Your Land, My Land, Woody's Land, Too: Philanthropy Lesson (2nd)

K, 1, 2

Introduce the social activism of the folksinger, Woody Guthrie, and his legendary song This Land Is Your Land. His songs were written for everyone to try help lift their spirits. Learners understand that it is the responsibility of everyone to help take care of each other and the Earth.

PrintOne Forty-Minute Class Period

The learner will:

  • sing This Land Is Your Land.
  • use the vocabulary of the song This Land Is Your Land.
  • state a fact about Woody Guthrie or the song This Land Is Your Land.
  • The book This Land is Your Land (see Bibliographic References)
  • Recording of This Land Is Your Land (see Bibliographic References)
  • Chart paper with the words to This Land Is Your Land copied on it.
Teacher Preparation 

The pages in the book This Land Is Your Land are not numbered.  I’ve tried to explain the location of the page being used by citing the first line and/or describing the pictures.

  • Guthrie, Woody and Arlo Guthrie.  This Land Is Your Land.  Rounder Kids C8050. Rounder Records Corp., 1997.  ASIN: B000003H1, CD.
  • Guthrie, Woody and Kathy Jakobsen.  This Land Is Your Land.  Boston: Little, Brown and Company, 1998.  ISBN: 0-316-39215-4.


  1. Anticipatory Set: Play the song “This Land Is Your Land.” Ask: Have any of you ever heard this song before? Does anybody know anything about this song?

  2. Tell the class: This is a famous song about our country. We are going to learn about the man who wrote and sang this song.

  3. Refer to the book’s second to the last page in This Land Is Your Land that begins with “Woody Guthrie was born on July 14, 1912.” Either read or paraphrase the two pages about Woody’s life.

  4. Introduce the following words (and any others) that you find to be difficult for your class):

    • migrant – a worker who travels from one place to another in search of work.
    • merchant marines – ships that are owned by the country and take supplies to people in war time.
  5. Emphasize that Woody Guthrie wrote songs for everyone. He wrote songs to lift the spirits of people who were having a hard life.

  6. Read the book This Land Is Your Land. Check for understanding of the following vocabulary:

    • valley – a long, narrow, low land between mountains.
    • desert – a dry, often sandy area with little rain and few plants.
    • No Trespassing – do not enter.
    • steeple – a tall tower on the roof of a church.
    • relief office – a place where people go to get help: clothing, food, a place to stay.
  7. Sing the song This Land Is Your Land. Use the book as a guide for the lyrics.

  8. Print out the words to the song on chart paper. Have students take turns reading verses and highlighting vocabulary and/or rhyming words.


Have students turn to a partner and share one thing they learned today about the song or its writer. Then write a journal entry about one thing they learned. They could also write the definitions of some of the vocabulary words.

Philanthropy Framework

  1. Strand PHIL.II Philanthropy and Civil Society
    1. Standard PCS 02. Diverse Cultures
      1. Benchmark E.4 Demonstrate listening skills.
  2. Strand PHIL.III Philanthropy and the Individual
    1. Standard PI 01. Reasons for Individual Philanthropy
      1. Benchmark E.6 Make a connection between fundamental democratic principles and philanthropy.