Song Mapping

K, 1, 2

Motivated by the song "This Land is Your Land," learners locate areas on a U.S. map and discuss the definitions of community, philanthropy, and volunteer. They picture themselves as volunteers, helping others.

Lesson Rating 
PrintOne Thirty-Forty Minute Class Period

The leaner will:

  • define philanthropy as giving of time, talent, and treasures.
  • locate, on a map of the United States, five of the places listed in the chorus of This Land is Your Land.
  • explain that relief offices are everywhere and often have volunteers who work in them.
  • describe how s/he could be a volunteer.
  • Recording of This Land is Your Land (see Bibliographical References)
  • Book, This Land is Your Land (see Bibliographical References)
  • Large pull-down map of the USA
  • Outline map of the United States for each student (see Attachment One)
  • Crayons, colored pencils
  • (optional) an overhead copy of the students' map
  • (optional) a picture of the Statue of Liberty
  • Guthrie, Woody and Arlo Guthrie. This Land Is Your Land. Rounder Kids C8050. Rounder Records Corp., 1997.
  • Guthrie, Woody and Kathy Jakobsen. This Land is Your Land. Boston: Little, Bear and Company, 1998.


  1. Anticipatory Set:Play the recording of "This Land Is Your Land" and have the class sing along. Ask: Who remembers the name of the man who wrote and sang this song?

  2. Show the last tri-fold page of the book This Land Is Your Land. Discuss what is happening in the different parts of the country. Are they doing things students might do?

  3. Woody Guthrie named many places in his song. What are some of the places that we could place on a map?

  4. Givethe student map sheets (see handout below). Using a large pull-down map of the United States as your guide, call learners up to point out the five main areas that are listed in the song (California, New York Island, Redwood Forest, Gulf Stream Waters, Desert). As a student points out where the area is located on the map, the other students should draw a picture and write the word for it on their maps. (Optional: The teacher may wish to do an overhead if students need more guidance). Continue to enlist volunteers until all five of the places have been named.

    • California: Write the state's name along the western coast. Ask students what they think of when they hear the word "California" (surfers, Disneyland, hot weather, etc.). Have the learners draw a picture of what they want to show as a symbol for California on the location of California on the map.
    • New York Island: Write the words "New York" and draw a picture of the Statue of Liberty. (Optional: If you have a picture of the Statue of Liberty it might help some children.) If the class is unfamiliar with the Statue of Liberty, they could draw skyscrapers.
    • Redwood Forest: Write words and draw trees in northern or central California.
    • Gulf Stream Waters: Write word where the Gulf of Mexico is on the map and draw waves.
    • Desert: Write the word and draw a cactus plant near Arizona or New Mexico.
  5. Ask: What is a community? (Group of people living in the same area.) Explain that the more people in the community work together, the better the community becomes. See if students can give examples of people working together in a community.

  6. Explain that a relief office is a place where people who didn't have work could get work or assistance with life needs. Where should we put a relief office on our maps? Lead the class to the conclusion that a relief office could be put anywhere on the map because every community has people who need help. Have students write relief office anywhere they choose on the map and label it. Tell them that volunteers work at a relief office (places like job centers in today's world). What is a volunteer? (A person who does something without pay to help others because they want to.)

  7. A volunteer practices philanthropy (write the word on the board). Have students pronounce it several times. Explain that philanthropy means giving of your time, talent, or treasure for the common good. Ask the following for clarification of what anyone can give. 

    • What is your time? (Recess, after school, etc.)
    • What is your talent? Can you do something well that you could share with others? (Play music, sing, rake leaves, read a story, etc.)
    • What are your treasures? (Money or possessions. You do not have to give your treasures away to do philanthropy.)
  8. Have students draw anywhere on the map pictures of themselves acting as volunteers, and write what they are doing to help others.


Use the handout scoring chart to evaluate whether students are following directions to label and illustrate thei US maps through the Song Mapping assignment. 

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.5 Recognize that volunteering requires freedom of choice.
  2. Strand PHIL.II Philanthropy and Civil Society
    1. Standard PCS 03. Philanthropy and Economics
      1. Benchmark E.11 Describe the difference between volunteer and paid labor.
    2. Standard PCS 05. Philanthropy and Government
      1. Benchmark E.1 Define community as the degree that people come together for the common good.
    3. Standard PCS 07. Skills of Civic Engagement
      1. Benchmark E.2 Discuss an issue affecting the common good in the classroom or school and demonstrate respect and courtesy for differing opinions.
  3. Strand PHIL.III Philanthropy and the Individual
    1. Standard PI 01. Reasons for Individual Philanthropy
      1. Benchmark E.1 Describe one reason why a person might give or volunteer.