Sharing Compliments (1st Grade)

K, 1, 2

Students learn of the life and actions taken by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. to promote civil rights. Students give examples of Dr. King acting as a philanthropist, encouraging the children to think of ways they can impact others. Students discover that it feels good to make others feel good.

PrintOne 45 minute class period

The learner will:

  • define the terms philanthropy and compliment.
  • identify ways that Dr. King was a philanthropist.
  • identify why we celebrate and honor Dr. King.
  • identify ways that we can carry out Dr. King's dream.
  • respond appropriately when receiving a compliment.
  • reflect on how they feel when a compliment is given.
  • reflect on how they feel when they give a compliment to another person.
  • A jar containing a slip of paper for each student on which the teacher has written a specific a compliment
  • A Picture Book of Martin Luther King, Jr. by David Adler


  1. Anticipatory Set: Draw three large faces on the chalkboard or large sheets of paper, one face should be a "happy face", one a "straight mouth face" and one a "sad face". Have the faces displayed so that they are spaced apart. Ask students to remember how they felt walking into the classroom on the first day of school. Were they a little frightened or worried that they wouldn't know anyone? Then ask the students to look at the faces and to go stand by the face that best shows that feeling. Take some time to ask several students to tell why they choose that face. Then ask them to move to the face that shows how they feel about being in that classroom today. (Presumably, several students will move from the "straight" or "sad" face to the to the happy face. If everyone begins at the happy face, that's wonderful, just skip the next question and go on.) Now ask, What things happened in the classroom that caused the change? What makes this classroom a good place to be? Are there things students can say that will also make them appreciate each other?

  2. Write the word Philanthropy on the board. Ask the students to share what they think the word means. Guide them to the definition that Philanthropy means giving of a person's time, talents and/or treasure (money) for the greater good.

  3. Read the book, A Picture Book of Martin Luther King, Jr. Discuss ways that Dr. King was a philanthropist and explain why we celebrate and honor Dr. King. Discuss how Dr. King used his words to convey his messages in a peaceful way. Tell the children that today they will learn how they can carry out Dr. King's dream of using kind words to get along and work with others.

  4. Ask students if they know what it is called when someone says something nice about a person. Explain that the word is called a compliment. Discuss the meaning of the word "compliment."

  5. Discuss how it feels to receive a compliment. (Often compliments will cause people to smile and feel happy.) Stress that a compliment given to another person should be true.

  6. Remind students to say, "Thank you," after they have received a compliment.

  7. Discuss how important it is to be a part of the "classroom community." We need to care about and take care of each other. Giving compliments is an example of caring and taking care.

  8. The teacher should write a compliment to each student on a slip of paper and put it into a container. (Try to identify something unique and specific about each student.) To practice receiving compliments, the teacher will randomly pull compliments out of the container and give the compliment to the intended person. The teacher should remind the students to respond appropriately to the compliment.

  9. The teacher should then write each student's name on a piece of paper and place it in another container. Students may pull names out of the container, making sure not to get their own names. Students should write or draw a compliment to the person whose name they drew. Remind students that a compliment is something nice that will make a person feel good. Allow time for students to formulate compliments. Some students may require compliment starters such as:

    • I like you because...
    • You are a friend because...
    • Thank you for...
  10. Have students take turns paying compliments to each other in front of the class and thanking each other for the compliments.

  11. Ask students how it felt to receive a compliment.

  12. Ask students how giving a compliment to someone made them feel.

  13. Brainstorm with students ways to carry these compliments and acts of kindness into their daily activities at home, school and in the community just as Dr. King did. List their suggestions on the board and have them decide how they will share these ideas as a service project.


The teacher may observe that the students have given an appropriate compliment and appropriately received a compliment. The teacher may also ask students to explain how the giving and receiving of compliments improves the climate of the classroom and school. Provide students with a two-sided draw and write paper. The students should draw and write about two acts of kindness that they have carried out at home or in the community. Have students explain what philanthropy is to another student and allow them to share their acts of kindness.

Cross Curriculum 

Students make a plan to help someone else through an act of kindness.

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 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.5 Identify the relationship between individual rights and community responsibility.
  3. Strand PHIL.III Philanthropy and the Individual
    1. Standard PI 01. Reasons for Individual Philanthropy
      1. Benchmark E.7 Give classroom examples of when a student does not need the teacher's permission to act philanthropically.