It's Symbolic!

9, 10, 11, 12

In this lesson, students begin to create a reference poster to use in the classroom that shows the relationships between various governmental and economic systems, and shows how these systems interact with the nonprofit sector to meet the needs of citizens in various countries.

Lesson Rating 
PrintOne Fifty-Minute Class Period

The learner will:

  • use symbols to represent government and economic systems.
  • describe how governments work with the nonprofit sector to provide for the needs of their people.
  • Symbolic pictures, other visual aids, and music (picture ideas: Statue of Liberty, Red "AIDS" Ribbon, Olympic rings, milk mustache picture, school mascot, dollar sign, Nike "swoosh," music ideas: "Auld Lang Syne," your school fight song, "Hail to the Chief")
  • Sample Working Chart (Attachment Two) from Lesson One: Who, What, Where, When, and Why?
  • Poster board, colored markers, laminate
  • Biography/ Interview Sheet (Attachment One)


  1. Anticipatory Set:

    Instruct students to number a paper from one to ten. Present ten symbolic pictures/objects/music clips to the class. Do this quickly so students do not have time to analyze what they see/hear. Instruct the class to write down what each image represents. After this exercise, explain that the class has just looked at (and listened to) a variety of symbols. Ask the class how they know what a symbol represents and accept several answers.

  2. Direct the students' attention to the definition cards from the previous lesson. Call on students to give their definitions, including the definitions for nonprofits and basic needs. Explain to the class that today they will be creating symbols for the governmental and economic systems and needs they have listed on their charts. Students should return to the small groups to create their symbols.

    • Instruct students that they will be working in the "key" column of Sample Working Chart (Attachment Two) from Lesson One: Who, What, Where, When, and Why. Students should sketch the symbols they have created next to the information they wrote yesterday. Groups will then write the "needs" they have listed, and sketch in those symbols as well.
    • Symbols must be explained in the form of a metaphor, for example, "___________ is like (a) ________________ because _________________." The teacher should distribute reference sheets for each country. (Consider using as a source.)
    • Student groups should decide whether the needs of the citizens of that country are met by the government, the business sector, or the nonprofit sector. They should then speculate on why the type of government or economic system affects "how" the needs of citizens are met. (These decisions will require guided discussion from the teacher). When the groups have decided where the needs are being met, they are to report their findings to the rest of the class, and add them to their charts.)
    • Using Biography/Interview Sheet (Attachment One), students should interview a representative of another country prior to the next class meeting. These interviews may be done with foreign exchange students, pen pals, parents, neighbors, business associates, and family members. Interviews may also be done with someone who has traveled extensively or has close ties with another country's policies. (See Notes for Teaching in the Unit Overview for an alternate suggestion.)

The work completed on the chart may be used as a form of assessment.

Philanthropy Framework

  1. Strand PHIL.I Definitions of Philanthropy
    1. Standard DP 02. Roles of Government, Business, and Philanthropy
      1. Benchmark HS.5 Describe and give examples of how the kind of economic system in place affects the function of a civil society sector.
  2. Strand PHIL.II Philanthropy and Civil Society
    1. Standard PCS 03. Philanthropy and Economics
      1. Benchmark HS.5 Give examples of stewardship decisions throughout history and in current events.
    2. Standard PCS 07. Skills of Civic Engagement
      1. Benchmark HS.2 Discuss a public policy issue affecting the common good and demonstrate respect and courtesy for differing opinions.