My Community—My World

3, 4, 5

This lesson introduces the term philanthropy (private action for the common good) and helps youth recognize the relationship between community need and private action. Youth learn the meaning of philanthropy and ways in which it occurs in the home, at school, and in the community.

Lesson Rating 
PrintOne 45-Minute Class Session

The learner will:

  • define philanthropy (private action for the common good) and give an example of philanthropy occurring in one or more stories read in class, in their own home, in their classroom, and in their school.
  • analyze the relationship between "community need" and private action.
  • identify a need in the community and brainstorm ways the need could be addressed.
  • social studies text defining "community"
  • Helping Out is Cool by Ellen Feinman Moss
  • copies of Graphic Organizer and Question Worksheet 
  • online description of SMART goals 
Home Connection 

Using the Question Activity handout, choose one need in the community and list opportunities to fulfill the need. Then predict what might result if they took action

  • 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. Read aloud a picture book that illustrates the concept (see Bibliography) and discuss the meaning of philanthropy (giving time, talent, or treasure for the common good) and who can be a philanthropist (everyone). 

  2. Guide a discussion about examples of philanthropy. Using the Graphic Organizer as an anchor chart, list philanthropic activities that may occur in their homes, classrooms, and school.

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

  3. Brainstorm needs observed in their own community (related to literacy, poverty, recreation, animals, etc.) and discuss ways those needs could be met through generosity.

    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.

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.