Super Seniors

6, 7, 8

Students will discover senior citizens in history who were heroes. They will then see how senior citizens can be considered everyday heroes in the community and will determine what kinds of everyday heroes make a difference in the lives of seniors. Students will learn that they, too, can be everyday heroes by helping seniors with needed services.

Lesson Rating 
PrintOne or Two Forty-Five Minute Class Periods Plus Outside Time

The learners will:

  • identify “senior citizens” from history who were considered heroes by their country and explain why.
  • interview senior citizens and write short biographies of them.
  • explain how small acts of philanthropy contribute to the common good.

Writing materials

Home Connection 

If possible, students should also conduct an interview with a senior citizen who is a member of the family, a neighbor, a grandparent of a friend or someone from the community that they know. A short biography should also be written and an offer of service made, if circumstances permit. Students should reflect on whether their offer of service to this person should be a “one-time” offer or should be extended periodically.



  1. Anticipatory Set: Ask students to reflect on a time in history and think of famous men and women who were “senior citizens” who performed an act for their country that could be considered heroic. Tell the learners to come to the chalkboard or overhead and write the names. Discuss their heroic deeds and how their contributions contributed to the common good.

  2. Looking at senior citizens today, ask if they could be considered heroes in the community. Specifically point to the positive roles their grandparents may have played in the community or in their lives.

  3. Break students into small groups and ask them to review the core democratic value of the common good and have them explain why they think the common good is important for their community. They should specifically relate the common good to the idea of everyday heroes. Students should report their findings to the rest of the class while the teacher records answers on the board or overhead projector.

  4. Tell students that:

    • they will be interviewing senior citizens in their community to find out how an everyday hero may have affected their lives, or about their own roles as heroes in the community.
    • they will create at least five interview questions focused on a senior citizen’s role as a hero or the role an everyday hero may have played in their lives.
    • they must additionally come up with three more “follow-up” questions for the interview.
    • they will be writing short biographies of their seniors, so they should take notes.
    • they will also become everyday heroes themselves by helping at least one senior with a necessary service.
  5. Working by themselves or in small groups, have each student generate at least five interview questions. Explain what a follow-up question is and ask students to informally provide a few examples. Stress that students will actually create “follow up” questions during the interview, not before.

  6. Ask students what kinds of services they think seniors might need and list them on the board. Have students discuss what tasks would be appropriate for them to do and have them demonstrate the skills needed for completing the task. Review safety concerns regarding both the senior citizens and the students (e.g., no heavy lifting, care with breakable and personal items, etc.). Ask students what might require sensitivity on their part regarding the senior citizens (no loud talking or horseplay, no inappropriate language or handling of their possessions, etc.).

  7. After viewing this video about a man responding to music, students may be inspired to load up an MP3 player or burn a CD with music from the 30s, 40s or 50s. Sharing this music with the seniors they visit may be a service if it brightens someone's day or sparks memories and good feelings.

  8. Arrange to have students visit a senior center where a large number of senior citizens would be accessible in a short amount of time. Conduct the interviews. After the interviews, each student should volunteer to help at least one senior citizen. NOTE: Alternately, students could do this on their own, if time and circumstances permit. Make sure that the senior center is adequately informed ahead of time about the nature of the project and the kinds of services students will offer to provide.

  9. In writing, students should describe the service they performed, how performing that service made them feel, and how that service helped contribute to the common good of the community.

  10. Students should then write a short biography for the senior interviewed. These should be at least one quality paragraph, but can be as long as necessary.

  11. Have the students share their experience with the class. Have them explain how one senior could be considered a hero in the community and describe why they feel their own actions helped contribute to the common good of the community.

  12. Ask students to evaluate whether the service project was beneficial and in what ways. How might the project be changed for future service?


The short biographies of the senior citizens and presentations to the class about the experience may be used as assessments. The learners may also be asked to compare or contrast one historic senior citizen’s actions with that of a modern senior citizen who contributed/contributes to the common good of the community.

Cross Curriculum 

After interviews, students will volunteer to help a senior in some way (e.g., taking out the garbage, carrying groceries, moving a heavy item, reading to them, etc.). After viewing this video a man responding to music, students may be inspired to load up an MP3 player or burn a CD with the seniors' favorite music from the 30s, 40s or 50s. Students will help the seniors witha service and then reflect about how their acts contributed to the common good.

Philanthropy Framework

  1. 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.
      2. Benchmark MS.6 Identify and explain how fundamental democratic principles relate to philanthropic activities.
  2. Strand PHIL.IV Volunteering and Service
    1. Standard VS 03. Providing Service
      1. Benchmark MS.1 Provide a needed service.
      2. Benchmark MS.3 Describe the task and the student role.
      3. Benchmark MS.4 Demonstrate the skills needed for the successful performance of the volunteer job.
      4. Benchmark MS.5 Articulate and demonstrate the safety procedures that are part of the volunteer experience.
      5. Benchmark MS.6 Describe the procedures and the importance of sensitivity to the people with whom students are working.
    2. Standard VS 05. Integrating the Service Experience into Learning
      1. Benchmark MS.3 Identify outcomes from the service.