Character Education: Free Resources for Improving Your Classroom Environment
Character education. Just one of the many "things" that has gone by the wayside in this day of testing. It was once important to carve time into daily or weekly plans to teach children how to be good citizens and members of a community. I remember such lessons when I was in school. Now to those who make curricular and financial decisions - if it isn't tested, it isn't important. Teachers know differently and try their best to incorporate character ed topics into other lessons using literature and every day experiences. But sometimes it's nice not to recreate the wheel and just have materials ready for you.
Several years ago I was looking for a character ed curriculum to use in my classroom. I had a group of kids who were just down right mean to each other - and to me. It was clear that they had very little instruction in how to treat others and knew that I needed to do something in order to salvage the year. I couldn't afford to buy a classroom set of materials on my own and was hoping to find something of quality that was free.
I stumbled upon "Ned." Ned is this cute cartoon character who serves as a mascot for the program and whose name is an acronym for the program's principles:
On the site, there are all sorts of resources for K-6 teachers and families including lesson plans, activities, posters, games, awards, printables for classroom walls, and more. For younger kids there are things like crowns, puppets, and patterns to make friendship bracelets. (Images sourced from http://www.thenedshow.com/.)
When I first found this site, I had a sixth grade classroom. I admit that much of the materials were too young for that group. However, the lessons were easily adaptable and videos such as their series on yo-yo tricks and this one on test prep kept them interested (and worked as incentives to getting work done quickly, being respectful to others, etc.).
Overall it's the best character ed curriculum I've found that is free to anyone. Perfect to supplement the lessons you're already using or to jumpstart something new!
UPDATE: Shortly after writing this post, I created two sets of Superhero Character Education posters to help students make "super" choices. The second set is free and was designed to post in hallways and bathrooms. While they didn't fix every behavior issue found in either place, they were helpful in reinforcing ideas throughout the day.
The first set, designed for the classroom, is a paid item and can be found here.