Goofy Glossary

6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12

Youth Activity: This interactive activity helps young people understand philanthropy and the language used when describing philanthropic actions. The facilitator sets the tone for a “fun” experience with words.

Print45 minutes

The youth will:

  • practice using the language of philanthropy. 
  • discuss forms of  philanthropy.
  • dictionaries
  • newsprint
  • markers
  • index cards
Teacher Preparation 

Make index cards with the following vocabulary words (one word per card).

  • philanthropy 
  • reciprocity 
  • experiential 
  • volunteer 
  • philanthropist 
  • core values 
  • nonprofit sector
Home Connection 

Let each participant take one of the words home. Tell them to pass the card around at the dinner table or some place where the family and/or friends are gathered. Ask them how they would define the word. Add their definition to the one discussed.

The facilitator leads the discussion with the following questions: 
  1. Have you ever used any of these words before? Have you heard them being used? If so, how were they used? 
  2. In your own words, “What does philanthropy mean?” 
  3. Use the word in a sentence you will share with the group. How would you explain the word to a 5- or 6-year-old?


  1. The facilitator asks each participant to sound out the word on an index card, trace it with a finger, and silently spell the word. The facilitator asks the participants to exchange the card for a different word with someone else in the room and follow the same process. The participants ask each other what they think the definition might be. 
  2. The facilitator brings the group back together and has them form small groups of 3 to 4. Each group is given one of the words and a dictionary. The facilitator asks each group to pick a recorder who will record the definition first as it appears in the dictionary and then the group’s definition of that word (in their own words).

  3. While the groups are working, the facilitator writes the word philanthropy across several pieces of newsprint taped together to form a banner and places this in front of the room. When the facilitator sees that the groups have finished, he/she brings them back to large group and asks them to share their word with the rest of the group. 

  4. The recorder says the word, gives the dictionary definition, and gives the group’s definition and tapes the word and definition on the philanthropy banner. Each group follows until all words are placed. Facilitator explains that the group has completed their own “glossary” of words. The groups may discuss how to arrange the words in a display order that makes sense (alphabetical is one option).

  5. Discuss the reflection questions (above).

  6. Variation:
    Facilitator might want to begin the exercise by playing a guessing game with the words. Put participants into groups of 3 and give each small group the words. Ask them to guess what they think the words mean. Clues can be given from the participants in the small groups.