Action Plan to Save the Children

6, 7, 8

In this lesson students choose a service project to take action for children's health in the poorest countries. Many ideas are suggested related to Save the Children's Newborn and Child Survival Campaign. The suggested projects are calendar events and can be found in the Service Experience and Handouts. Follow the service-learning plan of action to guide students in selecting the project that fits their time and talents.

PrintTwo 30-Minute Class Periods, plus time for service project

The learners will:

  • select a service-learning project.
  • follow the service-learning action plan to carry out and reflect on their service.
  • audio/video copy of "We Are the World" by Michael Jackson and Lionel Richie, available on YouTube at or an updated version recorded for Haiti in February 2010 at
  • Alternative: print out copies of the lyrics to "We Are the World" (Internet search: "We Are the World" + lyrics)
  • student copies of the handout below that fits the time of year or project
  • teacher or student copies of Handout Three: Service Project Planning

Count or measure student impact of the service project (number of caps knitted, hours spent, value of items or money collected, people involved, or people reached). Discuss the total and share it with others through the school newsletter, social media, or other media.

Have students meet in small groups to discuss the following reflection questions:

  1. What did you do for the service project?
  2. What have you learned?
  3. What did you learn about yourself?
  4. What did you learn about and from others who were involved in the service project?
  5. What would you do differently if you had the chance?
  6. What was the best part of the service?
  7. What was the most difficult part of the experience?
  8. Who have you gotten to know better?
  9. How have you changed?
  10. What are some ways to inform others that their action is needed for the common good?

After 15 minutes of discussion time, have each group select a representative to tell the whole class one or two things the group discussed and agreed on. Limit the group reports to two minutes each.


  1. Anticipatory Set:

    Play an audio or video version of "We Are the World" by Michael Jackson and Lionel Richie. If access to YouTube is not available, print out the lyrics to the song and read the lyrics together. Discuss what the title means. Ask the students whether the lyrics are true that "we are the children," and what that means to them. Discuss the main idea of the song. (What is the call to action? It is our responsibility to start giving.)

  2. Say, "What can we do to 'start giving' to the children around the world who need our help?" Tell the students that although they may not have money (treasure) to give, they have time and talents that may be shared, which can save lives.

  3. As an example of a way to share their time and talent, describe how children and adults all over the world knitted baby caps that were sent to developing countries where infant survival was low. These caps save lives. When a baby is born early or small (as many babies are in poor settings), heat loss can endanger the baby’s survival – especially heat loss from the head. Simply putting a cap on a baby decreases the chance that it will get sick and die of complications related to hypothermia (when body temperature drops). Many classrooms choose to make baby caps to international or local programs (check with your local hospital to find out if this is a local need). This is one way young people can make a difference.

  4. Another way they can share their time and talent is to write a letter to the president to request that our country send money to help babies and children in poor countries get the healthcare they need. Tell them this is one way to advocate for their issue with the government sector.

  5. Young people can also work together to hold a fundraiser. A fundraiser is an organized campaign through which a group sells products or services and donates the profits to a cause. Sometimes a fundraiser is an event or a request for money for a cause motivated by someone doing something outrageous, such as the principal dying her hair pink for a day. The group may choose to hold a fundraiser for Newborn and Child Survival through Save the Children or another nonprofit organization.

  6. Tell the students that Save the Children (through organizes events around the calendar. These events are listed above by date (see Service Experience).

  7. See handouts for ideas and information about a specific newborn and child survival campaign.

  8. Before they start their investigation of possible projects, help the class determine their common goals. Review all of the ideas gathered from the examples above and discuss with the students what their goals are for taking action. Do they want to work directly with children? Do they want to help one child or many? Do they want to be advocates for children who are far away? Maybe they want to raise money. Explore whether they want to address the issue of health, hunger, or access to resources and what kind of impact they want to have.

  9. Follow the stages of the service-learning process to guide the students as they plan the action they would like to take:


Read: On May 3, 2002 the first Spider Man movie was shown. If you saw the movie, you might recall that when bitten by a genetically modified spider, a nerdy, shy, and awkward high school student gained spider-like abilities. He eventually used these abilities to fight evil as a superhero. The following tagline was used as a promo for the movie, “There is a thin line between being an ordinary man and an extraordinary hero.” During the movie there is another scene in which Spider Man’s Uncle Ben tells Spider Man, “… with great power comes great responsibility.” Write a response: When you think about extraordinary people, what makes them extra-ordinary? Is it who they are or what they do? Or is it a combination of the two? What great powers do we possess as a class or school that we could use to help make our world a better place? How might these two taglines be representative of our involvement in service? How might they be used to encourage involvement of others?

Cross Curriculum 

Students choose how they want to take action to help reduce child mortality in the world's poorest countries. They may choose from ideas here or come up with their own. The time of year and availability of programs may help determine the project (See Save the Children projects by date below). Knit a cap; advocate for using reusable water bottles and reducing water usage; raise funds for a specific cause related to child health; write letters to the president to ask for more money to be spent on children's health and hunger in developing countries; host an event to raise awareness or work on a project (such as knitting caps); inform the local media about the class's efforts (and increase the impact of the project). Caps for Good Advocacy Day (March 1-2) World Water Day (March 22) World Malaria Day (April 25) Mothers' Day (May 8) World Food Day (October 16) World Pneumonia Day (November 12) World Toilet Day (November 16) Holiday Giving Season (December)

Philanthropy Framework

  1. Strand PHIL.II Philanthropy and Civil Society
    1. Standard PCS 07. Skills of Civic Engagement
      1. Benchmark MS.1 Identify and research public or social issues in the community, nation or the world related to the common good. Form an opinion, and develop and present a persuasive argument using communication tools.
      2. Benchmark MS.2 Discuss a public policy issue affecting the common good and demonstrate respect and courtesy for differing opinions.
      3. Benchmark MS.3 Participate in acts of democratic citizenship in the classroom or school, such as voting, group problem solving, classroom governance or elections.
  2. Strand PHIL.IV Volunteering and Service
    1. Standard VS 01. Needs Assessment
      1. Benchmark MS.1 Identify a need in the school, local community, state, nation, or world.
      2. Benchmark MS.2 Research the need in the school, neighborhood, local community, state, nation, or world.
    2. Standard VS 02. Service and Learning
      1. Benchmark MS.1 Select a service project based on interests, abilities and research.
    3. Standard VS 03. Providing Service
      1. Benchmark MS.1 Provide a needed service.
      2. Benchmark MS.2 Describe the goals of the project and their impact.
      3. Benchmark MS.3 Describe the task and the student role.
    4. Standard VS 04. Raising Private Resources
      1. Benchmark MS.3 Develop a service plan.
      2. Benchmark MS.4 Set a fund-raising goal and identify sources of private funds.
    5. Standard VS 05. Integrating the Service Experience into Learning
      1. Benchmark MS.2 Evaluate progress on the service-learning project before, during, and after the project.
      2. Benchmark MS.3 Identify outcomes from the service.