George Washington Carver and Sharing Our Books

K, 1, 2

Students read and respond to a book about George Washington Carver and his contributions to science. They recognize that contributions to the common good may be in the form of time, talent, or treasure. They share their contribution of books from their book drive or other service project.

PrintTwo Thirty-Minute Class Periods, plus time to distribute books

The learner will:

  • read and respond to the book A Weed Is a Flower.
  • list major contributions made by George Washington Carver.
  • define philanthropy as giving or sharing time, talent, or treasure and taking action for the common good.
  • share the collected books with the partner school or organization.
  • reflect on the service project.
  • peanuts in the shell (at least one per student)
  • read aloud copy of A Weed Is a Flower: The Life of George Washington Carver (see Bibliographical References)
  • printed stickers for the inside of each donated book--Prepare stickers in advance with the following text that explains the pay it forward concept of Read and Give.
    • Sticker text: Read and Give 1. Read this book. 2. Write your name on this sticker. 3. Give the book to someone else. [provide lines for student names.]
  • beach ball and permanent marker (see Teacher Preparation)
  • Arts Extension: Audio CD - Rafffi: Singable Songs for the Very Young (see Bibliographical References)
Teacher Preparation 

Write words randomly on the beach ball:

  • like
  • learn 
  • feel
  • good 
  • team
  • better
  • Aliki. A Weed is a Flower: The Life of George Washington Carver. New York: Simon and Schuster, 1985. ISBN: 0671664905.
  • Raffi. Singable Songs for the Very Young: Great with a Peanut Butter Sandwich. Troubador Records Ltd., 1976. ISBN: 1-886767-30-0.


  1. Anticipatory Set:

    Gather the children and distribute peanuts to them. (Warning: Be sure no students in the class are allergic to peanuts!) Have the children eat the peanuts. Ask the children if they know how peanuts are grown and what they are good for other than eating. After they respond, tell them you are going to read a story about a very important man whose work was very important to us all. Read A Weed is a Flower by Aliki.

  2. Synopsis: The book is about the life of George Washington Carver. It begins with his childhood and describes his love of science, especially plants. The book explains how he learned about plants by taking care of other peoples' gardens. Through the use of his scientific mind, he developed many methods for farming and machinery that helped people then and now. The last line of the book says volumes: "George Washington Carver, with his goodness and devotion, helped not only his own people, but all peoples of the world."

  3. After reading the story, discuss Mr. Carver's work with peanuts. Focus on his generous sharing of ideas, which led to many contributions to society. Ask students to identify and list some of the major contributions made by George Washington Carver. (Some are in the story, and you will want to add others.) Ask students why we are all better off because of the inventions of Carver. What kind of person was he? How does his work make him a better citizen? How is his work considered philanthropy?

  4. Define philanthropy as giving time, talent, or treasure for the common good. Ask the students what they are contributing in their book drive (treasure and time) or literacy activities (time and talent).

  5. Based on the reading and personal experience, ask students to explain why acting philanthropically is good for the community, state, or nation.

  6. Day Two

  7. Tell the students that this is the day they share their donated books. Ask them how they feel about what they have done and what they will do today.

  8. Provide book stickers for the inside of the books (see Materials). Have students put stickers in all the books. If they read and donated a book, their name should be first on the sticker.

  9. Students box up all the books to prepare for presentation to the partner organization.

    • Option One: If a representative from the partner organization comes to school, have the representative speak to the class about how the books will be used.
    • Option Two: If students will be meeting one-on-one with children the partner organization and reading with other children:
    1. Introduce the students as a whole group.
    2. Allow the recipients to select a book of their choice from the box of books containing the books with student-made covers.It is helpful to spread out the books so they can see their choices clearly.
    3. Pair students together based on the students' book selection. Have the partners read together.
    4. Complete any planned activities together.
    5. If time permits, students can rotate or select another book to read together.
  10. Reflection Activity: Put students into a large circle. (They will be tossing the beach ball to each other.)

    • Show the students the beach ball with words written on it, and read the words out loud.
    • Explain to students that they will toss the ball around the circle. As they catch the ball, they read the word that their right index finger is touching.The person who catches the ball says something about the service project using that word. Then he or she throws the ball to someone else. It is okay to have different students respond to the same word.
    • Allow students to participate until each student has reflected.
    • Following the reflection activity, acknowledge the success of the service project with a celebration. Celebration activities will vary, based on the project plan, but can include a pizza party, ice cream social, a snack, etc.
    • If community partners participated in the project, they may be invited to the celebrationand share their feelings about the activity.

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 02. Roles of Government, Business, and Philanthropy
      1. Benchmark E.6 Explain why acting philanthropically is good for the community, state, nation, or world.
  2. Strand PHIL.II Philanthropy and Civil Society
    1. Standard PCS 02. Diverse Cultures
      1. Benchmark E.2 Discuss the importance of respect for others.
  3. Strand PHIL.III Philanthropy and the Individual
    1. Standard PI 01. Reasons for Individual Philanthropy
      1. Benchmark E.1 Describe one reason why a person might give or volunteer.
      2. Benchmark E.4 Give an example of how citizens act for the common good.
  4. Strand PHIL.IV Volunteering and Service
    1. Standard VS 05. Integrating the Service Experience into Learning
      1. Benchmark E.3 Identify outcomes from the service.