United We Are

K, 1, 2

In this lesson, students recognize the importance of the communities to which they belong (big and small). The students recognize the words unity and united as words related to people coming together with common purpose. The goal of this lesson is to prove that there is strength in unity and that together we can accomplish more. They analyze and model their individual characteristics and symbolically bring those strengths to the group for the common good.

Lesson Rating 
PrintTwo Thirty-Minute Class Periods

The learner will:

  • brainstorm ideas of things that he/she can accomplish better by working with others than by working alone.
  • create a model of him/herself by identifying unique characteristics.
  • write a complete sentence about what he/she does better with a family than alone.
  • work with the rest of the class to solve a problem.
  • Toothpicks, glue, tape
  • Two rubber bands
  • Political map of the United States of America
  • Chart paper and markers
  • Paper towel roll for each student
  • One marble
  • 8" Paper plate for each student
  • Yarn for hair (yellow, brown, black, orange)
  • Wiggly eyes (one pair for each student)
  • Paper lunch sacks
  • Student copies of Handout One: Puppet of Me
Home Connection 

Interactive Parent / Student Homework:Send home supplies for students to work with their families to create a puppet resembling the students’ characteristics. The families assist the student in writing a sentence about personal traits. Families also work together to write a sentence about what they do better together as a family than alone as individuals.


  1. Anticipatory Set:

    Pass out a toothpick to each student and ask them if they are strong enough to break a toothpick in half. Allow the students to break the toothpicks. Then challenge the students to think of a way to make the toothpicks strong enough that the teacher could not break them. Elicit responses from students. Give students the opportunity to try ways to make the toothpicks stronger. Gather several toothpicks together and place a rubber band around the top and bottom. Demonstrate that they cannot be broken when all of the toothpicks are put together, or united.

  2. Ask the students where they have heard the word united before. If they can’t recall, begin saying the Pledge of Allegiance with your class. Stop when you reach the words "…to the United States of America." Ask the class if they know what "United" States means.

  3. Pull down a political map of the United States. Show students that each of the colored states is an individual state. Each state is different with its own interests, strengths, people and leaders. But our country is made up of 50 states united into one country, the United States of America. Just like the toothpicks were united to be stronger, our states are united into one strong country. We share laws and use the same money. United means many things coming together to make one or for a common purpose. Other things are united: the cities in our state are united in one state; the students are united in one classroom; brothers and sisters are united in one family. These are all communities to which we belong that make us stronger (not alone). Unity means harmony and singleness of purpose.

  4. Brainstorm a list of things that we can do better as a class, family, state or country than alone. (Encourage students to think of other groups they belong to such as sports teams, faith based groups, choir, Cub Scouts, Brownies, Boys and Girls Club etc.) Write student suggestions on chart paper (under headings, if appropriate).

  5. Tell the students that a community depends on lots of different people uniting. Each person in the community brings something important to the group. If everyone in the group was the same, the group wouldn’t be as strong. Some people are patient, others are serious, others are quick and others are creative. Tell the students that you want them to think about their own strengths as they make a puppet of themselves at home tonight. Encourage them to write on the back of the puppet some of their personal traits, interests and things at which they are good. For example, "I am quiet, I like soccer and I am good at listening."

  6. Set out supplies for students to prepare for their homework tonight. They will make puppets of themselves. Give each student a paper lunch bag. Inside the bag they should put a copy of Handout One: Puppet of Me, a paper plate, glue and tape, two wiggly eyes and yarn that matches their hair color. Show students a sample of how the completed puppet might look.

  7. Day Two

    Anticipatory Set

    Hand each student a paper towel roll. Have the students line up shoulder to shoulder. Tell the students that you will place a marble in the first child’s tube and that the marble has to get from the first tube through each tube to the end without touching anyone’s hands. Students should make a plan and try it. They may keep trying plans until they figure it out. (Students will see that they must put each tube end to end to create a tube for the marble to pass through.) This exercise shows that together they can accomplish more than as individuals.

  8. Discuss with the students what happened during the Anticipatory Set, why, and how they felt during and after the experience.

  9. Remind the students of the meaning of unity coming together for a common purpose.

  10. Ask each student to read aloud the sentence brought from home. List the activities from their sentences on the chart started yesterday. Then add to the list with further ideas sparked from the activity. Reinforce the concept that when individuals bring their personal strengths to the group, they can accomplish more than they could alone.

  11. Have students complete their models of themselves by attaching the puppet to their paper towel rolls. The yarn that closed the bag should be tied around the middle of the paper roll. Then the students join the individual puppets together by attaching the tubes end to end until all of the puppets are connected. Now the individual puppets are united.

  12. Display the united puppets in the hallway with a heading such as "We are United." The puppets may be attached to a bulletin board or tacking strip or suspended from the ceiling. Hang up the sentences they wrote with their families as part of the display. You may also display your brainstormed list of things you do better in a group.


Observe student participation in brainstorming and working together to solve a problem. Students’ sentences should articulate an activity that can be done better with a group than alone.


Philanthropy Framework

  1. Strand PHIL.I Definitions of Philanthropy
    1. Standard DP 04. Operational Characteristics of Nonprofit Organizations
      1. Benchmark E.1 Describe how citizens organize in response to a need.
    2. Standard DP 06. Role of Family in Philanthropy
      1. Benchmark E.2 Identify examples of families supporting giving and sharing.
  2. Strand PHIL.II Philanthropy and Civil Society
    1. Standard PCS 01. Self, citizenship, and society
      1. Benchmark E.3 Describe a benefit of group cooperation.
    2. Standard PCS 05. Philanthropy and Government
      1. Benchmark E.1 Define community as the degree that people come together for the common good.