Garden for Life

K, 1, 2

The students respond to a story in which a child inspires her neighborhood to work together and 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.

Lesson Rating 
PrintOne Forty-Five Minute Class Period

The learner will:

  • define philanthropist/philanthropy.
  • brainstorm acts of kindness/philanthropy that benefit others.
  • select and begin a community project for the class to do that will make a difference in others’ lives.
  • Wanda’s Roses by Pat Brisson
  • Potted rose bush or bouquet of roses (hidden)
  • Chart paper and markers
  • Drawing paper and colored pencils or crayons
  • An Action of the Heart (Handout One)
Home Connection 

Interactive Parent / Student Homework:Encourage families to discuss actions of the heart in the community and in the home. Send home a copy of Handout One: An Action of the Heart. This also includes some simple plant projects to do at home.


Brisson, Pat. Wanda’s Roses. Boyds Mills Press, 1994. ISBN: 156397925X


  1. Anticipatory Set:

    Tell the children you have something for your desk that has to do with the story you are going to read to them. Tell them they may ask 20 questions to figure out what it is. Have them ask you yes or no questions to narrow it down and try to guess that you have roses for your desktop. (You may give hints or guide their questioning, if necessary.) Show the students the roses. Let them feel the soft petals, look at the color(s) and smell them. Display the roses on your desk.

  2. Show the cover of the book, Wanda’s Roses, to the class and ask them to describe what they see and where they think Wanda is standing. Ask them if they see any roses on the cover. Say, "Let’s read to find out why this story is called Wanda’s Roses."

  3. Read Wanda’s Roses to the class, 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.)

  4. 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. 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.

  5. 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). See Experiential Component.

  6. Tell the students that as a class they will choose one of these ideas to carry out—something related to gardening—to benefit people outside this classroom. Discuss some possibilities until you narrow it down to one idea that works best for the class. 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). Save this list.

  7. Compile ideas of how to get this project started. Assign some responsibilities and begin working on whatever ideas can be started. Obtain the necessary permission for the project and discuss how to obtain needed supplies.


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.

Cross Curriculum 

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.

Philanthropy Framework

  1. Strand PHIL.I Definitions of Philanthropy
    1. Standard DP 01. Define Philanthropy
      1. Benchmark E.1 Define philanthropy as the giving and sharing of time, talent, or treasure intended for the common good.
    2. Standard DP 02. Roles of Government, Business, and Philanthropy
      1. Benchmark E.6 Explain why acting philanthropically is good for the community, state, nation, or world.
  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.