Learning to Give, Philanthropy education resources that teach giving and civic engagement

"Mother Earth" - Present
Lesson 2
Academic Standards
Philanthropy Framework


The purpose of this lesson is for students to continue to explore the Native-American traditional beliefs of Mother Earth through contemporary Native American writers and to express this concept through Haiku and visual art.


One Sixty-Minute Class Period


The learner will:

  • read and interpret contemporary Native-American literature.
  • write an original haiku poem.
  • illustrate the traditional belief of “Mother Earth.”
  • apply vocabulary of environmentalism (from Lesson One : “Mother Earth” - Past ) to present-day Native-American reflections.

Service Experience:

Although this lesson contains a service project example, decisions about service plans and implementation should be made by students, as age appropriate.
Learn more about the stages of service-learning.
None for this lesson.


  • Student copies of Attachment One: Reflections of Contemporary Native Americans and Attachment Two: Haiku
  • Pencils and black fine-tip markers
Handout 1
Reflections of Contemporary Native Americans
Handout 2

Instructional Procedure(s):

Anticipatory Set:
Write the word “steward” vertically on a large sheet of paper. Based on the learning from Lesson One: “Mother Earth” - Past , have the students define the word and relate it to philanthropy. Create a whole-class acrostic poem by selecting one word (or phrase) for each of the letters in the word steward.

  • Tell the students that in the last lesson they looked at the words of Chief Seattle to discover the Native Americans' view of the earth. Today they will look at what some contemporary Native Americans believe about stewardship of the environment.

  • Distribute Attachment One: Reflections of Contemporary Native Americans. Read and discuss the selections as a class or assign each selection to a small group to read and report back to the class. Prompt the students to use the vocabulary words from Lesson One (philanthropy, steward, stewardship, environment, environmentalist, common good) in their discussion.

  • Distribute Attachment Two and use it to explain Haiku poetry. Each student writes a Haiku poem with a nature theme.

  • After the Haiku is complete, each student should continue to work on the artwork begun in Lesson One . (Play Native American music in the background to set the focus on nature.) On the watercolor painting from Lesson One , the students are to draw pencil outlines from nature. These are not intended to be complete “pictures.” The drawing might include the outline of fish, leaves, trees, flowers, animals, etc. The colors and shapes in the watercolor “wash” should influence the illustrations. Trace the pencil lines with fine-tip markers.

  • Display the artwork and Haiku poetry together.


  • Teacher observation of student vocabulary word use.
  • A completed Haiku nature poem and illustration.

School/Home Connection:

None for this lesson.

Cross-Curriculum Extensions:

None for this lesson.

Bibliographical References:

  • Beaton, D. “Healing and Protecting Our Sacred Mother Earth” . First Nations Drum. Summer 2002. Volume I .
  • Children's Haiku Garden. http://homepage2.nifty.com/haiku-eg/ > 1 October, 2003
  • KidPub Children's Publishing < http://www.kidpub.com/ > 1 October, 2003 This is a possible site for posting original poetry. You can set up a school page which will allow you to post your students' writing directly. Worthy of investigation!

Lesson Developed By:

Barbara Dillbeck
Learning to Give


Handout 1Print Handout 1

Reflections of Contemporary Native Americans

We are instructed to carry love for one another,

And to show great respect for all beings of the earth.

We must stand together, the four sacred colors of man,

As the one family we are,

In the interest of peace…

Our energy is the combined will of all the people

With the spirit of the natural world,

To be of one body, one heart, and one mind.

Chief Leon Shenandoah (Onondaga)

The Hopi people say that we come from Mother Earth and we go back to Mother Earth when we die. Native Americans have great respect for Hopi spiritual leaders, because the word Hopi means peaceful people and Hopi are praying for harmony and balance of Mother Earth. Hopi spiritual elders believe they are caretakers of Mother Earth as do most Native Americans who follow their traditions.

The Iroquois people have been giving the messages to the world, same as the Hopi and Traditional Native Americans that our Mother Earth is in great danger; that the earth is in a crisis. The old elders are saying that the natural powers demand respect and understanding if there is to be a future.

The world around us is in chaos from western thinking and western priorities. For thousands of years natives lived in respect and in awe with the surrounding of forest and waters so beautiful, with animals, fish and life that they themselves are overcome with thanks. Natives created songs and prayers of thanksgiving to be one with nature.

Excerpts from “Healing and Protecting Our Sacred Mother Earth by Danny Beaton (Mohawk of the Turtle Clan).


The Circle of life: A Poem by Cloud Dancing-1998

The Earth is my mother
She provides for us all
Feeds all the hunger
Gives shelter to the small

There are my Mother's sisters
Winter, Summer, and Fall
But Spring is the one
I cherish most of all

But first let me tell you
About the other three
Without knowing them
Spring's wonder you'd never see.

I will start with Summer
Her sun so hot and high
Without my brother Rain
My people would surely die

Autumn is the artist
Reds, oranges, and browns
Painting all the leaves
Before they hit the ground

Winter is the frigid one
So often misunderstood
Most see her faults
Rarely her traits of good

Without Fall and Winter
And the silent death they bring
We'd miss all the wonder
Of their sister Spring

Her love brings rebirth
To a world filled with strife
Bringing a new beginning
In the Circle of Life


Echo of the Canyon
A poem by Cloud Dancing-1/4/1999

The river whispers songs
Off the canyon stone
Echoes from the past
Mournful low moans.

The words of elders past
Sound from the red rock walls
Remember the Sacred Ways
Is the message of their call.

Let the spirit soar free
Above the desert sands
Unite in the Great Circle
Of the brotherhood of Man.

Honor Grandfather
Respect Mother Earth
Revere all the Spirits
And Celebrate a rebirth.



The earth is your mother,

she holds you.

The sky is your father,

he protects you.



Rainbow is your sister,

she loves you.

The winds are your brothers,

they sing to you.



We are together always

We are together always

There never was a time

when this

was not so.

From Storyteller by LESLIE MARMON SILKO (Pueblo) b. 1948

Handout 2Print Handout 2


Haiku is a three-line poem, the first line with five syllables, the second line with seven syllables, and the third line with five syllables. A haiku often illustrates some aspect of nature or tranquility.

When the rain falls hard
Birds scamper under the trees
Frogs hide under rocks.

Megan R.
Spring Green Elementary School


In a deep forest
The water is falling gently
The sun was rising.

Fekix Lopez
Centennial Middle School
Miami, Florida


Turtle walking slow
Moving alone on the bank
Swimming in a stream.

Tyson Worrell
Red Rocks Elementary School


Haiku poems from: The Children's Haiku Garden. http://homepage2.nifty.com/haiku-eg/

This Web site contains examples of Haiku poems and illustrations to go with them, created by students from around the world.




Philanthropy Framework:


Sandra, Teacher – New Boston, MI9/17/2007 6:05:31 PM

Unit fit very well with Earth Day.

Submit a Comment

Unit Contents:

Overview:Earth Connections Summary


"Mother Earth" - Past
"Mother Earth" - Present
Let's Experiment!
Reduce, Reuse, Recycle!
Looking at the Data
Let's Make a Plan

All rights reserved. Permission is granted to freely use this information for nonprofit (noncommercial), educational purposes only. Copyright must be acknowledged on all copies.