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

Phil's Garden of Good
Unit of 4 lessons

Unit Overview:

Focus Question: How does an individual use personal interests and strengths to impact the common good? 

Unit Purpose:

The learners discover the joy of caring for and sharing flowers. The students nurture relationships with a master gardener and senior friends and deliver artistic flowerpots with nurtured plants to their friends along with leaf-print personalized notes. 

Unit Duration:

This unit requires about three weeks of time for growing plants.  About three weeks prior to the start of the unit, the teacher will need to start some seeds growing with different variables.

Unit Objectives:

The learner will:
  • listen to a flower-planting demonstration.

  • observe and investigate flowers with the senses of sight and smell.

  • list philanthropists related to this project.

  • invite family members to participate in the community project.

  • use a digital camera.

  • design a plan for the art work on a flower pot.

  • discuss conditions suitable for the growth of plants.

  • identify the major parts of a plant.

  • plant seeds and care for the growing seedlings.

  • record measurements and observations on a graph and in a science log.

  • explain how the love and care needed for plants is similar to that needed by humans.

  • make stationery using a leaf rubbing.

  • paint clay pots to be given as gifts.

  • transplant flowers to the decorated pot.

  • write a letter or poem in a card to be given to a senior citizen.

  • discuss the characteristics of a volunteer and create a name poem using those characteristics.

Service Experience:

Although lessons in this unit contain service project examples, decisions about service plans and implementation should be made by students, as age appropriate.

The experiential component of Lesson One: Planting Phil’s Garden is very personalized. When the students read the motivating story of What If Everybody Gave?, they will be motivated to give in some manner. The students report back in what manner they gave. In Lesson Four: Special Delivery—Handle with Care, the students bring their potted plants and note cards to a retirement facility to give as a gift. They share their time, talent and treasure and establish a relationship with an elderly member of the community.

Unit Assessment:

Assessment methods include teacher observation of student involvement in activities and discussions and student writing performance. In Lesson Two: Planting the Seeds of Knowledge, the teacher may evaluate student participation in class discussion.

School/Home Connection:

  • “Copy-and-Paste” Class/School Newsletter Information Insert:
    Are you a gardener? Do you love putting your hands in dirt? In this unit, we hope to share a little of the joy involved in working with flowers. We will invite volunteers into the classroom to share their knowledge and enthusiasm for plants. The intent of this unit is to raise awareness of the beauty flowers can add to our world and also to celebrate the contribution of volunteers. Our students will feel firsthand the joy involved with giving time, talent and treasure. Students (and volunteers) will ultimately bring a beautiful potted flower to a senior friend at a local retirement facility.

  • Interactive Parent / Student Homework:
    • Lesson One: Planting Phil’s Garden. Students take home the book What If Everybody Gave? They read the book with their families and talk about ways they can give. They should make a plan within their families to carry out an idea on their own initiative. Students can bring a list of brainstormed ideas back to school when they return the books.

    • Lesson Three: Rubbing Elbows with Plants. The students will work with parents to complete a list of 10 volunteers in their community

    • Lesson Four: Special Delivery—Handle with Care. Students share with their families their memory book about their experiences at the senior center.

Notes for Teaching:

  • In this unit, the students read a book called What if Everybody Gave? by Janet Wakefield. The book costs $15 per copy. A grant may pay for enough copies for each student to take one home and read with their families.

  • Teacher should communicate with the senior center before beginning this unit to discuss the schedule and procedures for visiting the facility.

  • Important Planning Note: Three weeks before the lesson, plant six pots of flowers under different conditions (no water, over watered, no sun, fertilized, non-fertilized and optimal). Label each pot with the condition imposed and care for the plants with the given variables for three weeks prior to the lesson (to be used in Lesson Two: Planting the Seeds of Knowledge).

  • Pre-select groups for cooperative activities.

  • Familiarize yourself with the entire unit before beginning.

  • To guarantee success during any season or climate, establish a relationship with a contact person for plants and materials at your local greenhouse or multi-purpose store.

  • Write your own public-relations report for the unit, including a photograph. Include proper spellings, dates and other details. This could be used for publication in local newspaper, on local radio and other communication venue.

  • Check early with your administrator for safe areas to visit and plans for a field trip.

State Curriculum and Philanthropy Theme Frameworks:

See individual lessons for benchmark detail.

Lessons Developed By:

Betsy Williams
Rush County Schools
Rushville Elementary School
400 W. 16th St.
Rushville, IN 46173

Gerald Mohr
Rush County Schools
Rushville Elementary School
400 W. 16th St.
Rushville, IN 46173

James Zachery
Rush County Schools
Rushville Elementary School
400 W. 16th St.
Rushville, IN 46173


Vivine, LEAGUE Coach – Newark, NJ3/4/2010 3:52:34 PM

Each homeroom adopted a plant, therefore this lesson was very rewarding for the students to understand how to care for the plants in their class.

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