Painting Pictures with Poetry: Art from the Heart

6, 7, 8

Students will find and discuss examples of philanthropy in poems and quotations. They will define and design statements on the theme 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 Class Period

The learner will:

  • define “philanthropy” and find examples of philanthropic themes in quotations and poetry.
  • define and design his/her own metaphors and similes for philanthropy.
  • understand and use poetic conventions of simile, metaphor and personification.

Have the students complete the following prompt to create a metaphor:
“My experience during this service project activity was like ____________ because _________________”
Have each student share his/her writing with the class.



  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.

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

  2. Tell the students that feelings are often expressed through imagery.

  3. Explain to students that poetry often paints visual images with conventions such as metaphor, simile and personification.

  4. Define the three conventions and then use the quotes from the first activity to identify examples of metaphor, simile and personification.

    • 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.
  5. Put several of the following quotations on the board and discuss their images and messages as was done with the poem.

    • “If I can help somebody as I pass along, if I can cheer somebody with a word or song, if I can show somebody he’s traveling wrong, then my living will not be in vain.” Martin Luther King, Jr.
    • “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
    • "Love of country is like love of woman—he loves her best who seeks to bestow on her the highest good." Felix Adler, American educator and leader in social welfare (1851–1933)
    • "Champions aren't made in gyms. Champions are made from something they have deep inside them—a desire, a dream, a vision. They have to have last-minute stamina, they have to be a little faster, they have to have the skill and the will. But the will must be stronger than the skill." Muhammed Ali, Boxing Champion (1942-)
    • "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
  6. Discuss: If people follow the messages of the quotations, are they automatically acting philanthropically?

  7. Tell students that they are to write a statement about philanthropy that uses metaphor, simile and personification. One example is: Philanthropy is a big, cuddly, stuffed bear that keeps strangers warm. These statements can be reproduced as banners to hand in the classroom or can be used as the text in cards produced for the Valentine’s day event.


The statements about philanthropy using metaphor, simile and personification may be used as an assessment.

Cross Curriculum 

Art from the heart: Celebrate students artistic talents and find a way to share these talents with others. Follow your students’ 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.

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.