Welcome to the World of Character Education

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Charlotte's Web by: E.B. White

Charlotte's Web (Paperback)

Fern, an eight year old girl spends her free time with Wilbur the pig whom she loves and the other barn animals who play a large part in the life of Wilbur. Charlotte, the large grey spider, befriends Wilbur and helps him deal with the shocking news that his life will end as bacon on someone’s plate. Charlotte comes up with a fascinating plan that will make Wilber famous, and keep him alive. She has help from a wide cast of characters, including, Templeton the rat (who never does anything unless there is something in it for himself) to help Wilbur escape death. They become great companions who learn exactly what friendship really means. 

Theme: Friendship
Grades 3-7

  • Do you think complete opposites can become good friends? Why or why not?
  • Write about a time when you weren't quite sure about someone who was trying to befriend you. How did it work out?
  • What would you be willing to do for your friends?
  • Weaving Other Words:Charlotte's webs describe Wilbur, but what might she have to say about the other characters? Have students pick a couple characters and select words that would be fitting for their webs.
  • Write an Obituary: Have students write an obituary about Charlotte. What kind of a character was she? What made her a good friend to Wilber? Will she be missed? If so, why? Choose 3 character traits that decsribe Charlotte and use examples from the story to support your obituary.
  • Write a biography: Students will write a biography of a character's life (Charlotte or Wilber). Were these character's good friends? Why or why not? What made them special. What character traits would you use to describe them?
  • Discussion Question: Is Templeton the rat a good friend? Why or why not? Do you have a friend like Templeton?

Do You Want to be My Friend? by: Eric Carl

Theme: Friendship
Grade: Pre-K-1
A little mouse struggles to find friendship among several critters in the forest. Until finally, he meets the perfect friend in an unsuspecting creature. Lucky for him he met his new friend when he did, because a predator was lurking unseen, but in plain sight!

  • Ask students if they have ever tried to become friends with someone new or if someone has ever tried to become their friend.  When? How could they tell? What did they do (smile, ask to play, say kind word, share, sit nearby, do nice things, etc.)?  How did they feel?
  • Discuss the meaning of being a friend and what good qualities are in a friend. 
  • Discuss the mouse's search for the perfect friend. What good qualities were in each friend he found?
  • Make a friendship rainbow to hang over the entrance way to your door. Use the kids hand prints in each color. Talk about what friends the children have made since they have been in school. What is a good quality about that friend? Why do they like that friend and what activities do they do together? After the rainbow dries hang it over your door with the saying - A Rainbow of Friendship Hand in Hand.
  • A bag of Friendship: Tell students that they will be filling a ziplock bag with items that will remind them about good friends and friendship.
rubber band-to remind students of holding something, like giving hugs when they are needed.
tissue- to remind students to help dry someone's tears (or their own).
button- to remind students to button their lips, if they can't say something positive.
key- to remind students to keep the good things in others and in themselves unlocked.
band-aid- to remind students to help heal hurt feelings.
gold thread-to remind students that friendship is a golden thread that holds people together.
candy kiss- to remind students that everyone needs a treat sometimes.
lifesavers- to remind students that if they share their problems with a friend he or she can come to their rescue.

Then, ask students if they can brainstorm any other objects that would fit into the bag that represents friendship.

Pink and Say by: Patricia Polacco

Theme: Friendship and the Civil War
Grades 3-8

During the Civil War,  Sheldon, a 15 year old was an injured union solider who was found wounded in Georgia by Pinkus Aylee, an African American boy.  One white and one black, both boys struggle to survive during the war. Pink took Say back to his mother's house (Moe Moe Bay), and the two of them nursed him back to health.  Sheldon, who once shook Abraham Lincoln's hand, becomes  close friends with Pinkus and the extroadinary friendship begins. Pink, being the educated one, taught say to learn to read and several other lessons about life. Until one day, after the death of Pink's mother, they were captured and separated from one another. Sheldon lived on to tell the brave story of the man who saved and changed his life.

  • Complete a picture walk and discuss the differences between the two boys in the story.
  • Have you ever been friends with someone who was completely different then you? Did you have anything in common?

  • Photo Album: students will choose 5 scenes from the story they feel represent the strongest moments in Pink and Say's Friendship. Students will then illustrate each scene and write a caption and short paragraph about it.
  • Hands of Friendship-Two students will trace their hands (one over the other) so that it looks as if they're shaking hands. Then, on each finger students can write 5 things about their friendship, or 5 things they learned about the friendship of Pink and Say throughout the story.
  • Pink and Say came from two completely different worlds. Brainstorm ways kids can be more tolerant and accepting of each other. Write them on the board. Then have the children work in small groups to create posters about accepting others. Display the posters in the classroom hallway.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

The Sign of the Beaver by: Elizabeth George's Speare

Topic/Theme: Friendship
Grades 2-5

The Sign of the Beaver (Paperback)
This historical fiction book is about a boy who is left to watch his families alone alone in Maine during the eighteenth century. Matt is twelve years old and learns to survive in the wilderness thanks to a Native American boy named Attean. In return, Matt teaches Attean how to read. They learned to become friends inspite of the many differences their cultures have.

  • Discuss the differences of the Native American and American culture. What are some similarities and differences? Should you judge someone by their culture or beliefs?
  • Do you have a friend who is a polar opposite of you? How do you get along? What do you like about them?

  • Ask students to select passages from the book that signify the developing friendship of Matt and Attean.Have students write a journal entry  about the passages they recovered from the story.
  • Have students complete a  post-card from  Matt's point of view based on how he felt the day Attean left with his tribe.
  • Have students choose a scene from the novel they feel best represents friendship. Students can write a script and act it out. Students can also change the scene to make it a more present day version of their friendship.

I'm Gonna Like Me: Letting off a Little Self-Esteem by: Jamie Lee Curt

Topic: Dealing with one's emotions and self-esteem
Grade: Pre-K-2
I'm Gonna Like Me: Letting Off a Little Self-Estee
Book review:
This piece of text is a feel-good piece for children. This book alternates different points of view between boys and girls. This book teaches children to like themselves and have a positive attitude.

  •  Journal Entry: What are some things you like about yourself? Is there anything you'd like to change? Why or why not?
  • Have students complete a chart before reading and after reading about what they like and how they feel about themselves. Have students compare and contrast after reading the story.

Post-Reading Activities

  • What makes me, me? Students will get ten post-it notes and list ten different character traits about themselves. Once students have finished listing these traits, tell them they must take one trait away. How does the removal of this trait affect you? Continue this process with three more words. Then, give students the opportunity to regain their traits. How do your feelings change?
  • Teaching empathy to students can be a difficult task. You can do this by introducing them to the needs of our elderly by contacting a nursing home. Students can create a greeting card for those who don't have family there to support them.
    • Extension: Students and elderly can become pen pals.

The Sissy Duckling by: Harvey Fierstein

Theme: Bullying
Grades K-3
The Sissy Duckling
Elmer is a duck, but the only thing is, he is a bit different. The other boy ducks like play sports and build forts, whereas Elmer likes to bake cakes and put on a show for everyone. They are constantly teasing him and calling him a big sissy. But the biggest sissy in the world can become a hero overnight. Elmer's father gets a wound from a hunter and Elmer saves the day.

Reading Activities-
  • After reading, have students pair shair the ways the Sissy Duckling was teased and how he was feeling throughout the story.
  • The students and teacher will then read, The Ugly Duckling. Once the Ugly Duckling has been read, have students pair share using the same criteria as before.  Students will then complete a Venn Diagram for each book.
  • Share it, post-it- Students will write down three activities they like to do. Place two categories on the board, Boys and Girls. Have teacher read each post-it and place them under each category. Discuss choices. Can some activities be liked by both boys and girls? Add a new column to your chart: Kids Activities. Look at each post-it over again and determine whether these activities can be liked by both boys and girls. 

The Gold Threaded Dress by: Carolyn Marsden

Buy The Gold-Threaded Dress, Carolyn Marsden, 0763615692
Theme: Bullying and Peer Pressure
Oy is a girl who came from Thailand and went to America. In her country her name was Oy, but when she arrived in America her teachers called her Olivia. Life for her was difficult; girls leave her out of games, and a boy named Frankie teased her. Oy was quite the artist, but when she drew her self portrait with brown hair and round eyes, she found herself the object of ridicule. The children called her, Chinese, which was not her nationality. No one talks to her, until the most popular girl, Liliandra finds out she has a beautiful, silk-threaded dress from Thailand that has been in her family f
or years. Liliandra wants this dress to make her look as beautiful as a princess. The question is, is Oy willing to risk her family's respect and loyalty to become popular?

  • Have you ever been pressured to do something you didn't want to do to earn respect from others?
  • Have you ever used or been used by someone?
  • Put Yourself in Someone's Shoes: Interview a classmate and write a diary entry based on that person's thoughts and feelings about school.
  • Be a journalist-Complete a research project based on the country and culture of Thailand. What are some of their customs? How do they dress? What foods do they eat?
  • Interview a Character: Partner up students so that one character is Oy and the other is Liliandra. Each student will take turns being the reporter. If your school has flipcams or imovie, they can dress their part and complete a news interview that will be played for the class.