What’s On Your Plate? Building Character: Lesson 3

Late author Stephen Covey asked us years ago to begin with the end in mind; once you’ve assessed your needs and you know where you need to go, how are you going to get there?

An important way to make your character-education efforts sustainable is to weave them in to the very DNA of your character building.

When we start to weave our core values and beliefs into every single thing that we do, day in and day out, that’s when we’re going to see meaningful growth and sustainable change.

Probably one of the easiest ways to integrate character development into the curriculum is through subjects like Language Arts. Seizing teachable moments when reading is easily done because characters typically struggle with something that puts core values like trustworthiness, respect, responsibility, fairness, caring, citizenship to the test.

Check out these picture book recommendations that could facilitate that core values infusion.


Ruthie and the (Not So) Teeny Tiny Lie by Laura Rankin
The Empty Pot by Demi
The Lunch Thief by Anne C. Bromley
What James Said by Liz Rosenberg
Wolf! Wolf! by John Rocco


Do Unto Otters by Laurie Keller
Draw The Line by Kathryn Otoshi
Hey, Little Ant by Phillip and Hannah Hoose
Something Else by Kathryn Cave
The Golden Rule by Ilene Cooper


After the Fallby Dan Santat
Good News Nelson by Jodi Moore
If Everybody Did by Jo Ann Stover
The Most Magnificent Thing by Ashley Spires
Three Pebbles and a Song by Eileen Spinelli

A Taste of Colored Water by Matt Faulkner
Four Feet, Two Sandals by Karen Lynn Williams
Mine! by Kevin Luthardt
One Grain of Rice by Demi
Share with Brother by Steven Layne


I Walk With Vanessaby Kerascoët
The Invisible Boy by Trudy Ludwig
The Sandal Artist by Kathleen T. Pelley
Those Shoes by Maribeth Boelts
Words and Your Heartby Kate Jane Neal


A Castle on Viola Street by DyAnne DiSalvo
Imogene’s Last Stand by Candace Fleming
Sometimes We Were Brave by Pat Brisson
The Sandwich Swap by Queen Rania Al Abdullah
The Wall by Eve Bunting

A second area that lends itself to curricular integration is when talking about our heroes in history in Social Studies class; a fairly common example would be a discussing honesty and integrity in a cooperative learning situation when we study George Washington and the cherry tree.

Another place when character development is handily infused into what we’re already doing so that it doesn’t become one more thing on our plates is in the Science Lab, simply by continually reviewing how important integrity is to the process of scientific experimentation as well as by showing responsibility with the equipment and all safety procedures.

Then there’s Physical Education classes, where students are always sharpening skills like playing fair, being honest, respecting one another, core values which are woven into the lesson naturally every day. The key to successful integration in the gym and on the court or field is for the expectations to be habitually reiterated with intention rather than just assumed or taken for granted.

And computer times provides the perfect place to teach, model and enforce digital citizenship.

Daily opportunities abound to stretch and strengthen character muscles through integration into academic content in our classrooms as well as during social time at lunch and play time at recess.

Watch for our fifth and final email to talk about putting it all together to help your students answer the question that is often missed: What have you done for others today?