Making a Difference: Community Helpers Lesson Plans
Children can learn about volunteering and put that knowledge into action with community helpers lesson plans.
By Kristen Kindoll
While December is a time for celebration, it's also a time to think about others. There are a lot of people in our communities who volunteer their time and energy to help those around them. You can teach students about the people who volunteer in their area through community helpers lesson plans. You might also want to tie this in to a discussion of International Volunteer Day, which is in December. Ban Ki-moon, the Secretary General of the United Nations said this, "The cultural form and definition of a volunteer may change depending on circumstances, but the underlying principle never wavers: every individual can make a difference in society." This is especially true with children, who often feel powerless, or that their contributions are insignificant.
International Volunteer Day was introduced in 1985 by the United Nations. The objective was to increase awareness of volunteer efforts, and thank people who have taken time to help others. The Red Cross recognizes the day too. Clara Barton has students research about the founder of the Red Cross. Children study floor plans and maps of Washington, D.C. as part of their research. United Nations has children examine the basic structure of the institution. Students will be able to recognize the symbols and flag by the end of the lesson.
Energize Volunteer Leaders has a list of events held throughout the year. Each month highlights a specific aspect of volunteering. Community Helpers is a good introduction to help children understand what volunteering means. The United Nations lists several volunteer ideas.
There are many ways you can teach children about volunteers. You can contact your local United Nations Association and find out about volunteers in your community. You can find out how the volunteer organizations in your community work to help others, and list what they do. You could have students think of a need in their community, and how this problem might be addressed through establishing a volunteer group. You could even have students pick a particular group they would like to help, and figure out a way to do this. Here are some more lessons to help broaden the concept of altruism.
Community Helpers Lesson Plans:
Philanthropy is Everywhere is one in a series of lessons on creating future volunteers. It has handouts that go with the unit. In the lesson creating volunteers students will begin to see how they can use their own philanthropic resources.
Leadership is created by the 4-H Club. It discusses what it means to be a leader, and how students can implement these skills into their daily lives. Children will also learn about the importance of thank you letters.
A Story of Philanthropy has the concept defined. "Uncle Jed's Barbershop" by Margaree Mitchell will be read out-loud and examined. National Philanthropy Day is explained.