In Teachers' Advice

Character Education Lesson Plans for Teachers and Counsellors

character education lesson plans

While it is important for children to see an example of good character, they cannot learn by example alone. Character education is an important part of any child’s upbringing and will enable the child to become honest, successful and happy and at peace with him or herself. Discover more about creating character education lesson plans. 

Planning character education classes can be hard work, but it is worth it. Teaching reading or math in a haphazard manner will result in learning gaps in a child’s education; the same holds true of character education. While there are many ways in which character education classes can be planned and presented, what is important is that the teacher has the material prepared ahead of time and has taken the time to ensure the class will be understandable and enjoyable for his or her students.

Character Education Lesson Plans Elementary

The younger a child learn character skills, the better. It is often easier to teach younger children these all important skills than it is to instruct older children; however, the lessons must be age appropriate in nature if they are to be as effective as they are meant to be.

One good way to teach character skills is by choosing a skill a month. Some good skills for children of this age include:

If you are new to teaching character education and are unsure where to start, consider taking advantage of the following resources:

  • The All American Girls Series – A series that is particularly ideal for girls. Each movie features a girl who, along with her family, learns about love, honesty, consideration, compassion and/or other virtues.
  • Animated Hero Classics – A series of cartoons, each one half an hour in length. Famous characters featured include Alexander Graham Bell, Abraham Lincoln, Harriet Tubman, Thomas Edison and Marie Curie. Children will learn virtues such as honesty, teamwork, perseverance and compassion. Each of these cartoons comes with its own workbook with activities and questions for children; these workbooks can be purchased or easily downloaded from the internet.
  • The Help Me Be Good Series – These books are ideal for younger children (up to grade 3). Each one covers a particular behavior (i.e. lying, bullying, anger, etc.) and teaches children why the behavior in question is wrong and what it means to do the right thing. The books have engaging illustrations that will make kids want to hear the stories again and again; they also provide plenty of opportunities for teachers to ask students questions and listen to their answers.
  • Good Character Teaching Guides for Elementary Students – A great online resource with questions, assignments and activities on various topics. Many of these are also available in Spanish.
  • Moral Values for Children Series – Short PowerPoints in English and Spanish covering various topics such as integrity, respect, tolerance, perseverance and gratitude. Many of these also come with coloring pages.

Character Education Lesson Plans Middle School

Character education for middle school students should be presented in a very different way than character education classes for elementary students. However, most if not all of the values that younger children learn should also be taught to older students. Respect, tolerance, honesty, responsibility and other values are imperative to learn about regardless of age or background.

If you are looking for good classes on these and other topics, you may want to consider having a look as some of the resources offered by Character.org and Goodcharacter.com. Many of these are ideal for a classroom setting, although a teacher will naturally want to pick and choose which ones are most appropriate for any given group.

It is very important for middle school children to be given the opportunity to think about and articulate why any given value is important. Younger children often learn that particular values are important because parents and teachers say so; while such an education is certainly not inappropriate for young grade school students, it is imperative for older kids to learn how to hold to a particular value even if no one is watching and/or there appear to be no negative consequences for bad behavior.

Using “What if” questions with middle school kids is a good idea. Such questions should involve situations children are likely to face and every single child in the class should be encouraged to answer without fear of being made fun of or other negative repercussions. After everyone has answered, take the time to explore answers further (for instance, “You said you would shoplift if you knew that you could get away with it. What would the consequences for doing so be? Perhaps the store would go out of business. Maybe it would raise prices to make up for the loss…”)

Character Education Lesson Plans High School

Goodcharacter.com offers a number of lesson plans for teaching character education to high school students. These plans are ideal for a classroom setting and can be used by large and small groups alike.

Not for Sale is yet another particularly good resource that high school teachers and counselors will want to take advantage of. This particular series is geared to older high school students who will be getting a job in the near future and covers topics such as honesty and integrity in the workplace, whistle blowing and personal responsibility. Even younger high school students will find this program to be eye-opening and informative, especially given the fact that many high school students may take on one or more part-time jobs before graduation.

Studying and talking about the lives of men and women of integrity can help high school students learn how to put values into practice in the real world. As students learn about these famous men and women, they will come to understand that living a life of integrity does not lead to instant gratification, wealth and a life of ease; however, integrity is in itself its own reward and offers benefits that money could never buy, including peace of mind and sound relationships with family and friends.

Some good characters from history to learn about include:

  • Martin Luther King
  • Corrie Ten Boom
  • Gandhi
  • Helen Keller
  • Florence Nightingale

General Character Education Points

Following are some points to bear in mind when teaching character values to children of any age:

  • Keep the class moving. If children get stuck on one particular question, skip it and move on to another one, or rephrase the question to make it easier to answer.
  • Give children a homework assignment on the topic if at all possible. Doing so gets children talking about character values with their parents. Involving parents in your character education classes is invaluable, as children need to see that mom and dad support what the teacher is teaching.
  • Do not hesitate to adapt or modify a lesson plan. Children are different and a plan that worked well for one group of kids may not be suitable for another group.
  • Make the class as fun as possible. Do not drone on; instead, keep lessons short and to the point.
  • Try to include everyone. Encourage shy kids to speak up and share their opinions and make sure that outspoken children give other people time and opportunity to answer questions.

Character education is one of the most fulfilling topics you could ever hope to teach. While skills such as reading, writing and math are imperative, having a sound character is also vital to success. Children and young people who hope to be happy and fulfilled in life must learn to be honest, kind, unselfish, responsible, self-disciplined and life lives of integrity.

Be aware that it will take time and a great deal of patience to teach any given character skill. Children, like adults, have often formed bad habits that take time to break, so do not get discouraged if children exhibit behavior that is diametrically opposed to what you are teaching. As you emphasize particular skills in class, children will grow in their character skills bit by bit. The material you teach, coupled with the good example that you set for your class on a daily basis, will make a big difference in the lives of those you touch and the children or teens in your care will never forget your lessons.

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