Character education is a topic many districts work to include. The past few years have challenged us, and the importance of social emotional learning has come to the forefront in classroom all around the world. As we look into the eyes of the children in our classrooms, we see potential for great things…generosity, kindness, understanding, respectfulness, and helping hands. Fostering these traits is critical.
Spending energy on celebrating the positive things in life makes a difference to kids. My hope is that these teaching ideas, book suggestions, activities, and resources will support classroom teachers. They show the importance of character education, working as a community of learners, and being inclusive to ALL members of our class. Let’s put a stop to bullying which has become so prevalent in our society.
best books for character education
One of the best way to work on character education is with literature. There are several authors that I will be highlighting today that offer a collection of books for character education. The first is a favorite of mine (and she’s probably not new to the majority), Patricia Polacco.
Patricia lived through bullying, and her experience which is shared within her books provides an opportunity for great talking points. Thank You, Mr. Falker shares what it was like for her struggling to read. Her classmates were unkind, and she suffered.
The sequel to Thank You, Mr. Falker is Junkyard Wonders. It tells about her upper elementary experience and how her teacher built she and her classmates up with showing them how junk can be turned to a treasure. Through the love and support of her classmates and teacher, she learned to be confident and strong.
Character education with julia cook
Another author that has worked hard to build up a collection of character education books and character building texts is Julia Cook. I was lucky enough to meet her not once, but twice. She visited our community as part of a school visit with my school and another locally. [This post] highlights her work. Her books address many mental health conditions, classroom struggles such as attention, tattling, and lying, as well as peer relationships.
Howard binkow and character education
The final author that I actually follow on Twitter is the author of the Howard B Wigglebottom books, Howard Binkow. These books are great for primary grades at the start of the year as you’re establishing classroom routines, but they can be used throughout the year too. In fact, here is a seasonal option about giving.
Activity ideas for character education:
Community building activities are extremely important at the beginning of the year, but are also important all year long. To help you with activity ideas, I created a Pinterest board with the purpose to put resources and such all in one place. Here is the link to the board (and a preview).
From this board, there are a few activities and blog posts that I want to highlight. The first is [THIS POST] for the David books on Cara Carroll’s First Grade Parade. I especially love Cara’s anchor charts for peacemakers and peacebreakers. I can see wonderful discussions coming from generating these.
Another activity I loved is this Student Shout Outs box by Kindness Seeds. How wonderful it would be to have specific examples showcased all over the wall. I think it not only emphasizes acts of kindness, but celebrates the individual which gives a huge self esteem boost.
Another way we can send positive messages to our students is by having a weekly motto. Choosing character building quotes or messages like this sample from one of the motivational posters sets I have in my store or some you may create on your own, posting them (or projecting them) for discussion and keeping them in a prominent location for reference throughout the week provides a reminder to carry it out in our actions.
The guidance counselor at my previous school runs the Bucket Filler program, and I can see these working well together for that. With the Bucket Filler, teachers put in tickets celebrating kids who are doing positive things. When the bucket’s full, names are drawn for special shout outs and prizes.
Tech ideas you might like:
Technology can be very, very helpful in the classroom and at home, but it can also bring out some of our character flaws. One way to make technology a positive influence on character is with a site like Google Classroom or Today’s Meet where you can have a live discussion with students sharing comments (with a moderator reinforcing positive comments).
Today’s Meet works well for those who like Twitter. Prior to your lesson, come up with key questions that are open ended and that lead to deep thinking. Pose these questions and allow time for students to ponder. If you want to tie in internet safety, grab the book, Bully and share it as a lead into the discussion of cyber bullying and internet safety.
Google forms offer teachers a window into the thinking of students too. Teachers can create surveys to gain perspective on their students feels and yet keep things anonymous if needed too.
Another tech tool I’ve used are response paddles. They are great for discussing any type of question, but they can also work well for character discussions too.
kid president on character education
Have you seen The Kid President clips? These are wonderful to use as a hook into lessons. Here’s one about how to change the world. Love it!
other posts on character building:
- ONE FUN WAY TO TEACH CHARACTER CHANGE WITH THE HULA-HOOPIN QUEEN
- EASY WAYS TO TEACH CHARACTERIZATION IN LESS TIME!
- 5 WAYS TO DEVELOP CHARACTER IN THE CLASSROOM LIKE A PRO
Social emotional development starts with teachers who care, and each day, you have the opportunity to connect with your students. With these ideas, I hope it is just a little bit easier.