My Community—My World

3, 4, 5

Introduces the term philanthropy (private action for the common good) and helps students recognize the relationship between community need and private action. Students will learn the meaning of philanthropy and ways in which it occurs in the home, at school, and in the community.

Lesson Rating 
Print2-3 class periods

The learnerwill:

  • define philanthropy (private action for the common good) orally and give an example of philanthropy occurring in one or more stories read in class.
  • list one or more philanthropic activities occurring in their own home, in their classroom, and in their school.
  • look at the relationship between "community need" and private action.
  • identify, from the class discussion, a need in the community, brainstorm ways the need could be met, and then predict what might occur as a result of the action taken to fulfill the need.
  • Any social studies text defining "Community"
  • Fiction stories whose main character demonstrates philanthropy (private action for the common good). See Bibliographical References.
  • Helping Out is Cool by Ellen Feinman Moss, Tumbleweed Press, 1997.
  • student copies of Graphic Organizer 
  • student copies of Question Worksheet 
  • Cooney, Barbara. Miss Rumphius. Viking Press Paperback, 1985. ISBN: 0140505393. Lied, Kate. Potato: A Tale from the Great Depression. National Geographic Society, 1997.
  • Moss, Ellen Feinman. Helping Out is Cool. Tumbleweed Press, 1997.


  1. Anticipatory Set:Write the term "Philanthropy" on the board. As an introduction students will read one or more of the stories listed, or a story with volunteer action for the public good. Students will discuss the meaning of philanthropy, private action for the common good.

  2. Read aloud the book Helping Out is Cool.

  3. Guide a class discussion about philanthropy at home, in the classroom, and at school.

    Students list on a Graphic Organizer "philanthropic" activities that occur in their homes, in their classroom, and in their school.

  4. Students brainstorm needs in their own community and discuss ways those needs could be met through private action.

    Each student chooses one need in the community, list opportunities to fulfill the need, then predict what might result if they took action - use handout with Question Activity.


Teacher observation of student participation. Completion of the student's graphic organizer and question sheet. Notes for Teaching: Lesson one is an introduction to help students become aware of philanthropy and have them reflect on philanthropy as it occurs in their own world. Facilitate class discussion and brainstorming activity.

Cross Curriculum 

Read about the service-learning project called Upcycling GKB Library Books by Indiana students who were taught using this My Community—My World lesson to guide student learning and action.

Ms. Disque is a high school teacher from Indiana who said, "This is the first time I've done this kind of activity, but I assure you it won't be my last."


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. Standard DP 06. Role of Family in Philanthropy
      1. Benchmark E.2 Identify examples of families supporting giving and sharing.
  2. Strand PHIL.II Philanthropy and Civil Society
    1. Standard PCS 05. Philanthropy and Government
      1. Benchmark E.1 Define community as the degree that people come together for the common good.
    2. Standard PCS 07. Skills of Civic Engagement
      1. Benchmark E.1 Explore and research issues and present solutions using communication tools.
      2. Benchmark E.2 Discuss an issue affecting the common good in the classroom or school and demonstrate respect and courtesy for differing opinions.
  3. Strand PHIL.III Philanthropy and the Individual
    1. Standard PI 01. Reasons for Individual Philanthropy
      1. Benchmark E.5 Give examples of actions students can take to improve the common good and list or describe responsibilities that go with those actions.