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Character Education - Initiative, Courtesy, Citizenship, Promptness, Sportsmanship

Old Proverb: There is a first time for everything.
Helen Keller: It’s not the senses I have, but what I do with them is my kingdom.

A key to children’s success in school is to be self-motivated; to take initiative.  Children who believe in their abilities, even when others do not, are more likely not to give up and better succeed in life.  Let children know you believe that they can accomplish whatever they set their mind to.  Self confidence is vital to a motivated child.  Encourage children to set goals, starting out with one small goal.

Scroll to bottom of post for art activity

Ben’s Trumpet, by Rachel Isadora; Younger
Ben wants to play the trumpet, but he only has an imaginary trumpet.  One day a musician in a neighborhood nightclub discovers Ben’s ambition.

The Rock Club, by Vanessa Clayton; Older   Chicken Soup for the Kid’s Soul
A young girl starts, The Rock Club, a group of children who raise money for the homeless. 

Adopt a cause and decide how to raise money for the cause; a suggestion is collecting aluminum cans, etc...

More Activities:
1. Make a Goal as a family or a classroom.  Go over the guidelines.
            Clearly define the Goal
            Outline the steps needed to reach goal
            Consider possible blocks and ways of dealing with them
            Set a time frame to complete goal
Goal worksheets:

2. Discuss the difference between a wish and a goal.

3. Even with our best effort, there are times we may not reach our goal.  If you do not reach your goal what can you do?

4. Write about the future.  If you can become anything you want when you are an adult, what would it be?  How can you make this happen?

Art Activity: Ben’s Trumpet
With a piece of white copy paper, fill in diagonal lines of different colors at an angle, with color pencils or crayons.  Trace the trumpet outline on the striped paper, cut out the trumpet and glue trumpet on a solid background.  Or, trace the trumpet on black paper, cut out and glue on the striped paper.

English Proverb: Speaking without thinking is like shooting without taking aim.
Author Unkown: Fundamentally, good manners are the embodiment of one's moral respect and consideration of others.

Courtesy is to be polite, using good manners, keeping hands and feet to self, showing consideration to others and respecting someones space.  Thoughtful and polite people get along with each other better.  Saying and hearing the words, please, thank you, can I help you, and nice to meet you can brighten a persons day.  Being courteous to each other brings about a society of civility.  Courtesy means being aware of the people around you and treating them with respect and kindness.

Scroll down for outline to make phone

Eddycat Teaches Telephone Skills, by Ada Barnett, Pam Manquen, and Linda Rapaport; Younger
This book is a good beginning in using telephone manners and skills.

Dude, That's Rude!: (Get Some Manners), by Pamela Espeland;Older
The basics of polite behavior with full color cartoons and kid friendly text.  Manners at home and school, and why their family deserves their best manners.

How Rude!: The Teenagers' Guide to Good Manners, Proper Behavior and Not Grossing People Out, by Alex J. Packer
This is an etiquette book teens will want to read.  It will keep them laughing, isn't preachy, and deals with issues that matter to them. 

Activity: Good Manners
Write or draw about the importance of good manners.  

More Activities:
1. With a real unplugged phone, have children practice good phone manners.

2. Brainstorm ways of showing manners other than using words, (sitting still, behavior with guests or at assemblies, not talking in a theater when the show is on, keeping hands and feet to self...).

3. Respecting someones space is being courteous.  Write about what it means to respect someones space. 

4. Have children introduce each other; look at the person and introduce by name.  Joy, this is my friend Missy, Missy, this is my friend Joy.  Joy and Missy respond with, Nice to meet you.  You can involve a handshake if you wish.

Eddy Cat Teaches Telephone Skills:
Copy border page.  Copy telephone on colored paper.  Cut out and glue together.  Take a toilet paper roll and cut around the roll at a slight angle to make telephone cord, and glue on.

Author Unknown: Coming together is a beginning, keeping together is progress, working together is success.
John F Kennedy: Ask not what your country can do for you; ask what you can do for your country.

We are not just citizens of a country, but citizens of a world.  Good citizenship includes following laws and rules, treating others with respect, and taking care of our environment.  Something as simple as wearing a bike helmet and following bike safety rules are the actions of being a good citizen. 

If Everybody Did, by Jo Ann Stover; Younger
This is a humorous book about the terrible consequences of everyone doing his own thing.  Children and adults alike will enjoy this rhyming tale.

We the People: The Story of Our Constitution, by Lynne Cheney; Older
America had won the Revolution, but the thirteen states were squabbling.  In May of 1787, delegates from across the country, including George Washington, James Madison, and Benjamin Franklin, gather in Philadelphia.  They created a new framework for governing; the Constitution of the United States.  A shaky alliance of states turned into a nation that would prosper.

Discuss the voting process and make children aware that the voting process is not just for the presidential level, but for other forms of government; country, state, and local city levels.  Compare the election process of the United States to other countries in which leaders have taken political position by force or have been born into the position.  The government in the United States derives its power from, “We the people.”  The citizens, common ideas, and freedom make this country great.  Children, who are taught and understand the basics of our political process, will more likely grow up to be voting adults.  Vote on something within your family, classroom or troop; the process can be a lot of fun to participate in.  Choose a topic to vote on such as what to have for dinner, a book, or class activity.

Other Activities:
Brainstorm what makes a good citizen.

Write about someone who you feel is a good citizen.  What qualities does the person have that make them a good citizen?  Which qualities do you have?

Eleanor Roosevelt was the wife of President Franklin D. Roosevelt.  As First Lady she brought attention to the plight of the poor.  Later, she was a force in the drafting of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.  Research Eleanor Roosevelt further and write about her.  

Olin Miller: If you want to make an easy job seem mighty hard, just keep putting off doing it.
Unkown Author: Time can be our mater slave.  It depends only on how we use it.

Simply put, being prompt is being on time.  It means to hand in paperwork or homework on time and doing chores when requested.  Promptness means giving ourselves enough time to reach our deadlines and that we take responsibility when we are late.  Being late holds other people up, whether late to school or to a job.  Being ready and on time, shows respect to us and to others.  We can control our lives by controlling our time.  Procrastination hinders our ability to be prompt.

Clocks and More Clocks, by Pat Hutchins; Younger
The clocks all through the house are set at slightly different times.  What should Mr. Higgins do?  He does not know which clock has the right time.  Mr. Higgins is in for a big surprise when the Clockmaker shows him they are all the correct time.

The Berenstain Bears and Too Much Pressure, by Stan & Jan Berenstain; Younger
The bear family commit themselves to too many activities and they stress themselves out to the point of needing to be more selective in what they choose to do with their time.

Chasing a Dream, by Melissa Harding; Older   Chicken Soup for the Soul, Just for Teenagers
Melissa works diligently for the State Cross Country race, but things do not go according to her plans.

Time 4 Kids and Teens: Time Management Student Workbook, by Elizabeth Franklin; Older
Time 4 Kids and Teens is an introduction to students about time management skills and encourages prioritizing time choices.  It teaches children to have a healthy self image and life skills.  The book is suitable for older elementary to middle school students.

Activity: Time Line
Make individual time lines, or one time line as a family or classroom.  The time line can be for 1 full day, 1 school schedule, or a week of activities.  

More Activities:
Brainstorm what we can do to help us keep on time.

Discuss what can happen if people are late.  For example: The school bus driver is late to work, the school children are picked up late and arrive to school late, the teacher has to stop the class and repeat instructions again for the late children, a school activity is not done because there is not enough time...

Tiorio: You will never be a leader unless you first learn to follow and be led.
Frances Rodman: You may be on the top of the heap, but remember you're still part of it.

Sportsmanship goes beyond playing games.  A person who is a good sport encourages others, is a team member who plays fairly, and a person who follows the rules in life.  Sportsmanship includes respect for others, responsibility for self, and honesty.  People with good Sportsmanship do not cheat, lose their temper, or criticize others.  There is nothing wrong in wanting to win, it's the object of playing games.  It is wrong to think that winning is more important than how we treat others.  Also, a good sport waits patiently in lines at the grocery store, and forms a line without pushing their way to the front.  

The Quarreling Book, by Charlotte Zolotow; Younger
Anger is passed along from person to person, accusing each other unfairly.  Things change with a little dog who starts a chain of happiness.

Winners Never Quit, by Mia Hamm; Younger
Mia loves to play soccer.  That is, until she can't score a goal when her team is about to lose. Before she can lose, she quits!  Mia's brothers and sisters are fed up with her attitude and will not let her play with them anymore.  Will Mia learn that being a team player is more important than winning or losing?

The Kid' (and parents' too!) Book of Good Sportsmanship, by Lesslie A. Susskind; Older
This is an engaging book and a good way to help children understand what sportsmanship means.  It talks about how important it is to be a good sport in soccer, dancing...  Whatever sport you want to learn, learn sports manners through reading about familiar situations.  Parents and teachers will find handy reminders and tips.

Sarah Tucholsky
Discuss Sarah Tucholsky's story and ask yourself, "Would I have helped, or not?"
When Sarah Tucholsky was a senior at Western Oregon University, she had hit her first collegiate home run, when she blew her knee out rounding first.  She was unable to run the basses, and the rules stipulated that if she came out of the game and a pinch runner came in, Sarah would only be credited with a single.  The rules also prohibit her own team members from helping further, but the opposing team do not have those rules.  So, the First Baseman of the OTHER TEAM went up to Sarah and carried her around the bases to home plate.  Sports may never see a greater act of sportsmanship.

1, Roll Play
Senairo: Have children role play a registration for an event.  One child serves as the register, while two others demonstrate how to act and how not to act. 
Senairo: Have two children role play where one talks fairly about his opponents, and one demonstrates how not to talk about his opponents.

2. Have children write one skill or talent they could offer to their team.  I Am A Good Team Member Because...  

3. Discuss ways that sports make sure the rules are followed, (umpires, referees, coaches, judges...).