Our Classroom is a Community

K, 1, 2

The students recognize that their classroom is a community because the students are brought together for a common purpose. The students are encouraged to be philanthropic within their classroom, school and family. They reflect on how philanthropy and trust affect the common good of the community.

Lesson Rating 
PrintOne Forty-Five Minute Class Period

The learner will:

  • recognize that the classroom is a community of people of which they are an important part.
  • brainstorm ways to share what they know, have, and do in the classroom community.
  • give examples of philanthropic acts that don't need permission.
  • state why trust is important in a community.
  • define philanthropy as sharing what you know, have, and do with others.
  • index cards
  • basket or file box labeled "Kind Acts to Build Community"
  • pre-printed cards with acts of kindness on them -- ideas on Philanthropy Acts handout below
  • stickers (handout) printed on address labels to give to students who act philanthropically
Teacher Preparation 

Prepare several index cards with acts of philanthropy printed on them -- one thing per card that a student can do or share that builds community caring. 


  1. Anticipatory Set:

    Ask for a volunteer. Give the student an index card with a good deed printed or illustrated on it (See handout below for ideas.) Have the student do the act for someone in the room. Repeat with two more students and cards. Ask the participating students how it felt to be the giver and receiver. Discuss how each act is good for the community/common good.

    Put the cards in an index card file or basket, and tell students these are things they can take out of the box and do without permission. [You, and they, will add cards to the box throughout the year. Encourage them to use the cards to take action regularly.]

  2. Write the word community on chart paper. Let the students define it in their own words. Eventually lead them to the definition that a community is a group of people that live in the same area or people that come together for a common purpose.

  3. Discuss in what ways the classroom fits that definition and can be considered a community. Ask the students what attributes, behaviors and actions make the classroom a pleasant community.  Make a list on the chalkboard of positive things they can do in the school and classroom without permission. Make a T-chart of kind things that require permission and don't need permission.

  4. Review the definition of philanthropy as sharing what you know, have, and do with others. Point out that many of the deeds they listed on the board are acts of philanthropy. Help the students to classify their list into three categories—sharing time (playing at recess), sharing talent (helping with work), and sharing treasure, or stuff (sharing a little toy or school supply).

  5. Define trust as showing me you can do the right things even when no one is looking. Discuss what it means to trust each other. What does trust feel like? Discuss how or why trust matters within the classroom community. Without trust, how will people feel about accepting acts of philanthropy?

  6. Give the students the index cards and have each student write or draw one philanthropic act he or she can perform in the classroom or school. They should think about and be ready to explain how that act provides for the common good for the school/classroom community. Add their cards to the box. 

    Note to teacher: every time you see a student, they create a new card and get a sticker. 

  7. Encourage the students to carry out the philanthropic act sometime in the next few days. After a few days, discuss how students feel about their classroom/school community. Ask if (and how) this activity has improved the common good of the community. 

    Does this activity help improve the classroom’s purpose (improve their ability to learn)?


After a few days, have a debriefing discussion. Discuss how students feel about their classroom/school community as a giver and receiver. Ask if (and how) this activity has improved the common good of the community. Encourage the students to continue to share their time, talent and treasure with others to build up positive feelings and trust in the community. Does this activity help improve the classroom’s purpose (improve their ability to learn)? Evaluate students’ understanding of philanthropy, community and common good.

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.3 Identify ways that trust is important in all communities.
      2. Benchmark E.6 Explain why acting philanthropically is good for the community, state, nation, or world.
    3. 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.1 Define the word <em>trust</em> and its role in all communities.
    2. Standard PCS 05. Philanthropy and Government
      1. Benchmark E.1 Define community as the degree that people come together for the common good.
      2. 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.7 Give classroom examples of when a student does not need the teacher's permission to act philanthropically.