Lewis, Barbara A. The Kid's Guide to Social Action. New York: Free Spirit Publishing, 1991. ISBN: 1575420384.
  • Lewis, Barbara A. The Kid's Guide to Service Project: Over 500 Service Ideas for Young People Who Want to Make a Differences. New York: Free Spirit Publishing, 1995. ISBN: 0915793822.
  • Lewis, Barbara A. Kids with Courage: True Stories about Young People Making a Difference. New York: Free Spirit Publishing, 1992. ISBN: 0915793393.


  1. Read selections of either book listed in Materials section and in Bibliographical References to the class.

  2. Define " community " (a place where people live and work together).

  3. Develop the concepts of: civic engagement, civic responsibility, common good.

  4. List different types of communities . (school, fire station, camp, towns, cities, etc.)

  5. Pose this question to the students, allowing them one minute to think before answering, "How is our classroom like a community?"

  6. Make a classroom list of what makes up a community. Here are some examples of responses that you might receive: sharing, fairness, laws/rules, houses, neighborhoods, people, police, schools, traffic, families, firemen and parks.

  7. Now return to the question and use responses to connect the classroom with the concept of community. Lead to the conclusions that: Sharing is important in communities : In communities people share water, electricity, roads, parks, postal system, emergency system, etc. In our classroom we share water, electricity, glue, crayons, paper, principals, janitors, etc. Rules, Laws and Procedures are important to communities : We have rules, laws and procedures that we create and follow. Identify the stakeholders who make these rules and procedures in the school community and the local community at large.

  8. Have learners give examples of laws and procedures. Examples:

    • Laws and Rules : Traffic laws, laws about theft are legislated
    • Procedures: Forms to fill out before taking a field trip, putting all waste in specified containers
  9. Why do we have rules in our community? (To keep us safe) Why do we have rules in our classroom/school? (To keep us safe) Why do we have procedures that we follow? (To create a consistent way of doing things, reduce confusion)

  10. How do we make rules or procedures? (The principal, superintendent develop rules that they feel are necessary to make a safe and educational environment for the students. They are developed through needs based on prior experiences and concerns. These concerns could be brought up through parents, staff or students. The principal would take his/her concerns to the superintendent and he would in turn take them to the school board, who runs the school. Then they would decide whether or not they feel that it is important enough to make it a rule or have a procedure developed or law for the school, by voting.)

  11. How do communities make rules? (Different sized communities have different procedures to make laws. Very small communities have "town meetings" where local issues are discussed, like should they fix the old fire truck or buy a new one. Cities may have a "city council," which would run similarly to the school board. They are representatives of the city that vote for all. They might vote on an issue to build a new fire station for a growing community. States have Representatives and Senate members that vote for the people of the state on individual state issues, like highway speed limits. Countries also have Representatives and Senate members who are sent from each state to vote on issues that affect the entire country, like the legal age to drive, and there are also international laws and procedures.)

  12. Cooperation is important to communities . Discuss with learners the importance of cooperating for the common good . Explain how a law is made in your community. Use the example of a neighborhood that has a very high rate of traffic accidents and the people want a traffic light placed at an intersection.

  13. Have learners draw a diagram that shows how a community government is organized. Go over it with students to assure accuracy. Additional activity if time permits.

  14. Form small groups and re-enact the process involved in making a law in community government.

  15. Have learners write a short paragraph with illustrations depicting two activities they discovered in the book, The Kid's Guide to Social Action .


Create a situation in a community that shows how laws are made in a community. Evaluate a structured response in paragraph form, about three types of communities and at least two things that make it a community OR Write a song/poem, etc. that describes a community. Draw or paint a mural that demonstrates characteristics of an identified community. Create a skit that clearly displays elements of a community. Evaluate the paragraph based on the reading of The Kid's Guide to Social Action. The following rubric may be used for both writing assignments. Paragraph Rubric Four Points Paragraph has a topic sentence, three examples of supportive information, correct grammar, structure and usage. Paragraph has a concluding sentence. Three Points Paragraph has a topic sentence, two examples of supportive information, and 75% accuracy of spelling, grammar and usage. Two points Paragraph has some details and examples. An attempt is made to provide requested information. One point An attempt was made, although there is not sufficient skill demonstrated for age/grade level Zero points No attempt was made, the work was not submitted.

Philanthropy Framework

  1. Strand PHIL.I Definitions of Philanthropy
    1. Standard DP 01. Define Philanthropy
      1. 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.7 Describe the concept of competing self-interest.
    3. Standard DP 04. Operational Characteristics of Nonprofit Organizations
      1. Benchmark E.1 Describe how citizens organize in response to a need.
  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 05. Philanthropy and Government
      1. Benchmark E.14 Describe the roles of citizens in government.
      2. Benchmark E.2 Identify why rules are important and how not all behaviors are addressed by rules.
      3. Benchmark E.7 Describe why the classroom, school, or neighborhood is a community governed by fundamental democratic principles.
  3. Strand PHIL.III Philanthropy and the Individual
    1. Standard PI 01. Reasons for Individual Philanthropy
      1. 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.