Powerful Words Can Warm the Heart

3, 4, 5

The purpose of this lesson is to show that artists are a valuable part of a community and to explore how they contribute to the public good.

Lesson Rating 
PrintOne 30 to 45 minute class period

The learner will:

  • identify things that people need and want in a community.
  • identify how characters in a story meet their needs and wants.
  • identify ways that the arts help meet the needs of people in their own community.
  • Frederick by Leo Lionni
  • Chart paper and marker
  • Paper
  • Crayons, markers, colored pencils, pencils, etc.

Have the students share what chores they are responsible for doing around their home.  Record these responses on a display board for all to see.  Lead the students in a discussion that explores why doing these chores might be helpful to everyone in the family; how they contribute to the “common good” of the family.  Lead the students in a discussion that explores the importance of doing their “chores” as a member of the community; why taking part in service might be helpful to their community.

  • International Child Art Foundation. https://www.icaf.org/about/ accessed 1.21.2011

  • Lionni, Frederick.  Leo Knopf Books for Young Readers.  Reissue edition (May 12, 1967).  ISBN: 0394810406


  1. Anticipatory Set:

    Ask students to identify all the things they can think of that people need and want in a community. Create a list to use later in the lesson. Guide the students to include general categories of items. (i.e. food, as opposed to specific kinds of foods) However, accept the examples that students offer. When you feel you have an adequate list, tell them that they are going to hear a story about a community. They should look for ways in which the community members meet the needs and wants of the community.

  2. Read the story, Frederick, by Leo Lionni.

  3. Ask students if they noticed any of the needs or wants from the class-generated list included the story. Ask them if there were any needs or wants mentioned in the story that the class would like to add to the list. (By the end of this part of the lesson, the need or want for “art”, “poetry” or “entertainment” should be included on the list.)

  4. Divide students into pairs or small groups and assign them items from the list. They are to tell whether they noticed those needs or wants in the story. Then, they are to tell if the needs or wants were met by the characters in the story and how they were met. They are also to decide on the consequence of meeting or not meeting the community’s need or want.

  5. Groups share their observations with the class.

  6. Ask students if they were surprised by how important Frederick’s contribution turned out to be to the community. Ask them if they can think of any ways in which art helps to meet the needs of their communities. (Examples might include murals and sculptures in public spaces, storytellers, knitters who make hats and scarves for the students at the school, musicians at church, marching bands in parades, etc.)

  7. Tell the students that they will draw a picture that shows an example of art in the community that is there for the common good. They are to write captions for their pictures that describe what is going on and how the art benefits the public. (For example, “This mural helps build community pride. There is less graffiti in the neighborhood now that we have this mural.” “My little brother listens to the storyteller at the library when we go to pick out books. The children learn new stories and their big brothers and sisters get to look for their books without interruption.” “Marching bands perform in the Memorial Day parade. They honor the sacrifices of the members of the armed forces.”)

  8. Students’ work may be displayed on a bulletin board with the appropriate headings or may be bound into a class book.

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.
      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.6 Explain why acting philanthropically is good for the community, state, nation, or world.
    3. Standard DP 04. Operational Characteristics of Nonprofit Organizations
      1. Benchmark E.1 Describe how citizens organize in response to a need.
  2. Strand PHIL.II Philanthropy and Civil Society
    1. Standard PCS 02. Diverse Cultures
      1. Benchmark E.4 Demonstrate listening skills.