Native American Legend about Community (A) (3rd Grade)

3, 4, 5

To review the idea of philanthropy and community through a Native American legend in which people take action in response to a community need.

Lesson Rating 
PrintOne Forty-Five Minute Class Period

The learner will:

  • identify a community need, who fulfilled the need, and what the implications were for the future.
  • give examples of how they can act selflessly.

The Book: The Legend of the Bluebonnet. Tomie DePaolo


Reflect about and discuss what personal treasures might be too precious to give away. Does something have to be precious to you to be a valued gift? Is it selfish to give away things you don't need? Draw a picture of a "treasure" you have that may be useful to someone else and addresses a need. This item should not be too precious but still valued by others (a gently used shirt but not a broken toy). 


DePaolo, Tomie.  Legend of the Bluebonnet (The).  Paper Star, 1996.  ISBN:  0698113594.


  1. Anticipatory Set: Show students the illustrations from Tomie DePaolo’s The Legend of the Bluebonnet.

    Preview the story with the following questions: In this legend, the Comanche People face a community problem: What do you think the community problem is? How do you think it will be solved? What do you think the future for the Comanche People will be like?

  2. Read The Legend of the Bluebonnet to students.

  3. Discuss the idea of philanthropy in this community.

    • What was the community need?
    • What options and resources did the People have to meet the need?
    • What was the plan of action to fulfill the need?
    • Who fulfilled the need? How do you think she felt about her sacrifice? What was the opportunity cost of her sacrifice (What did she have to give up to help her people)?
    • Because of the little girl’s action, how was the future of her community affected?
  4. Questions to explore with your class:

  5. Ask the children to think about what is their most valued possession? Explain that this may be something that can be bought or not. Ask for a few volunteers to share their thoughts. Ask the students to consider the question: If your community needed that most valued possession to solve a problem, would you sacrifice your treasure? How would you feel about it? (An example of this may be as simple as donating a favorite toy to a homeless shelter, or as complicated as a mother “giving up” her child to fight to defend the country). Teacher Note: Give examples to the class as appropriate to the classes understanding and maturity level.

  6. Many communities experience disasters from the effects of droughts, flooding, tsunamis, earthquakes, hurricanes and terrorists. Ask if the children are aware of how communities worldwide have demonstrated philanthropy to assist in response to a disaster.

  7. The Author’s Notes for The Legend of the Bluebonnet talks about She-Who-Is-Alone’s act of philanthropy in giving up her beloved doll to save her people as the kind of selfless action that young people are capable of, acts that can make a difference in people’s lives or the world (acts that effect the common good). Ask the children: Have you ever acted selflessly to help someone or something in need? Explain how you felt about it.

Cross Curriculum 

Students give or share a valued possession or service that benefits the community.

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. 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 02. Diverse Cultures
      1. Benchmark E.3 Identify the similarities in philanthropic behavior among people of different cultural backgrounds.
    2. Standard PCS 06. Philanthropy in History
      1. Benchmark E.4 Describe an early example of philanthropy practiced in the indigenous culture.
  3. Strand PHIL.III Philanthropy and the Individual
    1. Standard PI 01. Reasons for Individual Philanthropy
      1. Benchmark E.9 Give examples how people give time, talent or treasure in different cultures.