Garden for Life
The students respond to a story in which a child inspires her neighborhood to improve a vacant lot. The students recognize that they can have a positive impact on others. The class decides on a philanthropic project related to the literature that will benefit the school or larger community.
The learner will:
- define philanthropist/philanthropy.
- brainstorm acts of kindness/philanthropy that benefit others.
- select and begin a community project to improve the neighborhood or community appearance.
- Wanda’s Roses by Pat Brisson
- vase of flowers (or picture of a flower)
- An Action of the Heart (handout)
Families can discuss actions of the heart in the community and in the home. The handout, An Action of the Heart, includes some simple plant projects to do at home.
Brisson, Pat. Wanda’s Roses. Boyds Mills Press, 1994. ISBN: 156397925X
Play the game 20 questions in which the item they are guessing is a rose or rose bush (or a vase of flowers). Talk about how flowers brighten up a room or yard. Discuss how we describe roses with our senses and feelings.
Read Wanda’s Roses to the class (or show a YouTube version), stopping to note details and check for understanding. Sample questions: What do plants need to survive? What do the neighbors think of what Wanda is doing? How do they express their opinions? What is Wanda doing for the neighborhood? (Be sure to talk about the beautification as well as the sense of community.)
Tell the students that Wanda’s actions for the common good make her a philanthropist. Review or introduce the definition of a philanthropist: someone who gives and shares time, talent and/or treasure for the common good. Discuss whether she set out to be a philanthropist. Why did she plant flowers?
Discuss whether she spent her time, talent or treasure (or a combination) to make the neighborhood nicer. Discuss why acting philanthropically is good for the community.
Wanda’s actions came from her heart, and her good will spread to the entire neighborhood.
Encourage the students to think of things they could do (or have done) to make some place better (neighborhood, classroom, home). List the students’ ideas for some small and large actions for the common good. Lead the students to include community gardening ideas (like Wanda’s garden).
Choose something the classroom or family can do to brighten the neighborhood and stay within the rules and boundaries of community space. Brainstorm what common good they hope will come from their project (such as increased community interaction, beautifying an ugly space, increased community pride or ownership, or raised concern about common spaces).
Make a detailed plan of action, laying out all the steps, needed permission, and things needed to carry out the plan. Assign some responsibilities and begin working on whatever ideas can be started. Do it and then observe and reflect on the action and impact over time.
Have students draw a picture of a philanthropist in action. This picture may illustrate a small or large philanthropic act. Ask them to explain their pictures (to you or the class) so you can assess whether students comprehend the meaning of philanthropist.
Students will choose a service-learning project. Some possible suggestions are listed below: Plant trees at your school or at a community park. Start/maintain a school nature center. Start a community garden at a local park or community gathering place. Improve a community garden that is already in place. Beautify the school property.
Strand PHIL.I Definitions of Philanthropy
Standard DP 01. Define Philanthropy
Benchmark E.1 Define philanthropy as the giving and sharing of time, talent, or treasure intended for the common good.
Standard DP 02. Roles of Government, Business, and Philanthropy
Benchmark E.6 Explain why acting philanthropically is good for the community, state, nation, or world.
Strand PHIL.II Philanthropy and Civil Society
Standard PCS 01. Self, citizenship, and society
Benchmark E.3 Describe a benefit of group cooperation.