Painting Pictures with Poetry

6, 7, 8

Young people discuss examples of philanthropy in poems and quotations. They write an expression of philanthropy using the poetic conventions of metaphor, simile, and personification. These statements could be used as the text for greeting cards produced for an Art from the Heart service project and given to veterans, elderly neighbors, or another identified group.

PrintOne Fifty-Five Minute Session

The learner will:

  • define “philanthropy” and find examples of philanthropic themes in quotations and poetry.
  • define and design their own metaphors and similes for philanthropy.
Teacher Preparation 

Art from the heart: Celebrate artistic talents and find a way to share these talents with others. Follow youth voices to find an organization or group of people who would appreciate a poem, greeting card, or homemade piece of art to brighten their day or let them know someone cares. This may be soldiers, veterans, elderly people in a retirement home, or a local child with a serious illness.


  1. Anticipatory Set:

    Put the following Emily Dickinson poem on the overhead or chalkboard.

    If I can stop one heart from breaking, I shall not live in vain; If I can ease one life the aching, or cool one pain, Or help one fainting robin unto his nest again, I shall not live in vain.

    Discuss what the images in the poem mean and what the overall message of the poet. Discuss how this relates to philanthropy. Review the definition of philanthropy - giving time, talent and treasure and taking action for the common good, if necessary.

  2. Review that poetry often paints visual images with conventions such as metaphor, simile, and personification.

  3. Review these conventions with examples.

    • A metaphor can be described as a figure of speech in which a thing is referred to as being something that it resembles. For example, a fierce person can be referred to as a tiger or an uncommunicative person as being as “silent as stone." A metaphor is a figure of speech that makes a comparison describing one thing as another, suggesting a likeness between them. It does not use “like” or “as.”
    • A simile is a comparison that is explicitly stated using the word “like” or “as.”
    • Personification is a figure of speech in which human qualities are attributed to an animal, object or idea.
  4. Share several of the following quotations and discuss their images and messages. How do these relate to and inspire philanthropy?

    • “As the twig is bent, so grows the tree. If I touch a life, a life will touch me. If I give someone hope, hope is given to me. As the twig is bent, so grows the tree…” David Morris
    • "Kindness is a language the dumb can speak and the deaf can hear and understand." Christian Nestell Bovee, Author (1820 - 1904)
    • “There are only two ways of spreading light—to be the candle, or the mirror that reflects it.” Edith Wharton
    • "Every charitable act is a stepping stone towards heaven." Henry Ward Beecher, American Congregational preacher (1813–1887)
    • "The fragrance always stays in the hand that gives the rose." Hada Bejar
  5. Now ask youth to write a statement about philanthropy that uses metaphor, simile or personification. One example is: Philanthropy is a big, cuddly, stuffed bear that keeps strangers warm. These statements can be reproduced as the text in cards produced for veterans or people in the community. 

Philanthropy Framework

  1. Strand PHIL.I Definitions of Philanthropy
    1. Standard DP 01. Define Philanthropy
      1. Benchmark MS.1 Define philanthropy as individuals and organizations providing their time, talent, and/or treasures intended for the common good throughout history and around the world. Give examples.
  2. Strand PHIL.II Philanthropy and Civil Society
    1. Standard PCS 01. Self, citizenship, and society
      1. Benchmark MS.4 Describe the characteristics of someone who helps others.
  3. Strand PHIL.III Philanthropy and the Individual
    1. Standard PI 01. Reasons for Individual Philanthropy
      1. Benchmark MS.4 Identify and describe the actions of how citizens act for the common good.