Splish! Splash! Birdbath

3, 4, 5

By participating in a service-learning project, students will gain a greater understanding of what it means to serve for the Common Good. After learning about City Wildlife and their struggle in coexistence with humans, students will take action that will benefit our neighboring animals.

Lesson Rating 
PrintOne Fifty-Minute Class Period

The learner will:

  • define the term philanthropy.
  • discuss the meaning of volunteerism.
  • discuss citizenship and the Common Good.
  • collaborate on an action plan that will enhance the lives of animals.

Materials will vary depending on the type of project chosen. The following supplies are for beautifying an area of the school grounds in order to attract wildlife:

  • Four plastic bird baths (purchased)
  • Two small bags of sand
  • Four hanging bell-shaped bird seeds
  • A box of plastic work gloves
  • Work tools (rakes, spades, brooms, shovels, etc.)
  • Several flats of flowers (to plant near bird baths)
  • Two bags of planting soil
  • Two watering cans
  • Handout: Top Ten List
  • Handout: Unit Wrap-Up 
Home Connection 

Ask for parent volunteers to assist in the project. Send home the list of ideas on the handout Top Ten List of Things You Can Do to Help Animals.


Compassionate Action Institute Home Page, 2000, http://www.pleasebekind.com​


  1. Anticipatory Set:Write the word PHILANTHROPY on the board. Ask the students to tell you what it means. Review the meaning, if necessary (giving or sharing time, talent or treasure for the common good).

  2. Lead students in a discussion (review) of what it means to be a good citizen and why it is our responsibility to work/act for the Common Good (Core Democratic Value).

  3. Introduce the term volunteer into the discussion. What is a volunteer and what are some examples of things volunteers do? Does a volunteer give time, talent or treasure (or a combination)? How is a volunteer acting for the common good?

  4. Ask the students to think about what they have learned about City Wildlife. Do they think that animals should be included in our concept of common good? Why or why not? Brainstorm a list of volunteer efforts we can make as a group (or at home with our families) to help protect animals. Write the title of the lesson—Splish, Splash, Bird Bath—on the board and use it to help direct the students toward a service-learning project related to birds.

  5. In this project, the goals are to beautify school grounds, provide food and water for small wildlife, and give back to the environment by planting greenery. Help students plan activities and jobs, and select the day the work will be completed.

  6. When the project plans are complete, discuss the costs, supplies, measurements and opportunity costs involved. Ask the students to think about what they could be doing with their time, talent and treasure rather than working on this project. Use this information to congratulate them on their good citizenship and raise their sense of pride and ownership in the project.

  7. This project may be modified if necessary, depending upon budget. This can become a school wide or grade level project.


Have students review their own work with the self-assessment provided. See Attachment Two: Unit Wrap-Up. Review with the students the five essential questions for the unit that were written on the board in Lesson One: Exploring the Neighborhood – Literature Jigsaw. 1) Can humans and animals coexist in the same habitat? 2) If so, are there dangers that exist? For whom? 3) What is a community? 4) What do humans and wildlife share? 5) What is Common Good? Does it include wildlife?

Cross Curriculum 

Students participate in a service-learning project in which they clean up and beautify the school grounds. As a cooperative group, they plant flowers and place birdbaths and feeders in strategic areas on school grounds.

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. Strand PHIL.II Philanthropy and Civil Society
    1. Standard PCS 03. Philanthropy and Economics
      1. Benchmark E.3 Give examples of <i>opportunity cost</i> in philanthropic giving.
      2. Benchmark E.5 Recognize the wise use of resources as <i>stewardship</i>.
  3. Strand PHIL.IV Volunteering and Service
    1. Standard VS 02. Service and Learning
      1. Benchmark E.1 Select a service project based on interests, abilities, and research.
    2. Standard VS 03. Providing Service
      1. Benchmark E.3 Describe the task and the student role.
    3. Standard VS 05. Integrating the Service Experience into Learning
      1. Benchmark E.3 Identify outcomes from the service.