Making a Difference ~ Lesson Plans

Kindness, caring, giving and community service are explored in these lessons, (arranged from lowest to highest grade levels), as students learn how to make the world a more beautiful place.

(Click on these links for Lesson Plans on Bullying Awareness,Teaching Tolerance, and Creating Community.)

Making the World a More Beautiful Place
Grades: K through 2
Subjects: Language Arts, Art, Library and Philanthropy
Duration: One 30-minute session
Materials: Miss Rumphius by Barbara Cooney, journals or paper

Beautiful Me
Grades: K through 2
Subjects: Music, Language Arts, Library/Technology, Philanthropy
And Math
Duration: Nine 40 minute sessions plus project time and a performance divided into 5 lessons: Cleaning Up, Do Something Beautiful, Sharing Beauty Through Song, Making a Choice, Make Something Beautiful
Materials: See lesson plans

  • In this interdisciplinary unit, students learn how they can positively influence their environment through beauty. Through literature, music, writing, and art this unit offers many classroom-friendly service opportunities in order to help each individual determine what role or roles they can play in helping to create a beautiful community in which to live.
  • Beautiful Me lesson plans 

Peace Dove
Grades: K through 3
Subjects: Social Studies, Language Arts
Duration: One session
Materials: Peace Doves (printable Dove worksheet at lesson plan link below)

  • This lesson inspires students to think about ways to obtain world peace and take action.
  • Peace Dove lesson plan 

Kindness
Grades: K through 5
Subjects: Social Studies
Duration: One introductory session then ongoing
Materials: A book with the themes of kindness and generosity — like Pat Brisson’s Melissa Parkington’s Beautiful, Beautiful Hair, poster board, markers.

The Kindness-Catcher Camera
Grades: K through 5
Subjects: Social Studies, Visual Arts
Duration: See Lesson Plan
Materials: See Lesson Plan

  • In this cooperation skill-building lesson, children learn how to identify acts of kindness by seeing photographs of their classmates being kind.
  • The Kindness-Catcher Camera lesson plan (You must create an account for this free download)

An Exercise in Kindness
Grades: K through 5
Subjects: Language Arts, Social Studies
Duration: One 30-minute session at the beginning and at the end of the week
Materials: None

One Person Makes a Difference
Grades: K through 5
Subject: Social Studies, Language Arts
Duration: One or two sessions
Materials: Read-Aloud-Book in which someone makes a difference (See resources here
Paper, glue, scissors old magazines for collage extension project

Blue Sky Activity
Grades: K through 12
Subjects: Language Arts, Social Studies
Duration: One 30-minute session
Materials: Blue paper and crayons

  • Blue Sky is a visioning exercise that guides students in imagining a better world. This activity focuses students on identifying and responding to community needs
  • .Blue Sky Activity lesson plan

    Photo by Leigh Hilbert

Making a Difference in our Community
Grades: 3 through 5
Subjects: Social Studies, Language Arts, Library & Technology and Philanthropy
Duration: One or two 45-minute sessions
Materials: Newspaper/magazine photos showing area/people that could benefit from philanthropic action (a person with a special need, a littered road, etc.), newspaper/magazine photos showing people who are demonstrating philanthropic action, The Three Questions by Jon J Muth, chart paper or overhead projector and transparency/marker (for optional Day Two)

  • Prior to this lesson, use the Blue Sky Activity in which students envision a better world. If you already have a Blue Sky display revisit it before beginning this lesson.
  • In this lesson students identity community and school needs, and respond to literature about being a good person and making a difference. Working as a group, they select a philanthropic project, and formulate and execute a plan to realize it. 
  • Making a Difference in our Community lesson plan 

The Sounds of Change
Grades: 3 through 12
Subjects: Language Arts, Social Studies, Music
Duration: Two to four sessions
Materials: Pen, paper, song lyric analysis sheets (PDF at lesson plan link below.)

  • Music can create powerful connections between people, help us learn about different cultures, shatter stereotypes, question social injustices and inspire us to create “the world as it should be. This lesson challenges students to analyze and reflect on the messages and lessons of song lyrics and create their own outlets to express a viewpoint or message related to tolerance that is important to them.
  • The Sounds of Change lesson plan

Taking Action
Grades: 4 through 12
Subjects: Social Studies, Philanthropy
Duration: One class session
Materials: Pencils and paper

Character Education: Caring
Grades: 6 through 8
Subjects: Social Studies, Language Arts, Arts and Philanthropy
Duration: A unit of five 20-minute lessons
Materials: See lesson plans

  • What role does caring play in relationships and life success? How can developing caring equip people as world citizens who contribute to the common good?
  • This unit allows learners to investigate and expand their understanding of caring and to identify things or people they care about. They will determine different ways that they can show caring; relate enlightened self-interest to caring and they will reflect on how philanthropy, enlightened self-interest and caring are related.
  • Caring lesson plan Grade 6  
  • Caring lesson plan Grade 7 
  • Caring lesson plan Grade 8 

Our Unique Legacy of Giving
Grades: 6 through 8
Subjects: Social Studies, Language Arts, Science, Library & Technology and Philanthropy
Duration: Seven 50-minute lessons, one 20-minute lesson, plus time to research and write biographies
Materials: See lesson plans

  • How do communities impact individuals, and how can individuals impact a community? 
  • This unit explores the stories, events, personalities, and motivations that create a culture of philanthropy. Students investigate the profound impact that individual philanthropists (including themselves) can have on their community. Students will create stories and use the stories as a gift to others.
  • Our Unique Legacy of Giving lesson plans

Trash or treasure?
Grades: 6 through 8
Subjects: Social Studies, Language Arts, Library/Technology and Philanthropy, Music
Duration: Thirteen 45-minute sessions
Materials: Permission slips for park experience, camera to take pictures at event, trash bags, Ziploc bags, plastic gloves, Pay it Forward novel. Power of One DVD, Legacy song lyrics, copied attachments & handouts (at lesson plan link below.)

  • Can a young person truly make a difference in our world?
  • Learners will carry out an act of philanthropy by cleaning up a park. Learners will reflect on their experience and, through the use of literature, understand the importance of philanthropy, thus realizing that one person, a young adult, can make a difference in our world.
  •  Trash or Treasure? lesson plan 

Peace by Piece
Grades: 6 through 8
Subjects: Language Arts
Duration: Four 45-minute sessions
Materials: Editing handouts & attachments (see lesson plan link below), Red pens (one per student) 3×5 index cards, computer paper, construction paper, glue or glue sticks, coloured pencils, a copy of The legend of Blue Bonnet by Tommie DePaolo, and a copy of Be Good to Eddie Lee by Virginia Fleming

Lights! Camera! Take Action!
Grades: 9 through 12
Subjects: Social Studies, Language Arts, Arts, Library & Technology and Philanthropy
Duration: Eight or nine 50-minute lessons, plus independent and class time to interview and create documentaries, and an evening event for the community
Materials: See lesson plans

  • How does a generation share a legacy of giving and what does this mean for our generation?
  • This unit explores the stories, events, personalities and motivations that create a culture of philanthropy. Using a video documentary about West Michigan as a model, students learn about the philanthropists, unique features and needs of their own community and create documentaries (alternative projects suggested in Lesson Three Extension.) Although it was written about West Michigan, this unit is easily adapted to any community, rural or urban.
  • Lights! Camera! Take Action! lesson plan

Photo by Allan Tong

Reporting on an Ideal World
Grades: 9 through 12
Subjects: Language Arts, Social Studies, Creative Writing, Journalism
Duration: Two 55-minute sessions
Materials: Several USA Today newspapers, collection of magazines and newspapers for pictures, scissors, glue,writing material or word processing capabilities.

  • Prior to this lesson, use the Blue Sky Activity in which students envision a better world. If you already have a Blue Sky display revisit it before beginning this lesson.
  • Learners will envision an ideal world characterized by principles of justice, kindness, peace and tolerance. They will demonstrate understanding of these concepts by creating a fictitious newspaper called USA Tomorrow that reports on the ideal world. They will reflect in writing about one-step they can take to make an ideal world a reality.
  • Reporting on an Ideal World lesson plan

Talk the Talk, Walk the Walk
Grades: 9 through 12
Subjects: Social Studies, Language Arts, Library/Technology and Philanthropy
Duration: One 55-minute session
Materials: Four colours of self-stick notes, enough for each student to have two of each colour, a total of 8 notes per student. Four life-sized cardboard or paper outlines of a person made ahead of time,

  • Learners will think about ways to demonstrate civic virtues of justice, kindness, peace and tolerance in being good citizens. The will explore what it means to act out these virtues – what they could “do” to act just, kind, tolerant and peaceful. They will work cooperatively to clarify what these virtues might look, sound and feel like when practiced. The students will write a goal for themselves in developing/practicing at least one of these virtues and a plan to achieve the goal.
  • Talk the Talk, Walk the Walk lesson plan

4 thoughts on “Making a Difference ~ Lesson Plans

  1. Pingback: Inspire Learners to be Kind: 30+ Resources : Teacher Reboot Camp

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