The Top Character Education Lessons Plans and Motivational Videos of 2011

by Laura Gurley on January 7, 2012

If you are looking for easy lesson ideas or videos to encourage good character in your students or children, the following is a listing of the top articles on character education which has produced in the year 2011.

Remember, you don’t necessarily have to commit to a time-consuming curriculum to teach intentionally and inspirationally. We know you’re busy. {You’re a teacher, right?} Just take 2 minutes to glance down the list, grab one idea, and try it out this week in your classroom or with your own children.

Because encouraging strong character may just be one of the most important things you teach in 2012.

Kids at zebra crossing

The Best  Character Education Lesson Ideas and Videos, 2011

Think Different. {MS/HS} A lesson plan on the power of individuality and modern historical heroes based on the 30-second Think Different commercial campaign by apple.

Why Every Teacher Should Teach Character. {Teacher} This post continues to be one of the most highly searched of our articles on Character Education. While it doesn’t provide a lesson plan, it challenges teachers to carve out some time to intentionally teach life lessons of character to their students.

Help. {All} This powerful video footage of an Olympic runner who falls in a race and then is carried to the finish line by his father is a great introduction to lessons of perseverance and the value of accepting help from others.

Kindness in Words. {Elem} This illustrated movie touches on the value of our words to build up or tear down, literally. You can show the video or just re-enact it for your students.

Classroom Gratitude Journal. {All} Author and teacher Laura Groves gave us this simple idea to instill gratitude and shift attitudes in the classroom.

Fill a Bucket with Kindness. {Elem/MS} This illustration is based off the popular book which talks about the invisible buckets we all carry and the power we have to fill or empty them.

A Lesson in Fair Trade. {MS/HS} Laura vlogs about the importance of fair trade and how it affects rice farmers from her balcony in Thailand. She also gives several other links to videos about the issue.

Gift of a Sincere Compliment. {All} Amy gave us this brilliant idea to have students intentionally compliment each other. It’s a simple idea, but she talks about the power this activity had on her own life as a young student.

Bad-Mood Breaker. {All} This easy 5-minute activity could seriously alter your entire teaching day. Seriously.

Begin with the End. {MS/HS} This activity requires no supplies and only 10 minutes of teaching time.  It’s a simple goal-setting lesson that asks students to evaluate if their current choices are helping or hurting their ability to achieve their personal goals.

One Small Spark. {MS/HS} Elora wrote this post describing a philosophy of service learning which asks students to think critically about their worlds and then to get involved in solving its problems. Thought-provoking.

Marble Jar. {Elem} This simple idea serves as a behavior modification system that we’ve all used but that deserves to be pulled from the closet every now and again.

Get off that Gossip Train, Girl. {MS/HS} Grab a tube of toothpaste and give a lesson on the damage gossip and rumors cause that your students will have a hard time forgetting– or cleaning up.

The Buck Stops Here. {MS/HS} Using a clip from the film ROCKY, students are asked to think about ways they are either giving up or blaming someone else for their own mistakes. The focus of this lesson is perseverance and responsibility.

7th Graders and a Capacity for Compassion. {All} Using a real-life example from her middle school classroom, Kendal shares an idea that connects students in the Western world to the impoverished in Africa. Her students worked together to provide several thousand dollars for clean water, half a globe away.  Read her story here, and then tweak the idea for a project that will, literally, change the world.


We are excited about giving our readers loads more resources for teaching character in the classroom during the upcoming year.  We’d like to become a place teachers can easily stop in to for simple, practical ideas to teach inspirationally — with little planning or supplies required.

In fact, as we plan for articles in the near future, would you take a minute to let us know what types of character education lessons you’d like ideas for in your class? Also, what are the biggest areas of character your students need help with? These answers will help us develop ideas that are most helpful to our teaching readers. If you haven’t already, consider subscribing to our posts {the best way to have inspirational ideas sent right to your inbox} or connecting with us via facebook. {Both located on the sidebars.}

- Laura is a former middle school teacher and currently blogs at .

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