The Making of a Good Friend (Private-Religious)

3, 4, 5

Using a traditional Jewish text as its basis, this lesson emphasizes the importance of sharing in a relationship.

Lesson Rating 
PrintTwo forty minute periods

The learner will:

  • become familiar with Pirkei Avot (Ethics of the Fathers).
  • evaluate the actions of others.
  • write a collaborative poem with a partner.
  • "The Worst and the Best" worksheet (see Handout One)
  • Text of Pirkei Avot 5:13 (see Handout Two)
  • "Sharing Scenarios" (see Handout Three)
  • Joyful Noise: Poems for Two Voices, by Paul Fleischman
Home Connection 

Instruct students to write a poem for two voices with a sibling or parent. The poem should be about sharing in a family.


Joyful Noises: Poems for Two Voices, by Paul Fleischman, HarperCollins Juvenile Books, 1992. ISBN: 0064460932

Pirkei Avot


  1. Anticipatory Set:

    Give students a list of the descriptions of the four types of people listed in Pirkei Avot 5:13. (See Handout One) Ask them to number them in terms of which sounds like a better friend. The one that sounds like the best type of friend gets a 1, and so on. Have a few students volunteer to explain their answers.

  2. Explain that a rabbi gave his opinion on this matter in a book called Pirkei Avot, or Ethics of the Fathers. Read the text from Pirkei Avot (see Handout Two) and compare the rabbi’s order to the class’s order.

  3. Discuss why sharing is important. Some answers may include that it makes people feel better, it requires fewer resources, it’s more fun, it’s a good way to meet people, it saves money, it saves people time, etc.

  4. Ask volunteers to read or role-play the scenarios found in Handout Three. After each scenario, ask the students which category these students fit into. Then ask them to describe how it would feel to be in each of these scenarios. Stress how good sharing makes everyone involved feel about themselves.

  5. Tell the class that they are going to work with a partner to write poetry about sharing. They are going to write a special type of poem called a "poem in two voices". Explain that they are each going to have a voice in the poem, but they will be speaking about the same topic on the same page.

  6. Read a couple of poems from Paul Fleischman’s book Joyful Noise: Poems for Two Voices to give the students examples.

  7. Give students time to write the poem with their partners.

  8. Have the partners read their poems out loud so the class can hear the full effect of the two voices. Discuss how it felt to share ideas and work together.


Assess students based on your observations, their comments during discussion, and evaluate their performance on the poems that they write with their partners.

Philanthropy Framework

  1. 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.