Poetry for the Common Good

K, 1, 2

Students will understand that you find poetry everywhere: lyrics to songs, commercials and rap. They will also realize that themes of giving are often found in poetry. Students will write poems with giving themes. Sharing their poems is considered an act of generosity. Students may share their work as they build a relationship with someone who is living in a retirement home.

Lesson Rating 
PrintOne or Two 45-Minute Class Periods

The learner will:

  • define “poetry.”
  • define “philanthropy” as giving time, talent, or treasure for the common good.
  • identify elements of poetry in musical lyrics, printed materials, commercials and rap songs.
  • student copies of the handout Forms for Poetic Reflection
  • Teacher selected grade-appropriate examples of poetry

After the service and learning, students make a collage of words and images and colors to represent their feelings and the impact of their involvement.



International Child Art Foundation


  1. Anticipatory Set:

    Ask the students what poetry is and to give examples of poetry they know. Define poetry for the learners as "A piece of writing that has a rhythm in the verse and sometimes rhyming. It often uses words that are very specific, descriptive and vivid." 

    Ask students where poetry can be found. Examples: books (Mother Goose, Shel Silversein), songs (rap, Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star), television (jingles.) 

  2. Share several examples of different kinds of poetry with the students and talk about the word play -- rhyme and alliteration. Tell them that poetry makes pictures with words.

  3. Tell the students that sometimes people give gifts of poetry to communicate feelings. The gifts may be to loved ones or to a community. There is often a poet at ceremonies who communicates strong feelings about the subject of the gathering. Define or review the definition of philanthropy with the students (sharing of one’s time, talent and treasure and taking action for the common good). Talk about when poetry may be a gift. 

    Ask why or when "giving" or "philanthropy" might be the subject of a poem itself. Maybe a gift to the world is a poem about something in nature that one loves. 

  4. Give students time to think of someone or something they would like to write a poem for. Discuss some of their ideas. 

  5. Select the form of poetry to be written ahead of time depending upon the level of your students, or allow individual students or groups to select what they would like to do - the acrostic (simple), cinquain (more difficult), haiku (medium).

  6. You may choose to give students a list of words associated with giving or have the class brainstorm a class list of words. These words could be used as the basis for acrostic poems or as words in cinquain and haiku poems. Model how to write the type of poem selected or the three types using the handout: Poetic Forms.

  7. Students may work independently or in small groups to write the poems. Allow individuals or groups to collaborate with each other and share ideas during the work session.

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 E.1 Define philanthropy as the giving and sharing of time, talent, or treasure intended for the common good.