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 philanthropic themes are often found in poetry. Students will write poems with philanthropic themes. Sharing their poems is considered an act of philanthropy. Students may share their work as they build a relationship with someone who is living in a retirement home.

Lesson Rating 
PrintOne Sixty-Minute or Two Thirty-Minute Class Periods

The learner will:

  • define “poetry.”
  • define “philanthropy” and find examples of philanthropic themes in poetry.
  • identify elements of poetry in musical lyrics, printed materials, commercials and rap songs.
  • examine the idea that the students' talents can be combined with the arts as a form of philanthropy.
  • student copies of the handout Forms for Poetic Reflection
  • Teacher selected grade appropriate examples of poetry
  • Paper (scrap and writing appropriate)
  • Pencils
  • Thesaurus

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. http://www.icaf.org/about/ accessed 1.21.2011


  1. Anticipatory Set:

    On board write the word “poetry”. Ask students if they know what this word means.Allow time for students to think and respond. Define “poetry” for the learners (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 if they know where poetry can be found. Be sure to include that poetry can be found anywhere; books (Mother Goose, Shel Silversein), songs (rap, Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star), television (jingles.) Tell students “Poets” are people who write poetry. Ask them if they know of any poets.Allow time for thought and answers.Move on to say that anyone can be a poet and in fact we are going to become poets today.As we said before, poetry can be found in many places.

  2. You will need to collect several examples of different kinds of poetry to have to share with the students: Theme songs from movies, commercials, nursery rhymes, etc. to share with the students.

  3. You may choose to write or print examples where students can reference them. After the conclusion of the examples, tell students that poetry is painting pictures and creating sounds with words. Elaborate if necessary.

  4. 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). Discuss how it relates to the common good of the community by working together with other members for the greater benefit of all.

  5. Ask these questions: Could a poet use the subjects of giving and sharing (philanthropy) in their poems? Could a poet influence how people feel about giving and sharing by writing about them in their poems? Tell the students that they are all poets and that they will be writing about giving and sharing for the common good to help others understand philanthropy and want to be philanthropists also. Their poems, when shared, are acts of philanthropy.

  6. 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).

  7. 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 Handout One: Poetic Forms.

  8. 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.