K, 1, 2

Young people listen to a story, summarize the main idea, and then act it out together. They identify the theme of community and describe the benefits of cooperation for the common good. 

PrintOne 45-Minute Session
  • summarize and act out a story
  • explain the benefits of volunteering for the common good
  • read aloud copy of Swimmy by Leo Lionni 

Lionni, Leo. Swimmy. Knopf (Paperback), 1992. ISBN: 0394826205.


  1. Anticipatory Set:

    Review the definition of community from the previous lesson. Ask if anyone knows what a "community" of fish is called (school). Tell the children they will be listening to a story about a school of fish. Tell them to listen carefully because after they listen to the story they will be acting out the story so they must pay attention to the characters' actions and attitudes.

    Note: You may define community as not just their town but also anytime people gather with a shared interest. For example a faith-based organization forms a community. A sports team is a community. A family or classroom forms a community. Ask for examples of communities the children belong in.

  2. Read the story Swimmy by Leo Lionni. Swimmy, the little black fish and lone survivor in a school of red ones, devises an ingenious cooperative scheme for protecting a new school of fish friends, as they work together in community. 

  3. Discuss the main character. Name his needs/wants and problem, and how he goes about solving the problem. Discuss how forming a community was good for all. 

  4. Together, discuss and write the beginning, middle, and ending of the story. Discuss and write the theme and main idea. From this summary, talk about how the group can act out this story together. Assign parts for the children to act out and let them come up with the dialogue. 

  5. Ask what they can do for their "school" or community that would benefit everyone in it.

Philanthropy Framework

  1. Strand PHIL.II Philanthropy and Civil Society
    1. Standard PCS 01. Self, citizenship, and society
      1. Benchmark E.3 Describe a benefit of group cooperation.
    2. Standard PCS 05. Philanthropy and Government
      1. Benchmark E.1 Define community as the degree that people come together for the common good.
  2. 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.