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Sample Lessons/Activities

There are many ways to integrate the concept of the greater good within all of your subject areas.  Below are some possible topics and ideas for how they can used within the classroom.  They are listed by subject area.  Click on the links for sample 45 minute lesson plans covering some of these topics.


Social Studies

Topics include: careers that help others, the meaning of citizenship, what is the “common good” and who defines it, community, cost/benefits analysis, money, needs vs. wants, and responsibilities of citizens and community members.

Some ways to include these concepts in your classroom: interview someone who works for a non-profit, do a social service project, talk to a local representative, visit community helpers who provide a public service (fire or police station), or have a round-table discussion about the meaning of citizenship and how you see citizenship around you.

Local Second grade students recently went on a field trip to the Magic House (local Children’s Museum) to explore how various people in the community rely on each other to create the environment in which we live.

Citizenship and Interdependence: Responsibilities of citizens


Communication Arts

Possible topics in Communication/Language Arts include: knowledge of audience, using inferences to predict the outcome of a story, text to text connections (how messages relate to each other), text to self connections (how the message of the story impacts me), text to world connections, and the importance of various writing styles.

Fiction books like One Smile by Cindy McKinley can be used to demonstrate the power of doing something nice for others.  Text to text connections, and personal connections can be easily made byusing this book.



Books like Fairytale News by Colin and Jacqui Hawkins can be used to demonstrate different writing styles, and introduce newswriting.  Newsmagazines like Scholastic News, Time for Kids, and Sports Illustrated Kids are also great for showing kids different writing conventions, and how those conventions can be used to Pay it Forward.

Good News Newsmagazine, Day 1: Creating your own media highlighting the common good



Some math topics that blend well with the concept of “Paying It Forward” can be as simple as equality, growing patterns, and qualitative change.  Some of the higher thinking concepts include inquiry–such as posing questions, gathering data, and describing and classifying results.

Activities that explore what it means to be equal, or what it means to make change (monetary, or otherwise) are accessible through curriculum-based instruction, or local resources.  Many representatives from banks, children’s museums, and local charities are usually willing to act as resources to your classroom.


Donation Investigation: Estimation, Probability, and Multiplication




Many topics in Science relate well with the ideals of Common Good and “Pay it Forward”…especially topics that pertain to the environment, life cycles, natural resources, etc., as well as scientific concepts of inquiry, observation, prediction, and problem resolution.

Activities such as examination and discussion of the Great Pacific Garbage Patch (Pacific Trash Vortex), impact of the oil spill, or simple observation of habitats can spark discussion on how students can begin to Pay it Forward.  Several local resources are available.  The first few that come to mind are zoo habitats, recycling centers, whole grocer/farmers market, and forest preserves.

Habitat Observation: Predicting the Effect of Humans on the Environment

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