Where Does It All Come From? Penny Drive

K, 1, 2

Students gain awareness that community organizations need resources (money and materials) to help people in need. Students may organize a penny drive to raise funds for a chosen community organization.

Focus Question: How can we use time and talent to raise treasure for a community need?

PrintOne Twenty to thirty minute class period

The learner will:

  • learn the definition of philanthropy and understand themselves as philanthropists.
  • draw conclusions as to how organizations might get money from a community to support their effort to help those in need.
  • organize a penny drive.
  • A comfortable chair, similar to the one in the book if possible
  • Children’s literature book A Chair for My Mother
  • donation - a gift or contribution, especially a sum of money given to a charity
  • philanthropy - giving time, treasure or talents, and taking action for the common good

Playing the game “Duck, Duck, Goose,” model for the students how the person who is “IT” will walk around the circle of students tapping them lightly on the head saying, “caring” “sharing” “helping” “giving,” or any combination of these words.  However when the person who is IT taps someone on the head and says “philanthropy” or “philanthropist” that person is now IT and must stand and tell the class how he or she cared, shared, helped, or gave to someone during the Event.  The new IT person now walks around the circle following the model.  If some is dubbed “Philanthropist” and they have nothing they can think of to share, have the IT person continue to follow the model until he or she finds someone to be IT who is willing and able to share.  (NOTE: Make every effort to be sure that everyone has an opportunity to be IT and to share.)


  • Williams, Vera B.  A Chair for My Mother.   Harper  Trophy,  1984
    ISBN: 0688040748.


  1. Anticipatory Set:

    If possible have a “comfortable” chair in the room a few hours or even a day before the lesson.Allow the children to take turns sitting in it. Observe their behaviors while sitting in the chair. Before reading the book ask the learners a few questions about the chair. Why did you like to sit in the chair? How did it feel to sit in the chair? Does this chair remind you of a chair you have at home? How do you think the chair got to your home?

    Teacher’s Note: While the main point of this story is about the family buying a “chair for mother” this lesson will focus on the idea that the family received help from their community after the fire.

  2. Show the learners the cover of the book and ask them to share what they think the story is going to be about.

  3. Tell them that something bad happens to this family and they are going to learn how the family, with help from others, is able to make it better.

  4. Read the book allowing discussion time as you read. Ask them to listen for details of how the family might have received help from others.

  5. After you have read the book, point out that the bad happening was a fire. Tell them that the community helped the family by donating or giving some of the things that the family needed.

  6. Tell the students that people who help others are called philanthropists. Philanthropy is “giving your time, treasures or talents and taking action for the common good.” Explain that everyone can be a philanthropist.

  7. Ask: “Who or what group of people in our community might be able to help people in need?” Accept reasonable answers but guide them to the idea that individuals as well as communities organizations (groups of individuals) can help people. For example, a soup kitchen or shelter; the Salvation Army; the Red Cross, etc. Be sure to name some organizations that service your local community and whose names might be familiar to the students. Be sensitive to the fact that some of the students’ families might have received or are receiving this kind of assistance.

  8. Ask: “How do these helping organizations get things to give to people in need?” Again accept reasonable answers, but lead the learners to realize that these organizations need donations of money, as well as donations of “things” in order to help those in need.

  9. Ask: “Where do you think these organizations get the money?” People either give some of their own money to the organization or they donate money to support the organization.

  10. Ask: “Have you or your family ever donated money to help an organization?” Be sure answers include things that they may be familiar with on the local level (donating to a faith based organization, Trick-or-Treat for UNICEF, the Salvation Army Christmas Kettle Drive).

  11. Suggest that they can be philanthropists and donate their money by participating in the school Penny Drive.

Cross Curriculum 

The class may hold a penny drive to raise money for a chosen cause. To hold the competition, each class or team competes against all others. Each team has a jar in a central location labeled with the team name and the charity they are raising money for. The idea is to earn the most money for your class or grade. In a penny war, teams try to collect the most pennies, and silver coins count against their total. This creates a competition where other teams try to sabotage the other teams by adding silver coins or dollar bills to the competitors' jars. The value of the coins count against the total, so a quarter subtracts 25 points from a jar of pennies. You can have two winners: one winner is the team that has the most points and another winner collects the highest monetary value.

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.1 Give examples of needs met by government, business, civil society, and family.
    3. Standard DP 03. Names and Types of Organizations within the Civil Society Sector
      1. Benchmark E.2 Name an example of a civil society charitable organization.
    4. Standard DP 06. Role of Family in Philanthropy
      1. Benchmark E.1 Identify common roles that families play in society.