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

Making a Choice
Lesson 4
From Unit: Beautiful Me
Academic Standards
Philanthropy Framework


The students respond to the text of Miss Rumphius and write a class book about actions to make the world more beautiful.  Students learn that volunteering time, talent, or treasure for the common good involves choice, commitment, and inspiration. 


One Forty-Minute Class Period


The learner will:

  • respond to the story Miss Rumphius by describing the main character's actions and motivations.
  • brainstorm ideas for volunteering for the common good to make the world more beautiful.
  • create a class book to be donated/shared.
  • define philanthropy as giving of time, talent, and treasure for the common good.
  • sort and graph the trash objects as they are brought from home.

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.

Students create a class book telling how they can make the world more beautiful.  They make a group decision about where to put the book for others to read (e. g. school or public library, hospital, nursing home, doctor or dentist office, day care, women's or homeless shelter, etc.).  In this way, they share the book with others in the larger community and hopefully inspire others to take action for the common good.


  • A copy of the book Miss Rumphius by Barbara Cooney
  • Paper for the class book (optional: Write a sentence starter on the page before copying.)
  • Crayons, colored pencils or markers

Instructional Procedure(s):

Anticipatory Set:
Play the song "See Me Beautiful" (see Lesson Three).  Have students sing and sign along.  Talk about ways to see beauty in people and in the world around us (encourage creativity).  Ask the question, "Is beauty something that you can only see with your eyes?"

  • Show the cover of the book Miss Rumphius (see Bibliographical References).  Tell the students that this is a story about a philanthropist who made the world more beautiful.  She decided to share her time, talent, and treasure for the common good of her community.  Tell students to listen for how and why she did this. Tell them they are going to choose something THEY can do to make our world more beautiful. 
  • While you are reading, stop periodically to ask the students to describe Miss Rumphius.  Write their descriptive words on the board (e.g. brave, creative, smart, selfless, etc.). 
  • After reading, discuss the following questions:
    • Why did Mrs. Rumphius want to do something to make the world more beautiful?
    • How did her grandfather inspire her? 
    • How did Miss Rumphius share her time, talent and treasure for the common good? (She shared her time by planting her seeds, her talent of gardening, and her treasure of her seeds.)  Discuss the definition of philanthropy (sharing time, talent, or treasure or taking action for the common good).
    • Has anyone ever inspired you?  (such as brothers or sisters who are good at sports)
    • What choice did Miss Rumphius have?  Is choice important when you are a philanthropist?  
    • Was Miss Rumphius selfish or selfless with her time, talent and treasures?  Give some evidence for your answers.
    • How did she show commitment to her work of making the world more beautiful?
    • What could you do to make the world more beautiful?  Remember to also think of beauty that you cannot see.  Brainstorm ideas together and write them on the board or chart paper.  
  • Distribute either blank pages or paper with the sentence starter "I can __________________________ to make our world more beautiful."  Have each student write a sentence or fill in the blank with something that he or she can do to make the world more beautiful.  The final copy should be neatly written and have correct spelling.  Younger students may dictate their sentences.  Students illustrate their writing using their best work. 
  • Collect all of their papers and put them into a class book. 
  • Show a picture of a piece of donated artwork.  Explain to them that an artist actually shared his or her talent with the entire community for the common good of all people. 
    Talk to the students about donating their class book to a community place.  Have the students propose places to donate the completed class book (e.g. school or public library, hospital, nursing home, doctor or dentist office, day care, women's or homeless shelter, etc.). 

Note: Continue to sort and graph the pieces of recyclable trash that students bring in from home.  Continue to have students take turns reporting on the numbers of items in each trash container.


  • Teacher observation of student participation during class discussion.
  • Student's finished page for the class book.

School/Home Connection:

Remind the students to bring in their found and recycled objects the next day for the art project.

Cross-Curriculum Extensions:

  • Have each student write a book (fiction, nonfiction, or poetry) about making the world a better place.  Have students use the writing process and read their books to others (in school, family, or community).  
  • Students work in a small group (or as a whole class) to plan and carry out a project to make the class, school or community a more beautiful place. 
  • Teach other songs and read other books about beauty:
    • McKinley, Cindy. One Smile.  Illumination Arts Publishing Company, 2002.  ISBN 0935699236.
    • What a Wonderful World by Louis Armstrong (song)
    • Weiss, George David. What a Wonderful World. Atheneum, 1995. ISBN 0689800878
  • Students write their own song about beauty and caring.

Bibliographical References:

  •  Cooney, Barbara. Miss Rumphius. Puffin Books, 1985.  ISBN:0140505393

Lesson Developed By:

Kathy Hellmann
Mona Shores Public Schools
Ross Park Elementary
Muskegon, MI 49441


Philanthropy Framework:

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Unit Contents:

Overview:Beautiful Me Summary


Cleaning Up
Do Something Beautiful
Sharing Beauty Through Song
Making a Choice
Make Something Beautiful

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