Love Letters to the World

3, 4, 5

Giving homemade blankets to help people who are homeless or children who are in the hospital is a form of philanthropy (giving treasure). Using a decision-making model, the students compare blanket projects and determine whether they have the time, talent, and treasure to help fill a need. They determine what their opportunity cost will be to participate in the project. Finally they will vote for the project of their choice.

— Bob Keeshan, also known as Captain Kangaroo, said, "ABC Quilts are love letters to the world."

Lesson Rating 
PrintOne Forty-Five Minute Class Period

The learner will:

  • compare blanket projects and make and explain a personal choice.
  • identify opportunity cost in personal decision making.

Decision Making Model (see handout)

  • Project Linus
  • contact local hospitals (include youth psych hospitals) to inquire about guidelines for blankets for youth
  • search for another project, such as blanket packs for people who are homeless


  1. Anticipatory Set: Brainstorm words students associate with blanket. This may bring to mind words like warmth, comfort, protection, love. 

    Summarize their brainstorming and ask whether a blanket would be a good gift for someone who is homeless or lonely or ill to remind them they are cared for.

  2. Share information about philanthropy related to blankets. For example, children with serious illness that stay overnight at the hospital may be given a donated blanket. Talk about how that gift may feel to this child. Or, a person sleeping on the street may be given a sleeping bag with no questions asked. 

    See the bibliography to look at their websites and compare blanket projects with the students.

    Ask the students to share their feelings, thoughts, and prior knowledge about giving blankets. Ask them if they want to do a blanket project together. 

  3. Talk about different ways to make blankets: piecing scraps into quilts, using fleece, or other method. Discuss whether they have the collective time, talent, and materials to make several blankets as a class.


  4. Tell the students that you are going to help them use a "decision-making model" to decide which blanket project they will do as a class.

  5. Part of the decision process is understanding opportunity cost. Explain that it refers to "the next best alternative that must be given up when a choice is made." For example, if I choose cereal for breakfast, my next best alternative I give up is eggs. Explain that it does not refer to every alternative--just the next best choice (opportunity). Practice this concept by having students decide what opportunity costs are to the every day decisions they make.

    What is the opportunity cost when I choose (use examples meaningful to your students) ...

    • to do homework (give up time playing a game)
    • to watch TV (give up going for a walk)
  6. As a whole class use the Decision Making Model (handout below) to compare three projects (donate to local hospirtal, Project Linus, and a blanket pack for people who are homeless). This model helps us make a thoughtful choice based on facts and resources. They will determine the opportunity cost for participating in each (giving up recess or classroom free time, donating a piece of clothing, etc.). Refer to the websites and call the local hospital so students have all the facts. 

  7. After completing the decision-making model, vote for the project of their choice.

  8. If they are making a quilt with used clothing, students will bring in a piece of old discarded clothing (preferably 100% woven cotton) to cut up and use in the quilt. They may write a letter explaining the project and requesting the use of a piece of old clothing. This is a chance to teach parts of a friendly letter. The letter should have the date, a greeting, at least two complete sentences explaining the project, one complete sentence asking permission to bring an item of clothing, a closing, and the signature.


Assess the friendly letter for the essential parts. 

Philanthropy Framework

  1. Strand PHIL.II Philanthropy and Civil Society
    1. Standard PCS 07. Skills of Civic Engagement
      1. Benchmark E.3 Participate in acts of democratic citizenship in the classroom or school, such as voting, group problem solving, classroom governance or elections.
  2. Strand PHIL.IV Volunteering and Service
    1. Standard VS 01. Needs Assessment
      1. Benchmark E.1 Identify a need in the school, local community, state, nation, or world.