Spend, Save or Donate

K, 1, 2

This lesson introduces economic vocabulary terms spend, save and donate

PrintOne Thirty-Minute Session

The learners will:

  • define the vocabulary words spend, save and donate.
  • Lyrics for the song “You Can Bank on Me” (handout).
  • A copy of the book Sam and the Lucky Money by Karen Chin (see Bibliography).
  • A large jar for collecting change for a philanthropy project.
  • A chart for brainstorming, black, blue, red, and yellow markers
Teacher Preparation 

Contact nonprofit organizations in the community to find out what they need. It could be money, gently used or new items, or volunteer time. 

Home Connection 

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

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


  1. Anticipatory Set:

    Ask the children “If you had $10, what would you do with the money?” Listen to their responses and write them on chart paper with a black marker. 

  2. Looking at their list, tell them there are three different things they can do with their money. They can spend it, save it, or donate it.

    1. With a red marker, write the word "spend" on the chart. Define spend as "to pay out, trade money for goods or services." Ask them to name the things on the $10 chart that are examples of "spending" their money. Underline them with red. 
    2. With a blue marker, write the word "save" on the chart. Define save as "to store or keep for later; to put aside for a particular purpose or occasion." Underline anything on the chart in blue that is an example of saving.
    3. With a yellow marker, write the word "donate" on the chart. Define donate as "to make a free gift or a grant of; contribute to helping someone else or a nonprofit organization." Underline anything on the chart in yellow that is an example of donating.

    If there aren't examples in one of these categories, brainstorm some ideas of ways to save, spend, or donate. 

  3. Introduce and define this word related to donate: Philanthropy is “giving your time, treasure, or talent for the common good.” Talk about what the children's treasures might be (money, books, toys, clothes). Give examples of some local philanthropy: a park donated or maintained by someone, a soup kitchen, art events, or a crossing guard. Talk about how the community benefits from philanthropy. Why would someone give their own time or treasure away? 

  4. Teach the children the lyrics for the song “You Can Bank on Me.” (See handout.)

  5. Read aloud the book Sam and the Lucky Money by Karen Chin. Discuss:

    • What are the choices Sam had for his money?
    • How did he spend his money?
    • Why did he make that choice? How did he feel about that choice?We
    • What did he give up? Was that okay with him?
  6. Have a discussion about whether we as a group can make a decision to donate some of our treasure for someone else or the good of the community. Brainstorm some things that could be improved in the community. Share with the children the names of some organizations that address thoses needs. Through discussion, determine a few things they would like to give their time, talent, or treasure toward. Begin by posting a few names of nonprofit organizations or community needs. For example: food gleaners, Habitat for Humanity, and a local park.

    Over the next couple days, contact local organizations and find out what they need, and share what you learned with the children. It could range from canned food donations, gently used books, socks, or volunteer clean up.

  7. Show the jar for collecting money. Tell them they may bring in coins from home. Small change can add up to be enough money to donate to one of their choices. Talk about where the money might come from. They are not to solicit money—it should come from their own efforts (allowance and doing extra work at home).

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.