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Character Education - Patience, Tolerance, Respect, Fairness, Truthfulness, Cooperation

Old Proverb: Good thing comes to those who wait.
Chinese Proverb: Patience and the mulberry leaf becomes a silk robe.  

Patience is the ability to endure waiting, or delaying gratification without becoming annoyed or upset.  It is waiting with the right attitude.  Patience can help develop the ability to think through and resolve problems.  It's not always easy to wait, especially for children, however waiting patiently becomes easier if we find ways to occupy our time through reading, thinking up a story, or thinking about what we enjoy.  We often become impatient with others over what we expect from them; it is not only important to be patient with ourselves, but also with others.  A good example of patience are the steps it takes to reach a goal, or the patience it takes to learn to ride a bicycle.

The Carrot Seed, by Ruth Krauss; Younger
A young boy is told that his carrot will not grow.  After a long time of pulling weeds, watering and patience the carrot finally grows, and it is huge.

Art Activity: Carrot 
Scroll down to bottom of patience for outline, copy carrot and leaves, cut out and glue the leaves onto the carrot.

The Wright Brothers, by Quentin Reynolds; Older
The Wright brothers inventions were always a step ahead from everyone else.  It took numerous tries, but they invented the worlds first flying machine.

Sitting for 1 minute seems like a long time when watching the clock, (Can use an egg timer).  With color pencil or crayon write the word, Patience, on a piece of paper.  Sit and quietly watch the clock for 1 to 3 minutes (depending on the age).  Take a different color pencil/crayon and trace over the word, Patience.  Watch the clock for another 1 to 3 minutes.  Continue with this process.  When you are finished, children can cut around the word and glue it on a piece of colored construction paper.  

More Activities:
1. The following group games help teach patience.
*Red Light Green Light 
*Mother May I

2. Baking takes patience and is a wonderful teaching tool.

3. Grow a plant.  The time it takes to plant, water, care for the plant, and watching it slowly grow is a wonderful payoff.  At home each child can plant their own plant, or as a family a vegetable can be grown.  For classrooms each child can grow a small plant, or have one classroom plant.

4. Playing board games is a good way to teach patience, since everyone takes a turn.  Set up the game and read the rules out loud so each player is aware of how to play the game.  When you read the rules, stress the importance of giving each player time to play their own turn.

Voltaire: All men are equal; it is not birth but virtue alone that makes the difference. 
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.: The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.  I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up, live out the true meaning of its creed:  we hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal.

Every person is special and unique in their own right.  Tolerance is accepting that every person is different, and giving each person room to do their own thing.  Tolerance is understanding and respecting that people have different cultures and are different nationalities.  And, because we come from different cultures, we have a variety of different skin, hair and eye color.  Treating all people with respect and understanding our differences makes the world far more interesting.  Our world is filled with people who have different talents, gifts and skills that we bestow on each other. 

How Would You Feel:
Imagine you are in school in California and a new student arrived from the South.  The teacher introduces the new student to the class and asks him to tell the class a little bit about himself.  When the boy begins to speak, the children laughed because of the boy’s Southern accent.  Put yourself in this boys place.  How would you feel if the same thing happened, to you?  What if you moved to the South and started a new school and your teacher asks you to tell something about yourself to the class.  What if the children laughed at you when you talked, because you do not talk like they do.  How would you feel?

Paul and Sebastian, by Rene Escudi and Ulises Wensell; Younger
Paul’s and Sebastian’s mothers won’t let them play together because they live in different types of homes; one lives in an apartment and the other in a trailer.  One day the boys get lost.  The boy’s moms learn a lesson in what is important.

Daughter of Sunshine, by Carol Kline; Older   Chicken Soup for the Soul
Daughter of Sunshine is a true story about a boy falling into the gorilla area at a zoo.  A gorilla, Binti Jua, shows compassion to the boy, helps place him where keepers can reach him, and did not care that the boy was of a different species.  We all can learn from Binti Jua.
(Story can be found at

Activity: The Salad
America is called a melting pot referring to how many different cultures we have living in America.  Show an example of a melting pot by making a tossed salad in front of your children.  First just add the lettuce; by itself the lettuce is boring.  Now one at a time, add the different vegetables and then toss the salad together.  By adding the vegetables to the lettuce you have ingredients that have their own identity, while making the salad better as a whole with different colors and shapes.  Try to use vegetables with a variety of color.  Remind students that it doesn’t matter if they like the taste of the vegetables, in order to understand the thought or concept.

More Activities:
1. Compliment day.  Have children practice giving compliments.  Make a list of compliments to choose from in case children need help.  Make sure every child receives a compliment.

2. In character education, tolerance means acceptance.  Discuss the difference in tolerating and accepting.  (Accepting means not to pre-judge on appearance or customs that are strange to us).  There are situations no one should tolerate such as lying, stealing, or abuse.  In this case find a trusted adult to talk to.

3. Brainstorm a list of foods that originated from other countries.

4.We may look different from each other, but otherwise people all over the world are alike.  Brainstorm all of the ways people are alike.  (Food, shelter, clothing, need to feel loved, need air to stay alive, grow old...).

5. Stereotypes; Representations that are not accurate, or, an oversimplified standardized image of a person or group.  Make a list of stereotypes such as, all Italians can sing, all girls are not good at math.

Author Unknown: That which I respect I do not harm.
English Proverb: Speaking without thinking is like shooting without taking aim.

Respect is showing consideration to yourself, other people and their property; treating others as you would like to be treated.  We show respect when we are sensitive to the feelings of other people.  When we treat someone with respect we show they are valuable to us.  Respect is having an appreciation for other peoples differences and cultures.  We show respect by how we talk to someone, the tone of voice used, and what the meaning of our words are.  Just as important is how we listen while someone is speaking to us.  When people tease, spread gossip, and call people names, they are not only disrespecting someone else, they are disrespecting themselves.

Ladies First, by Shel Silverstein; Younger
(On the Album, Free To Be… You And Me.  Read by Marlo Thomas
Or, find transcript of story at:

Ladies First is about a young girl who always puts herself first ahead of others.  She did not show respect to anyone.  In the end, being first did not work out so well.  

Art Activity; Scroll down to the bottom of respect for outlines, enlarge and print out paw print, leaves, and wording on white paper.  Cut around items and glue on white paper.

The Lorax, by Dr. Seuss; Older
The main theme of this story is to be kind to the earth; have respect for the place we live.  In a fun way the story address' greed, what happens when bad choices are made, and in the end making amends.  It is in the Dr. Seuss whimsical rhyming style, delightful creatures, and a powerful message.  

ArtTruffula Trees
Scroll down to the bottom of respect for outlines.  You will need one piece of blue construction paper for the background.  Copy Truffula outlines on color paper or trace on colored paper, cutout and glue to create a Truffula Forest.  For the green lawn, cut down the center of a piece of construction paper lengthwise, with a wave.  With a black felt pin draw lines for tree trunks, and outline the grass, pond and clouds.  If you are patient and have a steady hand, outline the truffula tress, also.  

1.For one day have children call each other by their last name using Ms. or Mr.; they will feel special and feel respected.

2. Fold a piece of paper in two to make two columns.  On one side write Benefits, and on the other side write Challenges.  America is a country called the melting pot because there are so many different nationalities living here. Brainstorm and make a list of the benefits of living with people from other cultures, and what the challenges are of living with people from different cultures.  

3. Show respect with good listening skills.  Have children brainstorm what good listening skills are.  Practice listening skills as a group.  The parent or teacher models a roll play with a child.  Select two people at a time to roll play good listening skills.  With a large group you may want to select 6 people to roll play.  Give ideas of topics to talk about like your pets, a vacation, what do you do on the weekends.  The person talking, talks for 1 or 2 minutes.  It is fun for the parent or teacher to demonstrate what NOT to do while listening before the roll plays begins.  Role Play Rule: Be respectful and absolutely NO laughing during the role plays.  Clap at the end.

The Lorax


Elbert Hubbard: A cheerful loser is a winner.
Arabic Proverb: Ask me what is my virtue, not what is the color of my skin.

The definition of fairness is, not favoring one above another.  The most basic description of fairness for young children is taking turns.  Fairness is to see things from the other side, or the other point of view.  Fairness is getting to know someone without pre-judging them.  It does not insure equality, but it tries to insure equal opportunity.  Stereotypes and prejudice are not fair to anyone.  

Berenstain Bears; The Trouble With Chores by Stan and Jan Berenstain; Younger
Papa Bear and the cubs don’t want to do chores! Is that fair to Mama Bear?  What will happen if Mama Bear stops cleaning up since no one will help her?

Harvesting Hope (The Cesar Chavez Story), by Kathleen Krull; Older
Cesar Chavez is one of America's greatest civil rights leaders.  He led a 340 mile peaceful protest march through California.  He brought to the forefront a cause, and improved the lives of thousands of migrant farm workers.  As a boy, Cesar was shy, teased at school and grew up very poor.  As an adult he cared enough to lead people to charge, and an entire country listened.

Activity; The Egg
(Needed: clear drinking glass, 1 cup water, 1 fresh egg, 1/4 cup salt, and a tablespoon).
Place 1 cup water in the glass.  Name your egg; I am calling the egg Bob.  Do not use a name of anyone present or in the classroom/troop.  Carefully add Bob (the egg), to the glass.  Explain that Bob represents someone who is not being treated fairly, and the unfair treatment continues over and over.  Bob has sank to the bottom of the glass which represents how he feels.  He feels like someone who is sad, mistreated, depressed, and defeated.    

Remove the egg from the water.  Add salt 1 tablespoon at a time.  As you stir in every tablespoon of salt, explain that the salt represents all of the ways to show fairness toward other people.  (Give examples): Taking turns, being honest, treating others with respect, helping someone who is not being treated fairly.  

After all of the salt has been stirred in, carefully place Bob back into the water.  Explain: If Bob has been treated fairly, he floats!  Now Bob feels supported with kindness, feels accepted by others, and is being treated fairly.

More Activities:
1. Playing fair is playing by the rules.  There are rules so that everyone has a fair chance to win.  Take a game everyone knows.  Brainstorm the rules of the game.  

2. Saying statements like, He's too big, she can't do it, or all children are mean, are pre-judging statements.  Brainstorm a list of comments that pre-judge.  Pre-judging is not treating someone fairly.  

3. A classroom has rules that students raise their hand before speaking.  Brainstorm what would happen if anyone could talk whenever they liked, what problems might come up, and why it isn't fair. 

4. Discuss: What if only people with green eyes could drive, or only people with blue eyes could vote?  Is it fair?  Does it pre-judge?  (Why or why not?)

Sophocles: The truth is always the strongest argument.
Christopher Morley: Things are never quite the same somehow after you have to lie to a person.

Very young children can confuse the difference on where their imaginations end and the truth begins.  A lie has the intent to make someone believe something they know is untrue.  Lies break trust and it is then more difficult for others to believe us, even when we are telling the truth.  When a lie is told, often more lies have to be told to back up the original lie.  If telling the truth would hurt someone’s feelings, say nothing, or honestly admit you do not know.  The best teaching tool of truthfulness and honesty is for parents and teachers be a model the trait.  Praise your children when they are honest, and try not to lose your temper when children lie.  Take the circumstance and turn it into a teaching moment.  Ask the child how next time, should the situation be handled.  

The Emperor’s New Clothes, by Hans Christian Anderson
A classic story of a child who was the only one, brave enough to tell the truth.  A vain emperor was naked after he had been tricked by two tailors.

Art Activity: Emperor
Scroll to the end of Trustworthiness.  Cut out, glue pieces and color hair, color coloring page, or draw your own Emperor.

Winners and Winners, by Al Covino   4th course of Chicken Soup for the Soul
Time ran out, and a young man had to give the news to the coach.  This is a good story with a twist at the end. 

1. The Gossip Game; the parent or teacher whispers a sentence in the ear of the first child.  That student whispers and repeats what they think they heard to the next child, and down the row it continues.  The last person then repeats what they think they heard out loud.  The parent/teacher says the original sentence.  Odds are they will not match at all.

2. Brainstorm what makes a person trustworthy.  Write or draw a picture about someone you trust.

3. Have students write about this scenario: You have a best friend named Amber and there is another girl you do not get along with very well.  The two girls are accused of taking chocolate off of the teachers desk.  Amber wants you to tell the teacher you saw the other child take the candy, but you didn’t see anyone take the candy.  What do you do?

4.  What if people wore bracelets that would cause an alarm to go off when a person is lying?    If this bracelet existed and you could vote for this devise, would you vote to require everyone to wear one, or not?    

Emperor’s New Clothes; cut out and glue together on a piece of construction paper

Coloring Page

Burkina Faso: An axe does not cut down a tree by itself.
Nelson Mandela: If you want to make peace with your enemy, you have to work with your enemy.  Then he becomes your partner.

Cooperation means working together and getting along.  Cooperating means to listen, share, take turns, and compromise.  It is important to show appreciation to others, and include everyone.  The benefits of cooperation are part of our everyday lives.  Sports teams, families and almost any group will work far better together when they unite and make an effort to get along. 

The Great Big Enormous Turnip, by Alexi Tolstoy
A farmer grows an enormous turnip and needs a lot of help to pull the turnip out of the ground. 

Live It: Cooperation (Crabtree Character Sketches), by Marina Cohen
Live It: Cooperation offers character sketches around the issue of cooperation

Art Activity: Paper Letter
It takes cooperation to work as a group.  As a family or small groups in a classroom, make paper art taking turns working on the project.  Decide what letter you will use.  A family may want to use the letter of their last name, a group may want to use a letter that represents an important word or the name of their school.  Draw a wide letter on a piece of construction paper.  Using small pieces of copy paper or tissue paper, scrunch the paper up and glue it on the outline.  It's easiest to glue on half of the outline, fill in and put on second half of the outline as you come close to it.  

Activity: The Web (adapted from Debbie Gilbert Taylor)
(Need a ball of yarn or string; this is a small to large group activity)
Have children sit in a circle.  Tell the children to make sure they hold on to the yarn when it comes to them, and not to let go of the yarn.  Give the ball of yarn to one child and instruct the child to hold on to the end of the yarn.  Have the child roll the ball of yarn to another child on the other side of the circle.  The recipient of the ball of yarn holds onto the yarn so that it is stretched out.  While keeping the yarn stretched, the child rolls the yarn to another child on the opposite side.  Continue this process until everyone is holding piece of yarn.   

In the center of the circle a web has been formed.   Tell the children to keep holding on to their yarn while the parent/teacher steps toward the center of the web and one at a time, tugs on a part of the yarn.  Ask which student felt the pull.  Repeat this process until everyone has felt a tug.  Explain that if one person did not hold on to the yarn, the web wouldn’t be complete; we are working and connected together.

Other Activities:
1. Sing a song in round like, Row Row Your Boat.  It takes cooperation to sing a round.

2. Are you cooperative?  Go through the list and decide by writing Y for yes next to the skills you have, and N for needs to improve for skills you need to work on.
1.      Listen carefully to others
2.     Willing to share
3.     Take Turns
4.     Do the very best that I can
5.     Can problem solve when a conflict arises
6.     Show appreciation and encouragement to others
7.     Include everyone
On skills you need to improve on, what can you do to make improvements?

3. Brainstorm a list of what is good about cooperation, and/or what difficulties can arise when people are not cooperative with each other.

4. Write about a time you cooperated with someone and how you worked together, or about a time cooperation was needed but not used and what happened.

5. Learn about the cooperation of bees or ants.  Do research and find out facts.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for all these wonderful ideas. May I give a link to your blog on mine?