Flowering Philanthropy

K, 1, 2

Within this lesson, students take volunteer action for the common good by improving the beauty of the community and acting as stewards for the environment. Through reflection, students recognize the benefits of service learning to the giver as well as to the recipient. Students develop a sense of responsibility, a sense of purpose, and build on their self esteem.

Lesson Rating 
PrintOne- to two-hour field trip to planting location; two or three class periods for reflection and presentations

The learner will:

  • plant flowers for others and attend to the needs of the flowers.
  • summarize the experience and reflect on the value of philanthropy through drawing, discussing, and/or writing about three benefits of philanthropy for both the recipient and the giver.
  • Musical pieces about flowers, such as “Waltz of the Flowers” from Tchaikovsky’s Nutcracker Suite
  • Fieldtrip Supplies:
    • At least one flowering plant for each student (suggest marigolds for rapid growth)
    • One trowel for every four students
    • Potting soil
    • Watering cans for every eight students
  • Reflection and Assessment:
    • Drawing paper
    • Pencils, crayons, oil pastels, paint, construction paper, scissors for choices in artwork
    • Graphic Organizer (See Attachment One)
    • Writing paper
  • Tchaikovsky, Pyotr Il’yich. “The Waltz of the Flowers,” Nutcracker. Angel Classics, 1999. ASIN: B0000IZSXE (This is just one of many recordings available of this classic.)


  1. Anticipatory Set:

    Play flower-related music, such as “Waltz of the Flowers” by Tchaikovsky. Talk about the importance of art and beauty in our lives. Review the basic “needs” of people and the “wants” that make our lives better.

  2. Review the reasons why the class is going to plant flowers for others at the agreed-upon location. Review the definition of philanthropy. Review the idea that it is our responsibility to act philanthropically.

    • Students go on a field trip to the planting location. Bring the appropriate supplies.
    • Each student uses a trowel to dig a hole in the soil, gently place flower roots down in the soil and water the plants. Talk about how they will be cared for and by whom. Review the needs of plants.
    • If possible, students briefly visit with recipients of flowers.
  3. Upon return from planting the flowers, play calming music that elicits thoughts of flowers and other plants, and encourage students to spend a few moments reflecting on the experience of planting flowers for others.

    • Students draw a picture, with their choice of materials, based on their feelings about planting flowers for others.
    • Students display their drawings on their tables for all to see, and take a walk around to see others’ artwork. They return to their seats to discuss their drawings in small groups.
    • Ask the following discussion questions about the value of philanthropy: What did you learn? How did you feel when you planted flowers for other people? How would you feel if someone planted flowers for you? Would you do something like this again? Describe how we helped others. How did this help you?
    • Use the Graphic Organizer to write about the experience of planting flowers for others. In the main part of the flower, the students write the main idea, such as “planting flowers.” In the leaves, they write the benefits of the experience to both the giver and receiver. For younger students, you may supply the main idea and have students draw pictures or dictate their details. Older students use their completed graphic organizer as a tool to write an organized paragraph about their experience planting flowers for others.
    • Have each student share his or her drawings and/or writing with the rest of the class. This may take additional class periods.
Cross Curriculum 

Students will plant flowers for the benefit of others. The location was determined in Lesson Two: Friendly Flowers, based on a consensus using the following criteria: permission from recipients, space for plants to grow, visibility and access to getting their needs met. Locations may include the school grounds, a community park, a retirement home, a house built by Habitat for Humanity, a homeless shelter or mission house.

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. Benchmark E.3 Recognize that citizens have a responsibility for the common good as defined by democratic principles.
    2. Standard DP 02. Roles of Government, Business, and Philanthropy
      1. Benchmark E.2 Explain the difference between wants and needs.
      2. Benchmark E.6 Explain why acting philanthropically is good for the community, state, nation, or world.
  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.
      2. Benchmark E.2 Identify why people practice philanthropy related to their own self-interest.