Seems Like a Million Bucks

K, 1, 2

In the book, Sam and the Lucky Money, we observe Sam as he makes a difficult decision between what he wants and what he knows is right. The children explore the benefits and costs of giving.

Print30-Minute Session

The learners will:

  • give examples of wants and needs.
  • identify places in the community that help people who are homeless.
  • read-aloud copy of Sam and the Lucky Money
  • magazine or other pictures related to wants and needs (food, toys, house, clothes, etc.)
  • Chim, Karen. Sam and the Lucky Money. New York: Lee and Low Books Inc., 1997. ISBN: 1880000539


  1. Anticipatory Set:

    Talk about what the children think they could do with four dollars. Brainstorm a list of ideas. Encourage them to think of a wide range of ideas from selfish to selfless, from practical to impractical, from healthy to unhealthy. Then ask them to silently pick their favorite or most likely choice. Tell them that you are going to read a story about a boy who has that choice. Ask them to listen to how the boy makes his decision.

  2. Show the book, Sam and the Lucky Money. Point out the title on the front. Then show the Chinese characters on the back. They stand for “Lucky Money.” Ask them to listen to this story and decide if this story is set in China. Read the story and discuss the following questions:

    • Where does the story take place, and what are the clues? 
    • What did Sam want to spend his money on at first and why did he change his mind?
    • How does Sam feel about giving his lucky money to the old man? 
    • How does he feel about the man after he gives him the money? (He has respect for him.)
  3. Discuss the difference between wants and needs. Show some pictures of things and services and ask them to identify or sort them into wants and needs. Ask them to define needs (things you need for survival: food, shelter, clothing). 

    Name some organizations that help people who are homeless. Talk about what a nonprofit organization is. 

Philanthropy Framework

  1. Strand PHIL.I Definitions of Philanthropy
    1. Standard DP 01. Define Philanthropy
      1. Benchmark E.4 Define and give examples of selfishness and selflessness.
      2. Benchmark E.5 Define the terms "profit" and "not-for-profit."
    2. Standard DP 02. Roles of Government, Business, and Philanthropy
      1. Benchmark E.2 Explain the difference between wants and needs.
    3. Standard DP 03. Names and Types of Organizations within the Civil Society Sector
      1. Benchmark E.2 Name an example of a civil society charitable organization.
  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.
      2. Benchmark E.4 Demonstrate listening skills.
    2. Standard PCS 07. Skills of Civic Engagement
      1. Benchmark E.2 Discuss an issue affecting the common good in the classroom or school and demonstrate respect and courtesy for differing opinions.
  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.9 Give examples how people give time, talent or treasure in different cultures.