Ask a Volunteer!

K, 1, 2

Students become familiar with the motivation of volunteers through interviewing some of the school volunteers.

Lesson Rating 
PrintTwo Forty-Five Minute Class Periods

The learner will:

  • generate questions to ask of volunteers to understand why people volunteer to help.
  • conduct interviews of volunteers to determine motivation for giving.
  • explain that people give freely of their time and talents to help at school.
  • write letters to thank volunteers.
  • Microphone to be used as a prop
  • Writing materials or chart paper
Home Connection 

None for this lesson.


None for this lesson.


  1. Anticipatory Set:

    Invite a familiar school employee into the classroom in order to demonstrate to the students how to conduct an interview. Using the microphone as a prop, ask some questions about the guests’ work: “What is your job here at school?” “What do you enjoy about this job?” “Why did you choose to do this?” Put some funny questions in the interview as an example of what is not appropriate, such as, “What is your favorite lizard?”

  2. Review the difference between a volunteer and a paid worker at school. List some example of volunteers who may be willing to talk to the class.

  3. Ask, “Why would someone want to volunteer their services if they are not going to be paid?” Allow time for students to discuss. Then say, “Let’s invite some volunteers to our classroom and ask them to tell us why they do it.”

  4. Brainstorm some appropriate questions to use for an interview. Write them on chart paper. Example questions: What kind of volunteer work do you do at the school? How much time do you spend volunteering (including time preparing)? Why do you choose to do this? What are you giving up to come here? How do you feel about volunteering your time? (NOT: Do you have a cat?)

  5. Discuss the structure of your interviews. The interviews may be conducted as a whole class talking to one volunteer at a time, as a panel of volunteers or in small groups with each group talking to one individual. Assign questions and responsibilities to individuals. (Responsibilities: setting up the classroom, inviting volunteers, writing the questions, taking notes at the interview, introducing volunteers, thanking volunteers, etc.)

  6. Invite volunteers to the class. Give them an idea in advance of the types of questions they will be asked.

  7. Day Two:

  8. On the day of the interviews, students carry out their responsibilities in conducting the interviews.

  9. Follow up with a discussion. Ask the students to summarize the key reasons that people volunteer, especially at school. Lead students to verbalize that people volunteer at school because they care about the school and the children.

  10. Have each student write/dictate a thank you to one of the guest volunteers. The thank you note should include a statement of what that person is doing for the school and why it is helpful/important. Example: “Thank you for talking to my class. I am so glad you help with reading at school. Your work is important to us because we get more practice reading.” The letter may also include an illustration of the volunteer in her role as volunteer. (This may overlap with the next lesson. This thank you should be specifically for the interview. In the next lesson, students give thank you gifts to other school volunteers.)


Teacher observation of students during construction of questions and during interview time is the primary means of assessment. Student letters also reflect student understanding.

Cross Curriculum 

None for this lesson.

Philanthropy Framework

  1. Strand PHIL.II Philanthropy and Civil Society
    1. Standard PCS 01. Self, citizenship, and society
      1. Benchmark E.4 Describe the characteristics of someone who helps others.
    2. Standard PCS 03. Philanthropy and Economics
      1. Benchmark E.3 Give examples of <i>opportunity cost</i> in philanthropic giving.
  2. 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.2 Identify why people practice philanthropy related to their own self-interest.
    2. Standard PI 02. Careers In The Nonprofit Sector
      1. Benchmark E.1 Distinguish between volunteer and non-volunteer jobs.