New Resource! Character Building and Classroom Culture Materials

I recently discovered a new resource I want to share with you! It’s a blog called Come Follow Me FHE (FHE stands for “family home evening,” where your family spends time together at home). Each week, kindergarten teacher, Angie, shares a short lesson about a character-building type topic and includes printables and activity ideas aimed at children.

The lessons are based off of a manual called Come Follow Me, which focuses on the New Testament. If sharing ideas from a religious topic is inappropriate in your school, use the basic ideas of good character to strengthen your students. For example, her second week lesson focuses on the Beatitude. Rather than calling them the Beatitudes, call them “character bees” or say “we should be humble”. I firmly believe these Christian values are critical to good character development in children and will strengthen us as a society.

Here’s a freebie she sent me from week 2: bee coloring page

I also liked week one, with the theme “we are responsible for our own learning.” This. Yes! A thousand times yes!! I went to the manual (available here) and found this lesson idea (I’ve modified it to fit a classroom setting):

Matthew 13:1–23  One great way to help [your classroom] prepare to learn this year is to review the parable of the sower. Your [class] might enjoy looking at different kinds of ground near your home to visualize the types of ground described in the parable. What can we do to cultivate “good ground” in our [classroom]? (Matthew 13:8).

This analogy lends itself to all kinds of discussions. “Our mind is like a garden” or “plant good ideas in our heads” and the list goes on…

Here’s his you get the freebies: Subscribe to the Come Follow Me FHE weekly email. I don’t like to give out my email or subscribe to things (I already get so much email!), But this one is a simple once a week email sent on Tuesdays. I’ve tried it and I don’t get a bunch of useless junk emails. If you missed the previous week’s worth of lessons and activities, you can get them at Angie’s Etsy shop. She’s got cute display printables for each lesson if you like pretty things!

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Rights & Responsibilities of Citizenship

Rights-Responsibilities-citizenship STICKERThe Arizona social studies core has a standard all about the rights and responsibilities of citizenship. Here’s my graphic organizer all about it. Kids should draw an example of each idea listed and then describe it.

Click here for the free printable PDF: Rights-Responsibilities of Citizenship

Wrinkled Hearts: Bully Prevention Lesson

Citizenship is crucial to the success of our society. But it’s not part of any standardized test, so sometimes it’s easy to skip over it. I absolutely loved this lesson plan by Character Education Partnership. This lesson, called “Wrinkle on my Heart,” teaches about empathy, taking responsibility for mistakes when they happen and learning from them, and thinking before you speak/act. It’s very simple, but effective, especially when the teacher posts the wrinkled heart somewhere in the classroom as a reminder. Check it out:

Wrinkle on My Heart

Salt Brook Elementary School

Overview

Engage students in a discussion of the power of their words.

Lesson Objectives

Students will learn about empathy.
Students will learn to take responsibility for their mistakes when they happen and to learn from them.
Students will learn to think before they speak and act.

Materials Needed

Red construction paper heart
Black marker

Procedures

Sit with the children and tell them the red construction paper heart represents the heart of a 5th grader (or another grade level). Ask, “How does it look?” Tell them to notice that it is a nice, big, red, happy heart. Say,” When you’re in 5th grade, many things happen each day – some good, some not-so-good. These not-so-good things can really hurt our heart.” Ask the students what someone could say or do to hurt their hearts. As a child gives an example of what could hurt a heart, put one fold in the heart.

Hurtful answers may include: Tease them, call them names, hit them, gossip about them behind their back, ditch them, tell secrets about them

Continue until you have folded the heart up. Then ask the children, “What have our hurtful words and actions done to our classmate’s heart?” Answers typically include destroyed it and broken it. Ask how students think this person feels. Discuss.

Ask students, “Is there anything we can say or do to fix this heart?” As children give an answer unfold one crease in the heart.

Helpful answers may include: Apologize, say something nice, give a compliment, invite them over to play or eat lunch with you, listen to them, talk to them, be a friend to them.

After the heart has unfolded, ask the children, “How did we do? Did we fix this heart?” Usually you’ll hear a yes and then “Well, no, because it’s still kind of wrinkled.” Allow them to discuss this.
Ask how this person feels now. Lead their discussion to the idea that although we have repaired the heart, the scars are still there. Even when we say we’re sorry, people still remember the hurtful things we did. Ask, “Is it ok for people to do this?” Discuss with them that we all make mistakes and sometimes say or do something hurtful that we didn’t mean. Ask, “What can we do to try to prevent saying or doing something hurtful to someone else?” Lead the discussion to the idea that we can think before we speak.

Write on the heart: No one has the right to put a wrinkle on someone else’s heart. Hang the heart in the classroom, therapy room, or send home as a visual reminder to children.

Teachers can review the lesson with students as needed by prompting them to look at the heart displayed in the classroom.

Assessment

Teachers can assess the activity through application of character education principles.

Credit

Erika Ledder, School Counselor, Salt Brook Elementary School
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Here are some ideas to help keep this lesson alive in your classroom:
Still looking for more ideas like this? Here’s another idea.