Contagious Respect for Property

3, 4, 5

After learning about the definition of respect toward self and others, students will be provided with an opportunity to see and behave with respect towards property in the community.  Students will make observations around the school and record their findings in order to better understand how to learn positive habits towards property.

PrintOne 30-45 Minute Session

The learner will:

  • identify respectful behaviors toward the community.
  • identify areas in the school which have been treated with respect and disrespect.
  • differentiate between borrowing and stealing, neglecting and damaging as respectful or disrepectful behaviors toward property and the community.
  • recording journal and pens to make observations
  • depending on the service-learning project, you may need plastic grocery bags, plastic gloves, rakes, shovels, flowers, and seeds
Home Connection 

As homework, have children observe places in their homes and neighborhoods that need more respectful treatment. They write a description of the area and its neglect and propose a solution for cleaning it up. They also write what effect the respectful treatment of property will have on people who notice it.


  1. Anticipatory Set:

    Prior to beginning this lesson, randomly borrow books and materials from different students' desks and leave papers all around the floor and/or a mess on the students' desks. A good time to do this would be while the students are away for lunch.

  2. Discuss students' reaction to the mess in the classroom and the violation of privacy of the teacher going into their desks. Ask the students whose books and materials you took how they feel about someone going in their desks and taking things without asking. Remind students that in the previous lessons they learned about respecting others and oneself. Ask them to relate those ideas to how they can treat things/property (rather than people) with respect. What does it look like to respect property around school? What does it look like to respect property around our community? (And what would disrespect for property look like?) Discuss students' view of respecting property and why it is important. Also include the concept of boundaries: what is okay and what is a violation of someone else's space/property?

  3. Tell the students that they will be going for a walk around the school to make observations about how property around school is treated. They will take notes of places where they feel the property is respected and cared for, as well as places where people have neglected or damaged property. They may express their feelings about the treatment of the areas (pride, embarassment, desire to clean, anger at lack of respect).

  4. Make sure each student has a journal and pencil. Take the students for a walk around the school to make observations. Stop periodically to allow them to take notes.

  5. Upon returning and through whole-group discussion, make a T-chart of evidence of respectful and disrepectful treatment of property (e.g., evidence of respectful treatment: clean, groomed, orderly, supplies in order; evidence of disrespectful treatment: missing parts, dirty, trashy, messy).

  6. Discuss how students feel about areas of the school that have been treated disrepectfully. Include a discussion of the differences between borrowing, stealing, neglecting and destroying of property as they relate to treating property with respect. How does treating property with respect/disrespect affect the community attitudes and behaviors?

  7. Move the students up into small groups to identify the area they would like to clean and beautify and what they think the effect will be. Provide the students with about 10 minutes to do this and then share with the whole group to choose the area for the class to focus on.

  8. Tell the students that when they share their time to make something better for the community, they are acting as philanthropists. What they are doing helps everyone because they are making a shared space better. Tell students about the experience of a significant drop in crime in New York City after the mayor had the police crack down on small crimes. The number of big crimes went down because there was more respect for property. (See "Broken Windows theory" or "zero tolerance.")

  9. Following the stages of service-learning (see Handout), plan and carry out a project to show respect towards property in school and build community pride and sense of responsibility.


On index cards, write descriptions of different scenarios where property, community, and environment are respected and disrepected. Put the index card scenarios in stations around the room. Move the students into pairs or small groups and have them cycle through the stations, recording their personal responses to the scenarios.

Cross Curriculum 

Students select an area within the school to maintain/keep clean.

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. Benchmark E.3 Recognize that citizens have a responsibility for the common good as defined by democratic principles.
    2. Standard DP 02. Roles of Government, Business, and Philanthropy
      1. Benchmark E.3 Identify ways that trust is important in all communities.
  2. Strand PHIL.IV Volunteering and Service
    1. Standard VS 02. Service and Learning
      1. Benchmark E.1 Select a service project based on interests, abilities, and research.
    2. Standard VS 03. Providing Service
      1. Benchmark E.1 Provide a needed service.
      2. Benchmark E.3 Describe the task and the student role.
    3. Standard VS 04. Raising Private Resources
      1. Benchmark E.3 Describe a service plan.
    4. Standard VS 05. Integrating the Service Experience into Learning
      1. Benchmark E.3 Identify outcomes from the service.