Teaching courage in the classroom is not as simple and straightforward as teaching children about science or math. Courage in not concrete, nor can it be taught through equations and graphical representations. Teachers and other education staff often need to develop interesting and engaging activities to first explain the character trait and then have children apply the trait to internalise the concept.
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Spend a day or two in class reading child-appropriate stories about courage, such as "Courage," by Bernard Waber, "Jack and the Beanstalk," by E. Nesbit and "Little Polar Bear and the Brave Little Hare," by Hans de Beer. Discuss the books while progressing through them. When all of the books are finished, have children team up in groups to choose a courageous scene from one of the books to act out.
Teachers should try to make sure there are a variety of props available for kids to use to enhance the fun. If no props are available, the class can work together to make some of their own. Have each group present their scene at an end-of-the-day performance for everyone to enjoy.
Character Trait Praise Box
Make courage the "character trait of the day or week" and have the class work together to make a special box with a slot on the top to place somewhere in the classroom. Together, have the children brainstorm a list of all the ways children can demonstrate courage and keep this list posted for everyone to see. Teachers explain to the class that every time students witness an act of courage, they can write a short note describing who was demonstrating the trait and what they were doing. Teachers should try to provide every student with the opportunity to demonstrate courage throughout the week so that every child's name ends up in the box. At the end of the week, the class can have a small celebration and teachers can read each note to the class and send the children's notes home with them to show to their parents.
Teachers can bring in a few weeks' worth of newspapers and have children bring in old newspapers from home. Children can work together in groups to locate all of the articles that demonstrate an individual's or a group's demonstration of courage. Teachers can have the students cut out the articles and glue them onto construction paper to decorate. Have each group write the act of courage on the paper. Hang the finished projects throughout the classroom.
Teachers can begin a lesson segment on courage by having children draw a picture of something that is representative of courage to them. Allow each child the opportunity to share his or her picture with the class. Put the pictures away and continue through other courage-related activities. At the end of the lesson segment, teachers can have each child draw a new picture of what courage means to them. Collect each picture and together with the original pictures, teachers can create a collage to post on the classroom wall. Not only is this a fun activity, but it also provides teachers with a tangible means of assessing each student's grasp of the concept.
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