Small Actions with Big Results (5th Grade)

3, 4, 5

This lesson will expose learners to philanthropy in three different genres of literature: a play, a fable, and a parable. Through the genres the students will learn about community, helping others by addressing a need and philanthropic acts.

Lesson Rating 
PrintOne Forty-Five Minute Class Period

The learner will:

  • analyze what comprises a community.
  • identify philanthropic acts.
  • compare and contrast these acts in three different situations.
  • take a stand and defend his/her viewpoint on who can perform a needed service for the community.
  • Aesop’s, The Lion and the Mouse. Aesops_Fables/The_Lion_and_the_Mouse_p1.html
  • “The Good San Franciscan” (the parable of “The Good Samaritan” as retold by Joyce Rogers) (Handout One)
  • “Someone Should” (a short play based on “The Good Samaritan” written by Joyce Rogers) (Handout Two)
  • Matrix for comparing and contrasting the three pieces of literature (Handout Three)

Reflect on ways that young people are good at giving. Reflect on ways that giving can be difficult for adults. 


A copy of Aesop's Fable, The Lion and the Mouse
Page By Page Books


  1. Anticipatory Set:

    Explain to the class that they will be studying three different pieces of literature that were written or told in different times and places. Explain that each piece of literature represents a different “genre.” Ask the learners from what language they think the word “genre” comes. (French) Tell the students that even though there will be three stories, the stories will have a theme, moral or lesson in common that can be compared and contrasted.

  2. Tell the students that you will be reading them three short stories. Post the comparison chart in Handout Four, “Comparing the Stories,” and tell the students that for each of the stories they will be listening for the answers to these same questions and comparing the stories. Read the questions with the students.

  3. Beginning with Aesop’s fable “The Lion and the Mouse,” answer the questions on the chart. Possible Question Responses:

    • What is the need?( Freedom from captivity)
    • Who has the need? (The lion)
    • Who is in the community?( The whole jungle)
    • Who fills the need?( The mouse)
    • What talent or treasure was given? ( The mouse used his talent of gnawing to help the lion)
    • What did it cost to give? ( The mouse risked having the hunters come back before he was done)
    • What benefit does the community experience from that giving or sharing? (The lion received freedom because of the mouse.)
    • What is the reward for the one or ones who shared? (The mouse and the lion became unlikely friends.)
    • What would have happened if the need had not been met? (The lion would be taken captive for the rest of his life.)
  4. Follow the same steps for The Good San Franciscan (Handout One) and Someone Should (Handout Two).

  5. The Good San Franciscan Possible responses are:

  6. What is the need? (The need was medical aid.)

  7. Who has the need? (Roger Walters had the need.)

  8. Who is in the community? (The whole population of San Francisco, especially those driving along the freeway, was in the community.)

  9. Who fills the need? (Julio Sanchez)

  10. What talent or treasure was given? (Julio shared time, effort, and twenty dollars.)

  11. What did it cost to give? (Julio’s time, which made him get home later after a long day, and money of which he had little.)

  12. What benefit does the community experience from that giving or sharing? (The whole community experienced a healing because of what Julio did.)

  13. What is the reward for the one or ones who shared? (Julio was rewarded by knowing he did the right thing.)

  14. What would have happened if the need had not been met? (If Julio hadn’t stopped to help, Mr. Walters might not have recovered from the robbery and beating.)

  15. Possible question responses:

  16. What is the need? (The hall was a big mess and needed cleaning up.)

  17. Who has the need? ( The whole school had the need to have a clean building)

  18. Who is in the community? (The community included the teachers, administrators and students.)

  19. Who fills the need? (The kindergartner filled the need.)

  20. What talent or treasure was given? (The talent of picking up the mess was shared by the kindergartner.)

  21. What did it cost to give? (It cost time and effort.)

  22. What benefit does the community experience from that giving or sharing? (The community had a nice clean and tidy hallway.)

  23. What is the reward for the one or ones who shared? (The kindergartner just felt good that he/she did the right thing.)

  24. What would have happened if the need had not been met? (The hall would have gotten messier.)

  25. Once learners have completed the exercise for each piece of literature, ask them if there were any comparisons or contrasts that could be made. The learners should come to realize that in each piece of literature one character made a difference by practicing philanthropy. Have the learners describe the character who gave of their time, talent or treasure in each of the readings. The one character in each of the readings who acted philanthropically was small, meek, and not so powerful.

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. Benchmark E.4 Define and give examples of selfishness and selflessness.