Cleaning a Common Area

6, 7, 8

The learners identify a common area where trash accumulates and plan a clean-up project. 

PrintOne 50-Minute Session plus a cleanup day

The learner will:

  • identify an area in the school, neighborhood, or community that is in need of clean-up.
  • participate in a service clean-up effort of a “commons” area.
  • plastic gloves for all learners
  • trash bags


  1. Anticipatory Set:

    Ask learners to think of places they have seen trash on the ground in a common area: along the road, in the parks, on the beach, or on the school grounds. Talk about who should be responsible for picking up these items and disposing of them - other than the person who discarded them in the first place. What happens if no one picks up these items to dispose of them?

  2. Invite a local community or nonprofit representative to talk to the learners about the different types of “trash” they might encounter. Be sure the discussion involves the proper procedure for handling all items during the clean-up. Perhaps a display of items that may be encountered during the clean-up will be helpful.

  3. Discuss which areas are in need of cleanup and reach a consensus about which area they will target for a cleanup event. Make plans for transportation, communication, and supplies. Get ready for the clean-up day.

  4. Clean-up Day:

    Distribute plastic gloves to each participant. Provide plenty of gloves so they can get new ones if one pair gets contaminated. Give them a safety talk about handling trash and not touching their faces. Use planned transportation or walk to the cleanup site. 

  5. Participants work together to clean up the designated area and dispose of the garbage bags safely and appropriately.

    Back inside, reflect on the experience - What was it like? What did they find? What surprised them? What would they do differently next time?

    Content discussion: What types of things do people throw outside? What might encourage them to throw things away properly? What are some things they could communicate to make people aware of the problem of throwing things outside?

Philanthropy Framework

  1. Strand PHIL.II Philanthropy and Civil Society
    1. Standard PCS 03. Philanthropy and Economics
      1. Benchmark MS.9 Recognize problems different communities encounter using a "commons" and possible solutions.
  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. 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. Benchmark MS.4 Demonstrate the skills needed for the successful performance of the volunteer job.
      5. Benchmark MS.5 Articulate and demonstrate the safety procedures that are part of the volunteer experience.