I incorporate character traits into each of my classroom guidance lessons. I’ve mentioned before that my school district focuses on eight specific character traits. I discuss a different trait each time I visit classes. Each trait is assigned to a particular month. So, when I visit, I bring a “scoop of ice cream” with the character trait on it. I begin all of my guidance lessons by discussing the character trait with the class. During our discussion, students are able to make connections and share examples of how they show the character trait in their everyday lives.
After sharing the character trait, we talk about my behavior expectations during the guidance lesson. I remind the class that they are working to earn a new scoop for their ice cream cones. I give each class a cone to display in their classroom for the school year. By the end of the year, they have an eight scoop high ice cream cone. Many teachers display the ice cream cones on the outside of their doors. Others have special spots in their classrooms to display the cones. If students become too talkative during a lesson, many times I only need to remind them that they are working toward earning a new scoop for their cone. It’s just a small incentive to keep students on task throughout the lesson and to give them something to show for doing their best.
I also have an extra large ice cream cone to display outside my office door that grows each month as well. I’ve used it for so many years that it’s a little faded, so I’ll need to make a new one soon.
Do you have a behavior incentive you’ve incorporated in your school counseling program?
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I have discovered several great books while cruising the boards on Pinterest for school counseling ideas. I ordered several late in the school year and decided to “test drive” a couple of lessons with my first and second grade friends.
One book I discovered and ordered is If Everybody Did by Jo Ann Stover. I used this book during a second grade lesson and followed it with a drawing activity. This story illustrates what would happen if everybody did certain things like plucked flowers, slammed doors, and squeezed the cat. The consequences brought laughter throughout the classroom. As we flipped through each page, we discussed why it is important to think about the choices we make. Would there be flowers to look at and smell if everybody plucked them? Even though the over-the-top illustrations elicited laughter, our discussion helped my friends to really think about what would happen if they made poor choices and what a catastrophe the choices could lead too. This lesson tied in very well with our discussion about our character trait of the month- good judgment.
After listening to the story, I gave each child a piece of drawing paper and asked them to illustrate some “If Everybody Did” statements. Some questions were- What would happened if everybody ran in the hallway? What would happen if everybody threw garbage on the ground? What would happen if everybody left their trays on the table in the cafeteria. The ideas they came up with were really cute. Here is one student’s interpretation of what would happen if everybody was late to school:
Another great book about manners is the cute and funny Do Unto Otters, by Laurie Keller. This book is about a rabbit who discovers that otters are his new neighbors. Unsure if they will get along, he talks with owl about it. Owl tells him to treat otters the way he wants otters to treat him. Mr. Rabbit then goes on to name several characteristics he would want the otters to have including being kind and considerate. They should also know when to say please, thank you, and when to apologize. This book reminded me of Simon’s Hook because of the extra dialogue and commentary throughout the book which were created to give examples and to evoke a few giggles!
I printed and copied writing paper from Do2Learn.com and asked the students to write a sentence or two about how they show good manners. After writing, they illustrated the sentence(s). I gave them a list with several options to choose from just in case they couldn’t come up with an idea. Here are a few samples of their work:
Those students who finished before the lesson concluded flipped the paper over to a Do Unto Otters coloring page on the back. I found the picture online at the author’s website. You can find a Do Unto Otters multiple choice, word search, and quiz there as well.
I plan to use these books at the beginning of the next school year and would love to hear of other ideas to try! Connect with me!
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One of the first purchases I made before starting my school counseling job was two sets of books and CDs. I remember going to my neighborhood teacher supply store to find resources for my new job, only to find out the terrible truth. You won’t find any school counseling resources at your regular teacher supply stores. You can, however, find a few things supporting character education. So after grabbing some character ed. resources, I stumbled upon these character education readers published by Creative Teaching Press. Each set contains six books and one CD. I can tell you, I haven’t skipped a year without using them!I really enjoy singing songs with my Kindergarten friends. They have come to expect a new song each time I visit.
Our school system focuses on eight specific character traits, and I have a song to go with each one.
- Responsibility- You Can Count on Me!
- Respect- Following the Rules
- Courage- Dare to Have Courage
- Kindness- Everyone is Special and Unique or Show You Understand
- Self-Discipline- Think Before You Act
- Integrity- Telling the Truth
- Perseverance- Never Give Up!
- Good Judgment- Would It Be Right?
It doesn’t hurt that I enjoy singing. The words in the books are the lyrics to the songs. The chorus is usually easy enough for the kids to pick up. By the second play, they are singing right along with me. I love it! It is a great way to help the smaller ones understand what those BIG character words really mean. Once they are in first grade, I’ll sing a line or two to remind them of the meaning of the character trait we are discussing. Many of them will still remember the choruses.
There is a resource book that goes along with the character readers. You can make individual student readers for small groups and use the additional activities to go along with each of the books. Most companies sell these books individually or as a complete set. You can still find them in six packs as well. You can also purchase the CD separately. There are four additional books about various topics including sharing, friendship, compassion, and cooperation. These books are great for lower elementary age groups.
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My school district has adopted eight character traits. Each month, we focus on one trait. As I visit students during classroom guidance, we talk about the trait of the month. Students take turns sharing examples of how they have shown the character trait in their daily lives.
The school year is coming to a close, and I wanted to review with my second grade friends all we have learned this year about good character. As I mentioned in a previous post, I want to incorporate foldables into some of my classroom guidance lessons. I created this simple foldable to use for the character trait review lesson with second grade. Similar to my preparation for the testing tips foldable, I drew and copied the lines on manila paper ahead of time and pre-folded the paper. The students only needed to cut the seven lines on the left side of the paper to create the eight flaps for this foldable. Using a document camera, I demonstrated where and how far to cut. (I loooove the document camera!)
After cutting the flaps, the students wrote one character trait on each flap. Using the document camera, I displayed each character trait one by one as the students wrote them. The next step was to write a kid friendly definition of each trait on the opposite side of the flap. I shared each one by one for the students to add to their foldables.
Next, the students wrote one sentence for each character trait beginning with “I will…” I asked them to write how they will display each trait going forward. I showed examples of each, but I encouraged them to come up with their own.
Finally, the students used the remainder of the time to decorate and color their foldables. Some of the students volunteered to share their “I will” statements for a few of the character traits. Many of them really thought about areas where they could improve in order to show the traits.
I’m always looking for new character education ideas to use in my school counseling program. I’d love to hear your ideas. Connect with me