Spend, Save or Donate

K, 1, 2

This lesson will introduce vocabulary terms spend, save and donate. As a class, they will discuss, sing and perform the song “You Can Bank on Me. ” The students will learn reasons that people choose to donate.

Lesson Rating 
PrintTwo Twenty-Minute Class Periods

The learners will:

  • differentiate between the vocabulary words spend, save and donate.
  • learn the song “You Can Bank on Me.”
  • brainstorm reasons to give and options for donating.
  • realize that he or she can make different choices with money.
  • Chart paper and markers
  • Lyrics for the song “You Can Bank on Me” (Attachment One).
  • A copy of the book Sam and the Lucky Money by Karen Chin (see Bibliographical References).
  • A large jar for collecting change for a philanthropy project.
Home Connection 

Interactive Parent / Student Homework:Send home a note introducing the unit and explaining how you will be raising money for a donation to a charitable cause. Encourage the students to get small change from their own piggy banks and earn money doing extra jobs around the house. (See Attachment Two: Letter to Families.)

  • Chin, Karen. Sam and the Lucky Money. Lee and Low Books (reprint edition), 1997. ISBN: 1880000539


  1. Day One:Anticipatory Set:Ask the students “If you have $10, what would you do with the money?” Ask students if they ever receive gifts of money for holidays or special occasions. Discuss with students what they usually do with their own money. Tell the students that today they are going to learn about some different things people can do with their money. As an introduction to the concepts, the teacher will sing “You Can Bank on Me.”

  2. Tell the students that there are three different things they can do with their money. They can spend it, save it or donate it. On three separate pieces of chart paper, list the following words as headings: save, spend and donate. Lead a class discussion generating ideas to define these vocabulary words. (What does it mean to spend money? How do people save money? What does it mean to donate money?) List the children’s response on the appropriate charts.

  3. Following are some definitions for the teacher’s reference only: Save: a. to put by as a store or reserve (part of an allowance each week); to accumulate, hoard or make larger. b. to put aside for a particular purpose or occasion (a favorite shirt for a special day or some candy to share with a friend). Spend: a. to pay out, trade money for goods, use money freely. b. to make use of, employ. c. to exhaust or wear out by use or activity. Donate: a. to make a free gift or a grant of; contribute esp. to a charitable cause (money for a soup kitchen or food pantry) or toward a public-service institution (a retired manufacturer donated a site for a park).

  4. Set aside the “Save” and “Spend” charts. Tell the class that you are going to teach them a word related to the word “donate.” Philanthropy is “giving your time, treasures or talents for the common good.” Write that definition on the chart. Talk about what the students’ treasures might be (money, candy, a special toy, etc.). Tell the students about some local examples of philanthropy: a park donated or maintained by someone, a soup kitchen, art events, etc. Talk about who benefits from philanthropy.

  5. Teach the children the lyrics for the song “You Can Bank on Me.” (See Attachment One.) Make sure the students understand the concepts in the lyrics.

  6. Day One: Anticipatory Set:Tell the students, “Yesterday we learned about the words spend, save and donate. Today we are going to talk about why anyone would choose to donate their money, time or talents to someone else.”

  7. Review the definitions on the “donate” chart from yesterday.

  8. Read the book Sam and the Lucky Money by Karen Chin. (See Bibliographical References.)

  9. Discuss the concepts from the book: Ask the students to recall what choices Sam had for spending his money. How did he finally spend his money? Have the students ever felt the way Sam did in the story when he was angry that he didn’t have more money? Have students ever felt like giving their money to someone who needed it more?

  10. Brainstorm on a piece of chart paper (use the “donate” chart if there is room) different people, organizations, charitable groups who could use some donations.

  11. Ask the children to reflect quietly about why someone might like to donate time, treasure or talent. Ask them to raise their hands and tell the class the reasons to donate. Talk about who benefits when someone donates. Ask the students to raise their hands if they would like to raise some money to donate. Tell them they will decide later in the week to whom they will donate their money.

  12. Show the students the jar for collecting money. Tell them that they may bring in coins from home. If students are able to bring in coins, it will add up to be enough money to donate to someone of their choice. Talk with the students about where the money might come from. They are not to solicit money—it should come from them (and their families).


Teacher observation of the student responses during the group discussions.

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.
    3. Standard DP 05. Role of Foundations
      1. Benchmark E.4 Describe the concept of saving for the future.
  2. Strand PHIL.III Philanthropy and the Individual
    1. Standard PI 01. Reasons for Individual Philanthropy
      1. Benchmark E.1 Describe one reason why a person might give or volunteer.