SUBJECT: __________________________________


If you are starting the process of formally integrating values into the curriculum start with the small step of determining one lesson for the next monththen grow from there.


Key content/skills you will teach:



Core ethical issues that relate to the topics you will teach:



Connections between content and/or skills with character development:



Specific connections with:


















Most appropriate strategy to allow students to engage these topics:

Individual Activity



Cooperative Learning



Group Brainstorming



Small group activity



Finished product





1.      Keep an "character journal" of the Six Pillar choices you have made.


2.      Write about a special event in your life. How did it affect your character?


3.      Make a personal time line showing significant events that have affected your character development.


4.      Write an acrostic using one of the Six Pillars.


5.      Write a poem using the pillar. Give guidelines for the type of poem (haiku, etc.).


6.      Students can be asked to divide one page in their journal into four boxes. In the first box they write, "Where am I?" In the next box, "Where am I going'?" In the third, "What obstacles do I face?" and in the fourth, "What pillar will I need to overcome these obstacles?" Students answer each question.


7.       Imagine that you have been given a time machine and are on your deathbed. What do you want people to say about you? What pillars do you want to have showed? What motto do you want your life to have exemplified?


8.      Like Pilgrim's Progress, each person's life can be mapped out. Make a story map of your life. Parents could be asked to help with this by providing dates.


9.      Choose one pillar. Use colored markers to write the word in any kind of lettering you choose. Make a design around the word.


10.  Choose a pillar and write it at the top of the page. Then write as many examples as you can.


11.  When you have a rough decision to make, what do you do? List strategies.


12.  Write a class book about a pillar. Every student contributes a story about the pillar.


Taken from Comprehensive Character-Building Classroom - A Handbook for Teachers, by Lori Sandford Wiley, PH.D., 1998.



         Writing assignments - What did the main character do that showed respect, responsibility, etc.? Write an essay: "My hero is a person of good character." Compare the character traits shown by two national figures.


         Social courtesies - Teach students to write thank-you notes, help them understand the etiquette of interview situation, etc.


         Media literacy - What are the messages about characters which are being communicated in popular television programs and movies? How can students become more informed media consumers?


         Help students formulate opinions and express them through letters to the newspapers.


         Create slogans of signs about events or public concerns such as littering.


         Use literature, demonstrating feelings and discuss the characters. Give students opportunities to express feelings.


         Use multicultural literature or literature about people who are different from the students.


         Discuss the differences and similarities between people. Emphasize that we should respect differences.


         Write get-well cards for ill classmates or staff members.


         Read stories about people who help others then discuss ways students can show they care about others.


         Discuss the actions of the characters in stories, e.g., "What would be the honest thing to do?"


         Act out stories where the characters demonstrate qualities such as the six pillars. Talk about what would happen if the character failed to do the right thing. How would the story change and how would their actions affect others in the story?


         Discuss, establish, and make classroom rules.


         Provide "what if..." scenarios for creative writing or discussion.


         Discuss the fairness or unfairness in the plot of a story.


         Write essays about persons of character and the actions they might exhibit.


         Use story starters: "When I look in the mirror..." "I make a difference..."


         Make posters with a quote and /or illustrations that support one of the pillars.


         Make a class book or individual books that emphasize one of the pillars and share them with a buddy class.


         Conduct a scavenger hunt to observe various activities.


         Use newspaper and magazine articles and have students locate the six pillars in words and actions.


         Compose your own character song.


         Have students interview someone they think displays ethical actions.


         Write book reports on books depicting a character - outline the six pillars.


         Show a movie with a meaningful message and create a list of good characters.


         Write a commercial with a character message.


         Make a list of behaviors for a given pillar.


         Keep track of good and bad characters in the literature you read all week. Graph the results.




Sam travels from New York City to Los Angeles to meet his friend, Clu. First, Sam needs to find out what gang Clu belongs to. There are three gangs:

         The Fats, who always tell the truth

         The Skinnies, who always lie, and

         The Muscles, who sometimes lie and sometimes tell the truth.


Sam meets three people, one from each gang. He asks each of them two questions:

1.      What gang do you belong to?

2.      What gang does my friend, Clu, belong to?


Targa (#1) says, "I am not a Fat. Clu is a Skinny."

Braun (#2) says, "I am not a Skinny. Clu is a Muscle."

String (#3) says, "I am not a Muscle. Clu is a Fat."


Can you figure out what gangs Targa, Braun, and String belong to? Can you identify Clu's gang from the information they gave Sam?


Math Scams

         Until 1989, an American cereal came in a box that measured 9 V^" x 6 5/8"x 2 1/8" and contained 12 ounces of cereal. In 1989, the company introduced a new box. It measured 1 3/8" higher and contained 12.2 ounces of cereal. The volume of the box grew almost 15; the amount of cereal increased by less than 2. Printed across the front of the box were the words, "New Larger Size."


         A car dealer in Illinois advertised a "1/2 PRICE SALE" in giant letters. The second line, in much smaller letters, read, "The price you see is half the price you pay."


         A Canadian company invited Lotto players to join a "Winners Club." Instead of playing Lotto - alone, club members would play in a group of 200. Each group was guaranteed to win at least $1250. Divide $1250 by 200, and you get-$6.25 - each member's guaranteed minimum winnings share.  Joining the Winners Club cost $29.95 plus $2 postage and handling.


Taken from The First Honest Book About Lies, by Jonni Kincher. 1992.


Math calls for scrupulous honesty, meticulous accuracy, and integrity. For example, what if a decimal point is missing or in the wrong place? What if a zero is missing? What can be the consequences when computation is incorrect at the store or bank, or when laying carpet, measuring lumber, or cooking?


There are many situations in which numbers have been handled inaccurately - for instance, when one has been given too much or too little change at the grocery store, when one has been overcharged for an item, and when one has reported incorrectly on his/her income tax returns. The oral aspects of marking up prices, writing "rubber checks," paying people "under the table," manipulating statistics to project false conclusions, foreclosing due to high interest rates, fraud, embezzlement, robbery, false bankruptcy and insurance claims, and stock market schemes all involve math.


What pillars do you think are needed in math?


Sample exercises that combine math with character:

1.      Compose word problems in which the pillars are incorporated.


2.      Study famous mathematicians. Many were humanitarians.


3.       Students can conduct surveys on moral issues and learn to record the results accurately. For example, "Would you cheat on a .test if you knew you would not -get caught?" "Have you cheated within the past month?" Graph the results.


4.      Students can keep frequency counts of "good deeds" and do statistical analyses using graphs and tally sheets.


5.      Students can learn life skills like balancing a checkbook or budgeting for shopping. Give students exercises in which they have to make wise economic choices using a menu, catalog, or grocery flyer.


6.      Set up situations in which students can demonstrate honesty and responsibility with money:  class store, a fund-raiser, or a class business.


Taken from Comprehensive Character-Building Classroom -A Handbook for Teachers, by Lori Sandford Wiley, Ph.D., 1998


Other ideas for integrating character with math:

         Practice predicting and counting skills in mock elections.

         Talk about honesty and sharing when teaching concepts such as equal amounts, more or less, counting money, etc. Use word problems illustrating sharing when practicing concepts such as addition, subtraction, more, less, etc..

         Use word problems illustrating taking turns when practicing concepts such as sequencing.

         Measurements: Discuss the importance of measuring exactly - (volume - weight - etc.) in making purchases. Honesty is stressed "in accurate measurement.

         Division - Dividing portions equally when sharing.

         Data collection and analysis - reporting data accurately.

         Stress honesty - doing own work. Showing the work - not only the answer.

         Cooperative groups - show kindness, cooperation.

         Peer tutoring - show caring, fairness, trustworthiness.

         Older students present lessons on taxes, banking skills.


Taken from  A Tool Box of Ideas for Helping Elementary Students Exercise Character in School.

For more ideas, see:  Character Education Connections - For School, Home, and Community: A

Guide for Integrating Character Education, by Diane Stirling, csd, 2000.

Specifically, Service in Bloom; A Million Pennies; Statistics, Surveys, and Personal Responsibility, Responsibility on the Job; and Dollars and Sense-Ability.


Answer to the puzzle:

Fats always tell the truth. Targa is not a Fat because he would have to truthfully answer, "I am a Fat." He is also not a Skinny, because Skinnies always lie and Targa has just told the truth. Targa must be a Muscle.

String says, "I am not a Muscle." This is true, because Targa is the Muscle, String therefore can't be a Skinny because Skinnies always lie. String is a Fat.

Braun is a Skinny, because that's all that's left.

And Clu, Sam's friend, is a Fat, because truth-telling String says so!





Social studies is a natural place to integrate character. Often a study of historical figures is included in the social studies curriculum. This leads to a conversation of 'heroes'. Who has positively or negatively effected history? What were the character traits of those people? Would you want to be like them7 Why or why not? Another subject often covered in social studies is government.


Citizenship is a natural integration with this unit. A study of other cultures could also lend itself to character. What values are demonstrated in other cultures? Are they alike or different from ours? How can we show understanding and respect for others even though they are different from us?


What pillars do you think are needed in social studies?


Sample exercises that combine social studies with character:

1.      Study the founding documents of our country for pillar connections: the U.S. Constitution, the Mayflower Compact, the Bill of Rights. Visit the state legislature to see how the laws are made.                                               


2.      Study community helpers: people who are contributing to the community s welfare. For example  school board members, fire .fighters, United Way, Lion's Club, Rotary Club, etc,


3.       Use holidays to study our cultural heritage and the pillars. Martin Luther King Day, President's Day, Veterans Day, Memorial Day, and Thanksgiving are each meant to celebrate specific pillars.


4.      Study the speeches of famous Americans. Presidential addresses, such as the Gettysburg Address often cover ethical issues. Analyze, paraphrase, summarize.


5.       Identify moral themes and dilemmas throughout history: prejudice versus civil rights, treatment of ethnic groups, greed versus giving, attitudes toward slavery, the family and its changing role.                                             


6.      Use local history, living people, and family members to personalize modem history .Provide role models of moral courage,


7.      Role play and dramatize periods of history, such as the pioneer days of life at a medieval castle. What character qualities did people of those times display? What pillars were most valued? How were they displayed? Compare life-styles then and now. What character traits did they have to show? Do we need the same traits? Do we show them differently?


8.      Study the interaction between people and geography. How do the environment and people sometimes come into conflict? How do they work together?


9.      Analyze newspaper articles for moral issues. Use articles to discuss world and national problems and how to solve them.


10.  Have students use the newspaper to write their own moral dilemmas.


Taken from Comprehensive Character-Building Classroom -A Handbook for Teachers, by Lori Sandford Wiley, Ph.D., 1998


Other ideas for integrating character with social studies:

         Current events - analyze various political and social actions in relation to character issues.

         Class discussions on topics such as ethics in politics, trade agreements, business, social agendas, etc.

         Define and discuss responsibility.  Use "what would happen if..?" scenarios for children to think through the consequences of their actions.

         Discuss ways students can help improve the school or community.

         Hold mock elections on a variety of issues important to the students.

         Discuss laws and law enforcement and who it is important to obey them.

         Explore other cultures to help children learn to respect and appreciate differences.

         Help children learn how to express their feelings without physical violence or bad language.

         Discuss manners and how to behave toward others.

         Help children realize they can show kindness and caring by contributing to charitable activities.

         Help children express kindness and compassion as they care for class pets.

         Talk about ways to show appreciation to those who help them.

         Demonstrate and discuss ways to show others you care about them.

         Define trustworthiness and the characteristics of one who is trustworthy.

         Help students to realize that our actions tell others if we are honest and do what is right.

         Talk about the purposes of rules and who they are important.

         Make a collage of pictures from magazines depicting civic responsibility.

         Write letters to pen pals to learn about differences and to develop respect and caring for others.

         Have students create family flags (coat of arms) or class flags to develop pride and loyalty.

         Make large pillars of poster paper with word descriptions or illustrations for each pillar.

         Have students take part in raising and caring for the flag.

         Provide opportunities for students to lead the class in the Pledge of Allegiance.

         Collect food for the homeless - relate, this activity to citizenship, caring, responsibility.

         Organize clean up campaigns for your school or community.

         Allow older students to design and paint a mural of good character / or the pillars on a wall.

         Encourage cross-age monitoring by arranging for pre-teenagers and teenagers to counsel and tutor younger children.

         Emphasize beautification of the school campus - plant trees or flowers and maintain an area.

         Have students brainstorm with their classmates ten ways they are or can be better citizens.



Taken from  A Tool Box of Ideas for Helping Elementary Students Exercise Character in School.

For more ideas, see:  Character Education Connections - For School, Home, and Community: A

Guide for Integrating Character Education, by Diane Stirling, csd, 2000.

Specifically: Be a Goal-Setter, Lessons for Success, Puppet Problem-Solvers, Respect,

Responsibility: Me Today, Me Tomorrow, Service in Bloom.



Current Events



Date:  ___________________________________


Pillar(s) that are covered in this article:


            Trustworthiness                                             Fairness                    

            Respect                                                         Caring

            Responsibility                                                Citizenship


Name of Article: ________________________________________________


Date of Article: _________________________


Who: ___________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________


What: ___________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________


Where: ___________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________


When: ___________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________


Why: ___________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________


Pillar that I chose to focus on for this article is: ___________________________


The reason I chose this is: _______________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________



Current Events - Grade 5, September, 2001. VanGenderen, Llewellyn, Halsene, and Erickson.




Science is approached with respect for all life, concern for endangered species, a desire to protect and preserve habitats, and a true appreciation for our natural environment. Biology is based on respect for life. Respect for the earth's resources includes reusing, recycling, and reducing the amount of waste. There are many character traits needed to be objective through hypothesis testing, and being honest in reporting data, even when the data does not support the hypothesis. Many science experiments are conducted through cooperative learning. Students learn to work together and share responsibility for the outcome. They practice taking turns and respecting the views of others. They can discuss the inter-connectedness and interdependence of the planet.


What pillars do you think are needed in science?


Sample exercises that combine science with character:

1.      Study famous scientists and "the story behind science." Many scientists, like Louis Pasteur, were great humanitarians


2.      Take responsibility for a service project to beautify the environment. For example, in one elementary school they decided to beautify a part of the playground. Students planted shrubs and flowers.


3.      Celebrate Earth Day through projects, artwork, dramatization, decorations, and speeches.


4.      Take care of class plants, pets, or a bird feeder outside the window.


5.      Build and protect habitats for birds and animals.


6.      Plant a tree on Arbor Day.


7.      Discuss moral implications of evaluating energy sources, disposing of waste, etc.


Taken from Comprehensive Character-Building Classroom -A Handbook for Teachers,' by Lori Sandford Wiley, Ph.D., 1998.


Other ideas for integrating character with science:

         Emphasize responsibility in caring for our bodies through good nutrition and health habits.

         Stress responsibility for pets and the environment.

         Use classroom pets to demonstrate the importance of being trustworthy by helping students to realize that pets rely on us to take care of them. Give students responsibility for the care of pets, emphasizing that they must be trustworthy in taking good care of the pet or the pet will suffer.

         Use plants in a similar way as pets, giving students the responsibility to care for the plants.

         Establish routines for pet and plant care that will allow everyone to have a turn.

         Establish and discuss rules for the use of science materials and why they are important


Taken from A Tool Box of Ideas for Helping Elementary Students Exercise Character in School.

For more ideas, see Character Education Connections - For School, Home, and Community: A Guide for Integrating Character Education, by Diane Stirling, csd, 2000.




The power of music can be used very effectively in character education. Music is a vehicle for expressing cherished values. Songs, marches, operas, operettas, musicals, and many other musical forms have stirred the moral passions of people throughout history. Music reflects the culture and its values. Teachers have used music such as anthems to provide a common culture and sense of togetherness, as well as to stir students to depths of feeling. Music can be emotionally powerful as a moral force. Character education can be taught through studying specific musical works (content) or by writing and using music (process).


What pillars do you think are needed in music?


Sample exercises that combine music with character:

1.      Discuss how music fits the text of a song and emphasizes the pillars. Ask specific character- related questions about individual songs. What traits, for example, are embedded in our national anthem? How do the words and music work together to emphasize those traits? Ask students about their favorite (school appropriate) songs. What character traits do these songs reflect?


2.      Learn about composers and why their music came into being. Write a report on the character traits of a composer and how it affected his music.


3.      Study music as it relates to values in each period of history and culture.


4.      Watch movies such as Mr; Holland's Opus for their moral content.


5.      Plan the school musical around character themes.


6.      Fine arts or cultural: diversity days often integrate music, dance, visual arts, and other aspects of culture and can be easily extended to include character education.


7.      Sound montages are another way of integrating character education with music. A teacher may focus on instrumental music rather than on the lyrics to teach children that music carries a strong message with or without words.                                                     '


Taken from Comprehensive Character-Building Classroom - A Handbook for Teachers, by Lori

Sandford Wiley, PH.D., 1998, and Character Kaleidoscope by Mirka Chnstesen. 2000


"Learning has its emotional and psychological aspects, as well as its strictly rational ones, and what many at-risk students need above all is a taste of success-proof that they can perform well in a school-related endeavor. As many principals and teachers have noted, the self-confidence and renewed aspirations a child develops by doing well in painting, drama, singing, or playing an instrument often carries over into the more traditional scholastic areas of the curriculum."


Taken from, "Music Educators Journal, Vol. 73, No. 4 (Dec 1987), p 54, by Samuel Sava.

For more ideas, see Character Education Connections - For School, Home, and Community: A

Guide for Integrating Character Education, by Diane Stirling, csd, 2000, Specifically: Cooperative Musical Hoops, Musical Definitions, and Wackadoo Zoo.





Art conveys the values of the culture. Monuments, memorials, sculptures, and paintings have promoted the enduring value of beauty. Students can learn to appreciate and respect visual beauty in many forms.  They can also learn to use the visual arts as a form of self-expression. Art often gives students an opportunity to see that some of their peers, those who may struggle with math or writing or who are not among the outstanding athletes, are talented artists.


The arts are an integral part of teaching CHARACTER COUNTS! because of the inward emotions thoughts and experiences children can express through the creative process. Children learn many life skills from participating in the arts including creativity, self-discipline, decision-making and more.

The fine arts are inclusive but not limited to the following areas: visual art, vocal music, theater,

instrumental music, and dance.


"Ideally students should be able to make art and appreciate it, too, or perform music and acquire knowledge of it at the same time. We know that in the hands of better teachers, the arts can encompass academic aspects-considerations of style, history, culture, theory and criticism that reveal the  intent and the message of the work. And taken to the ultimate, such tending to thought, reason, and  ideas if rightly directed, will culminate in the engagement of children's imaginations, feelings and emotions those elements that have been sought traditionally. And that is as it should be'"                     


Taken from, Can We Rescue The Arts for America's Children?, 1988, by Charles Fowler


What pillars do you think are needed in art?


Sample exercises that combine art with character:


1.      Writing words to songs gives students an opportunity to not only express what they have learned about CHARACTER COUNTS!, but can also be a learning tool for other students who  are new to the program, when they hear the student crated songs.


2.      Student can write a play about the Six Pillars of Character. Six plays can be written in which each pillar is used as a theme. Students can create the set designs, costumes and programs.


3.      Rhythm instruments can be created from all shapes and sizes of containers and a variety of seeds, beans, etc. Students can play their rhythm instruments with CC! songs.


4.      Students can create faces with vivid face expressions from clay, showing feelings. The faces can be painted in colors that also express emotions.


5.      Dance movements can be created that express emotions in the way in which the students carry themselves and the type of music they dance to. Traditional and/or cultural dances can be performed to teach students about working together.          


By Cyndee Buck, Arts Consultant


For more ideas, see Character Education Connections - For School, Home, and Community: A Guide for Integrating Character Education, by Diane Stirling, 2000.  Specifically: Be a Goal Setter, A Million Pennies, and You Can Be a Star.





The primary goal of a physical education program is teaching lifelong care of one's physical body through exercise. A second aspect of PE is teaching how to participate in team sports. Fair play, teamwork, cooperation and respect for others are all a part of good sportsmanship. A third aspect is sometimes addressing the topics of healthful living, such as the dangers of smoking, drug addiction, alcoholism and poor eating habits. All three aspects can be used to teach character education.


Surveys of high school principals found that 95% believe participation in high school activities teaches valuable lessons to students that cannot be learned in the regular classroom routine; agreed activity programs contribute to the development of school spirit; and 99% agreed participation in high school activities promotes citizenship.


What pillars do you think are needed in physical education?

Sample exercises that combine physical education with character:

1.      Examine codes of ethics for sports. Discuss common situations and how to handle them ethically:

      The referee calls a bad play.

      An opposing ream member breaks a rule but is not caught.

      Your team is losing and you could bring your team's score up by hogging the ball.

      A fellow team member makes an error. What do you do?

      When your team wins, how do you treat the opposing players?

      When your team loses, how do you treat the opposing players?

      You could tell the coach about another team member who did something wrong.


2.      Discuss the ethical issues around competitiveness: "It's not whether you win or lose, its how you play the game," "Try you best," and the value of competing with oneself.


3.      Discuss "fair play." What is it? Why use it? What is "unfair play"?


4.      Play sports in which students must encourage each other in order to stay in the game. Players who are the most encouraging get to keep playing. If they stop encouraging others, they have to sit out. Students on the bench must encourage others in order to get back in the game. This is called "Satterfield Ball," named after Peter Satterfield, a sixth grade teacher.


5.      One teacher used stations in the gym. Each station featured a piece of equipment or physical exercise. Students were expected to stay at one station until the music stopped. Then they were to give someone a compliment and move on to the next station.


6.      Having teams shake hands before and after a game is one way of teaching respect.


7.      Biographies and movies of famous athletes provide rich material for discussing issues of character. Chariots of Fire is filled with moral decisions and courage.


8.      Help students get certified in CPR and baby-sitting by the Red Cross.


9.      Discuss character traits needed to-say "no" to drugs and alcohol.


10.  Jump rope to the spelling of character words and pillars, or to character rhymes.


Taken from Comprehensive Character-Building Classroom - A Handbook for Teachers, by Lori Sandford Wiley, PH.D.,1998, and Character Kaleidoscope by Mirka Christesen, 2000.

For more ideas, see Character Education Connections - For School, Home, and Community: A

Guide for Integrating Character Education, by Diane Stirling, csd, 2000. Specifically: Exercising Character and Lessons for Success.



Guidance in elementary school includes teaching social skills, behavior management, affective education (the study of feelings), and crisis management. In guidance classes, students can earn about how to get along with others, make and keep friends, resolve conflicts, use self-control, express emotions appropriately, and handle crises. They can learn peaceful ways to settle differences.


Sample exercises that combine guidance with character:


1.      Describe a situation in which you were upset: Situation - Feelings - Character Trait Needed


2.      Play a game. The teacher says, Use your face  to show a feeling and we will guess what the feeling is. Use your arms and face to show a feeling.. Everyone will guess what the feeling is. How else could you show that feeling?" Teach students how to display feelings appropriately using body language and words.


3.      If you had a problem, whom could you talk to? Whom do you trust? Make a list of people.


Taken from Comprehensive Character-Building Classroom - A Handbook for Teachers, by Lori Sandford Wiley, PH.D.,1998





Study of  foreign language lends itself to ample character development. Not only discussion of which character traits are necessary to undertake such a venture, but the study of what character traits are important in other countries and how these differ from our own.



This section adapted from The Ultimate Challenge: X-treme Character Participant Manual, Institute for Character Development at Drake University.