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Browse NSOC Lesson Plans

Each lesson plan relates to CEP's 11 Principles of Effective Character Education. Download our framework to learn more.

Elementary School Grade Level Lesson Plans

Exploring Our Cultural Customs
Students will inform classmates about their cultural customs and family traditions through research and formal presentations.
Grade Level: Grade 5
The Hundred Dresses
Students will be able to analyze the words and actions of fictional characters in order to determine if the individual (s) showed good character.
Grade Level: 3-5
Eco-Project: What’s Wrong with the World? (And How Do We Fix It?)
Students work together to research an ecological issue and then specify solutions that families can take to address the issue.
Grade Level: 3rd grade and higher
Ethical Entrepreneurs
Second grade businesses at Hagemann Elementary promote ethical values as a foundation for good character.
Grade Level: Second Grade (easily adapted for other grades)
Have You Filled a Bucket Today?
The lesson’s purpose is to give students an awareness of how their choices (words & actions) can make a difference in their lives as well as those of others.
Grade Level: Grades 2-5
Keith Haring/Bully Prevention
This lesson introduces students to the life work of Keith Haring, an artist who used a very simple playful style to carry a message of love, peace, and equality.
Grade Level: Fourth Grade
Character Education - Character Plays
Students will read Stories to Light Our Way: Journey to the World of Good Volume 1, identify the theme or moral, and create/perform a play while the remaining students evaluate their performance
Grade Level: Grades 3-12
Who Wants to Be President?
In this lesson, students use their knowledge of democratic principles to create a fictional presidential candidate, run a campaign for election, participate in a political convention and presidential debate, and vote for president.
Grade Level: 4th grade
Reaching Out to Our Community While Learning About Fire Safety
This is a character education lesson that has integrated art, language arts, and math skills.
Grade Level: 4th grade (can be adapted for 3-5)
Trash vs. Recycling
The purpose of the lesson is for students to learn how to cope with negative thoughts and actions.
Grade Level: K-5
Practicing Patience
Teachers and students will discuss what Patience means, when we demonstrate it, and share how difficult it can be at times.
Grade Level: K-5th grade
Jefferson Barracks Cemetery Visit
Students will respect veterans living and deceased.
Grade Level: 5th grade and above
Kindness Acrostic Poems
This character education on "kindness" will involve students understanding the definition of kindness & writing acrostic poems.
Grade Level: K-5
Knowing the Right Way to Act
Students will make appropriate choices about the right way to act.
Grade Level: 2
A Good Case of Stripes: Celebrating Uniqueness and Making Connections
This lesson helps students think about the thoughts and feelings they may experience on the first day of school, and their desire to be accepted by peers.
Grade Level: 3
Targeting Hunger
Students will identify and partner with a charity to provide food items within their community.
Grade Level: K-5
Zero
After reading the book Zero by Kathryn Otoshi (KO Kids Books, 2010), students will discuss what it means to be valued.
Grade Level: K-2
The Best Me I Can Be!
Students will work with peers and teacher to set goals for greater character development throughout the school year.
Grade Level: K-5
Student Driven Service Learning
Students will research and discuss the chosen issue, finding a way that they believe they can make a difference.
Grade Level: 3-6
The Golden Rule: Do Unto Otters
To help students understand the need to treat others they way they would like to be treated, students will listen to the read aloud Do Unto Otters.
Grade Level: K-3
Fishy Friends
Students will evaluate traits that make good friends and write how he or she can be a better friend.
Grade Level: K-2
Parent Tutors: A Community Approach
An invaluable bond is formed between tutors and students, thus fostering the community spirit upon which our school is based.
Grade Level: K-5
Social Skills Role Playing
Students will be able to demonstrate role playing and the ability to cooperatively discuss solutions.
Grade Level: 1
Core Values and What They Mean to Me
An opportunity for students to brainstorm ways they can show Core Values during the year at both home and school
Grade Level: K-6
Science Discovery Day
Science Discovery Day is a ‘Buddy’ activity. Fifth grade tribes (teams of students working together) have the opportunity to develop a science lesson for their third grade buddies targeting a simple science concept. Tribes are required to prepare a lesson outline, a hands-on activity, worksheets, and assessments.
Grade Level: 5
Character Counting
After reflecting on the many ways students have helped around their home, students will create individual number stories. Stories will be created, illustrated, and shared.
Grade Level: 1-3
Creating Caring with Project Linus
Project Linus is an organization that provides comfort to children who are sick and in the hospital through collecting blankets from “blanketeers.” Students act as “blanketeers” by creating blankets to donate through Project Linus.
Grade Level: K-5
The Power of Words
The children’s classic The Ugly Duckling is an excellent read aloud to prompt discussions on caring, empathy, tolerance, and respect.
Grade Level: K-5
Citizenship in Action
The student will demonstrate that being a good citizen includes taking responsibility for certain classroom chores, taking care of personal belongings, respecting the property of others, following the rules at home, school, and in the community
Grade Level: 4-5
Amazing Grace
Students will discuss a story about a girl who had a goal, realized she had some obstacles that might prevent her from reaching it, and found a way to achieve her goal anyway.
Grade Level: K-5
Manners and Morals
“Respect for ourselves guides our morals: respect for others guides our manners.” Lawrence Sterne
Grade Level: K-3
Biography Book Project: Wax Museum
Students will read a biography, then present the information learned in a "wax museum" format.
Grade Level: 5
Giving Away to Give Back – A Sweet Treat
In this lesson, students will discuss community workers and how their jobs better our community.
Grade Level: K-3
The Places You’ll Go!
Students will discuss story setting, character traits, and goal setting.
Grade Level: K-5
The Declaration of Independence- A Modern Voice on Democracy and Citizenship
Students will define the meaning of The Declaration of Independence and why this document is important to our country.
Grade Level: 5
Stand Up to Bullies Week
Students and teachers will learn more about bullying and how to stop it in their schools.
Grade Level: 2
Turn-Taking and Choosing Who Goes First: Playing Fair
Students will understand and use strategies for deciding who goes first or who chooses a game/activity.
Grade Level: 1
Making and Keeping Friends: Social Skills and Diversity
This lesson will help students understand the concept of body language and personal space.
Grade Level: 2
Peace It Together: Playing Fair
Students will learn the importance of good sportsmanship.
Grade Level: 1
My Hands Can...
In this lesson students learn about and practice good choices they can make, using the book 26 Big Things Small Hands Do.
Grade Level: PreK
It’s Hard to Be Honest
This lesson is the first grade’s kick-off activity for the Pillar of Honesty. Children need to understand that being honest does not come easy; it is hard work.
Grade Level: 1
Be an Upstander and Say Something!
In this lesson each student will think about what they can do when they observe or witness an incident of name-calling or bullying, but are not being called names or bullied themselves.
Grade Level: 4
Immigration Simulation Day: A Day in the Life of an Immigrant at Ellis Island
Students will transition between four stations to experience a day in the life of an immigrant arriving at Ellis Island.
Grade Level: Elementary
Wrinkle on My Heart
Students will learn about empathy. Students will learn to take responsibility for their mistakes when they happen and to learn from them. Students will learn to think before they speak and act.
Grade Level: Elementary
Flat Tiger Brings Back Kindness
The goal of this project is to have Flat Tiger travel all over the country and report back to us on how other children and their families “Walk the Talk.”
Grade Level: Elementary
Caring for Our School's Family
As a family, students write a caring letter or thank you note to a selected support staff person. The note or letter will be displayed in the school.
Grade Level: Mixed grades
PAW-SOME Readers
Students have a reading incentive during March - Reading Month. Also, they discuss core values with their families, making the values more widely known.
Grade Level: Elementary
Stand up for Your Beliefs
Using Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. as an example, students will learn about bullying and how to prevent it.
Grade Level: Elementary/Middle
Showing Courage
Students will investigate and illustrate the definition of courage as being brave enough to do what you should, even when you are afraid.
Grade Level: 3
The Kindness Quilt
Students will perform an act of kindness, then draw a picture and write a sentence about that act for the class quilt.
Grade Level: K-3
Finding Character in Our Characters
Students connect each month's character trait to actions performed by characters in our read aloud books.
Grade Level: K-12
Celebration of Character Family Picnic
Each student will serve his or her parent lunch, using the pre-determined language appropriate for a server, as a thank you for all their support for the school year.
Grade Level: K-5
Researching Countries Helped by the Shoeman Project
Students sold these shoes by the pound or donated to those who needed them. Then the money was used to buy well-digging rigs for countries where clean water is scarce.
Grade Level: 2-5
Persuasive Letter Writing to Solve Problems
Students will practice persuasive writing as they try to solve a problem that they have encountered at school, home, or in their community.
Grade Level: Primary
Fundraiser for Japan
Students will find relevant facts about Japan and the earthquake that took place in March 2011 to share with the entire school community.
Grade Level: 3-5
Enemy Pie
Students will create a recipe that summarizes the character traits that are needed to be a friend.
Grade Level: 1-3
Celebrating Diversity with Elmer
Students will discuss Elmer’s similarities and differences when compared with all of the other elephants. Students will discuss their own similarities and differences and will celebrate those differences together.
Grade Level: K-5
Be a Buddy, Not a Bully
Students will use a variety of anti-bullying strategies that may be practiced at some point in all areas of the school building.
Grade Level: Elementary
What's the Story of the American Flag?
This lesson is to teach children the history of the American Flag. They will have a deeper respect for the American Flag and for those who designed and sewed the Flag.
Grade Level: K-2
Caring Hearts
Students will understand the impact that hurtful words can have on their classmates’ feelings, and will instead use kind words and treat others’ hearts in a caring manner.
Grade Level: PreK-3
Mad Lib Service Learning Project
Students will use online resources and through class discussion, students will apply their knowledge of the parts of speech to develop a Mad Lib story.
Grade Level: Elementary
Blood Drive Donor Thank You Letters
Students will write a friendly letter to a family or community member thanking them for taking part in the community blood drive.
Grade Level: Elementary
Mini-Lesson for Tolerance
Students will understand that good readers can use key quotes and sayings to help them understand the thinking and get inside the mind of the main characters, which helps us to gain a deeper insight.
Grade Level: Elementary
Fill Buckets All Day: Be a Bucket Filler!
Through a story and some fun, meaningful activities students will learn about the concept of “bucket-filling” and will have the opportunity to practice it in the classroom. Overall, it will help to build unity among classmates and peers.
Grade Level: Elementary
How Many Are Homeless?
Fifth and second grade buddies learn about the number of homeless people in the surrounding community and the possible hardships they face. These students are empowered through knowledge to explore ways they can help the homeless in the community.
Grade Level: Elementary
Lilly’s Purple Plastic Purse and the Action Cycle
I use this lesson to set up expectations for reflective behavior in our classroom for the year. We then keep blank reflection sheets for the students to use when they must take a “time out.” Students must fill it out the sheet before they can return to the regular activity.
Grade Level: 2-3
The Right to Be Me
This activity will help students understand the right to be themselves, and others’ rights. Students will discuss differences and similarities, and why it is important to be accepting.
Grade Level: Elementary
Kindness is Contagious
To infuse values and cultural awareness into the curriculum, the principal and school staff developed “Kindness is Contagious.” The program promotes kindness, which leads to students developing respect for themselves and others.
Grade Level: Mixed Grades (K-8)
Friendship Letters
Every student writes a personalized letter and draws a picture for every child in his or her class and every child receives a personalized letter and picture from every student in his or her class. This is a great way to conclude the school year. The students truly know one another by year’s end, which adds depth and sincerity to each letter.
Grade Level: 2
Making Character Connections with Literature
By identifying what constitutes “virtuous” behavior and exploring it in the lives of others, in this lesson through characters in literature, students begin to examine their own actions and determine if they are behaving in a virtuous manner.
Grade Level: 5
Bucket Filling
The purpose of this lesson is to create a caring school community where students, parents, teachers, and guests at the school feel welcome, respected, appreciated and valued.
Grade Level: Elementary
The Torn Heart
Students listen to a story read aloud, thinking and reflecting about instances in the story where someone was wronged, was unfairly treated, or was not treated respectfully.
Grade Level: Elementary
Generational Singing
Students will reach out to the local community by performing holiday songs with movements at a local nursing home.
Grade Level: Mixed Grades (K-12)
Chinese Dragons
Students put both hands on the child’s shoulders ahead of them. If the music is fast, the group should move quickly; if slow, they move slowly. When the music stops, all freeze. If a “dragon” or group breaks, they must sit down quietly. If two “dragons” touch each other at any time, they both sit down.
Grade Level: 1-2
Character Report Card
Students are “trained” to look at characters through different eyes – eyes that can distinguish words and actions that promote good character and those that don’t. Through the character report card, core values become internalized as part of their education and part of their lives.
Grade Level: Elementary
Persons of Character Research Report and Wax Museum
Through this lesson, students will research a person of character and write a report on that person. Once the report is written, students will transform the information into a first-person speech. At the Wax Museum, each student will dress up as their chosen person of character and will “come to life” and speak to visitors as that person.
Grade Level: 4-6
A Fine Feathered Flock
Patricia Polacco’s Mr. Lincoln’s Way provides an excellent opportunity for teachers to introduce the topic of respect.
Grade Level: 2-4
Whoever You Are
This series of activities will help children to become familiar with other cultures and learn that people all over the world have things in common.
Grade Level: Elementary
Who Wants To Be President? A Voice and Choice Lesson of Democracy in Action
Students use their knowledge of democratic principles to create a fictional presidential candidate, run a campaign for election, participate in a political convention and presidential debate, and vote for president.
Grade Level: Elementary
Unique Monique: Building a Community of Unique Individuals
This purpose of this lesson is to build a caring community within a classroom. The lesson will encourage students to identify their unique talents, abilities, and strengths and thereby increase self-confidence.
Grade Level: Elementary
Understanding Core Values Using the Frayer Model
By examining themes in literature as well as the actions of characters in fiction and persons in non-fiction, students can observe character in action.
Grade Level: Elementary
Special Sunflowers
Laurence Anholt’s Camille and the Sunflowers provides an excellent way to introduce a discussion about feelings and ways to care about others.
Grade Level: Elementary
Singing for the Animals
"Singing for the Animals" service project provided an opportunity for students to make a difference in their community by raising money to help the county's homeless animals.
Grade Level: Elementary
Sharing in the Classroom
Students should be aware of what the value of sharing means in the classroom.
Grade Level: Elementary
Responsibility and Jobs
The learner will name community jobs/helpers, define responsibility and identify responsible behavior.
Grade Level: Elementary
Respectful Riders
Respect, Helpful, Discussion, Unity, Improvement, responsibility.
Grade Level: Elementary
The Power of Words
The children’s classic The Ugly Duckling is an excellent read aloud to prompt discussions on caring, empathy, tolerance, and respect.
Grade Level: Elementary
Parent and Community Connections
Students will learn about civility and compassion by creating a poster to spread inspiration about kindness with their community.
Grade Level: Elementary
Ornaments for Nursing Home Tree
DENS (developing, educating and nurturing students) are cross-grade-level community meetings. This den, advisory, or classroom activity becomes a service project.
Grade Level: Elementary
Novel Plans: HATCHET, by Gary Paulsen - Culminating Activity to Novel Reading
At the conclusion of this lesson, students will be able to define perseverance.
Grade Level: Elementary
Introducing Recycling
In this lesson, students explore the environmental issue of excess garbage and how recycling can help reduce the amounts of garbage in landfills.
Grade Level: Elementary
Holiday Cookie Exchange
In this lesson, students will discuss jobs adults do at their school and why it is important to show respect to all workers.
Grade Level: Elementary
Fifth Grade Service Project
By working with a local food pantry, students examine the essential question, “Are we more alike or more different than those who have less (or more) than us?”
Grade Level: Elementary
Developing enrichment toys for the Roger Williams Zoo
Students construct a large animal toy [rabbits, birds, small deer, etc.] out of edible materials to be placed in the habitats of carnivorous animal at the zoo.
Grade Level: Elementary
Cultivating Caring - Filling Buckets of Caring Carrots
“Growing Towards Excellence.” Working within that theme, the Character Counts Committee has adopted “Growing Together - Sowing Seeds of Character.”
Grade Level: Elementary
Creating a Caring Culture: Appreciating the Diversity of Your School
This lesson is particularly effective in the beginning of the year as it allows students to begin to know each other.
Grade Level: Elementary
The Crayon Box that Talked
“The Crayon Box that Talked” is a profound poem by Shane DeRolf that conveys the simple message that differences should not only be tolerated and accepted but embraced.
Grade Level: Elementary
Character-Go-Round
Character-Go-Round is a lesson designed to help students recognize the relationship between words, actions, and character traits.
Grade Level: Elementary
Celebrating Caring & Kindness
This is a three-part lesson that helps students become aware of being caring and kind citizens in their school, home, and community.
Grade Level: Elementary
Bully Prevention
Before beginning, students should be aware of the term, “bully,” and the expression “fooling around.”
Grade Level: Elementary
Being Kind to Yourself
Students will understand that kindness begins with being kind to yourself.
Grade Level: Elementary
Be a “Bucket Filler”
Students will understand that the positive things they do for others show respect and will no doubt come back to them.
Grade Level: Elementary
Adding “Homeside” to “Schoolside” Learning
"Homeside activities" are designed as an extension of "Schoolside" activities. They further promote the development of a "Caring Schools Community."
Grade Level: Elementary

Middle School Grade Level Lesson Plans

Character(s) in History – A Biographical Investigation
Students will select a famous historical figure or a more modern-day figure and research that person's life so they can write appropriate newspaper pieces about it.
Grade Level: 6-8
Words Hurt!
Encourage students to see different people's points of view about hurtful words
Grade Level: 6-8
Acceptance
Acceptance means respecting the differences among people. Because people are different in so many ways, it is important to be accepting of others.
Grade Level: 7
Homeless Shelter Project
This project was completed as part of a cross-curricular unit on poverty and homelessness. Students participated in numerous poverty simulations, fixed-income budget activities, and research on homelessness statistics. They also read fictional and poetic accounts of homelessness.
Grade Level: Middle
“Honesty is the Best Policy” – George Washington
The goal of this lesson is to have the students reflect upon the importance of honesty and the consequences of lying. The students should be encouraged to speak freely to promote social interactions within the classroom.
Grade Level: Middle
Waves of Life
Students will examine the "highs" and "lows" in their lives by comparing these to the parts of a wave. In the process, students will gain sel-awareness and a greater understanding of the parts of a wave.
Grade Level: Middle School
The Giggling Gauntlet
The students will work effectively as part of a group to accomplish a goal.
Grade Level: Middle School
Portraits of Resilience
Students use literary sources to come to a deeper understanding of human resilience and the importance of tolerance in society.
Grade Level: Middle School
Me and We: A Mix It Up Activity
This activity is designed to allow students to communicate and express their opinions on various topics in a respectful and non-threatening way and to respectfully listen to and connect with other students in a socially productive way.
Grade Level: Middle School
Growing In Character
Once a week for thirteen weeks students are handed a copy of ‘Seedfolks’ at the beginning of advisory, homeroom, or another class. Students and teacher read a new chapter about another character who enters the garden and in their own very special way makes it a better place.
Grade Level: Middle School
Columbus: Hero or Villain?
Students analyze a variety of sources in order to determine for themselves whether or not Columbus should be considered a hero or a villain.
Grade Level: Middle School
Circles of Strength: What Do You Stand For?
Students reflect upon how they are part of many different community "circles" within the "Circle of Life."
Grade Level: Middle School
Cancer Banner Art Installation
Art Lesson: students will demonstrate their understanding of Installation Art by creating one at their school. Throughout the process, students utilize specific character traits they are taught in our character education program.
Grade Level: Middle School
Around Your School—Bonding Students to Staff
This lesson enables students to see that in every job done well there is honor.
Grade Level: Middle School
Advocacy, Recognition, Prevention through Art and Health
Health Lesson: students learn about cancer in health class, survey the school community to find out about the impact of cancer, and then educate their peers about what they have learned. Students work with art students to create an art installation.
Grade Level: Middle School

High School Grade Level Lesson Plans

Developing Student Leaders
Students will create S.M.A.R.T goals and reflect on the process of meeting or working towards their leadership goals.
Grade Level: 9-12
Politics in Puerto Rico: 1900-1930
Note: Some Spanish language translation required. By understanding the relation between their writing and the political issues of the time period, we can understand how our intellectuals thought and how they transmitted their thoughts, values and virtues to the rest of the population.
Grade Level: High School
Respect
Students will think about respect and what it means to respect themselves, those around them, and their world. They will work through how they can show respect in hypothetical situations.
Grade Level: 7-12
Inspirations from Gandhi
Students will recognize Gandhi as a non-violent protester and man of character through this lesson and reading his famous quotes.
Grade Level: 11-12
Creating Classroom Rules
Students will establish a set of rules and guidelines based on mutual respect for safe and honest discussion during their class or family advocate period, or review already existing guidelines with the same purpose.
Grade Level: High School
Got Seatbelts?
Students are empowered through advocacy to make a positive life difference for members of their school, family, and community through seatbelt awareness.
Grade Level: High School
Conflict Resolution Skills Training
Unlike peer mediation programs that teach a handful of students these attitudes, skills, and behaviors, the Conflict Resolution Skills Training Homeroom provides this enriching opportunity to all freshmen students.
Grade Level: High School
Got Character?
Using the Got Milk? ad campaign as an example, students are to devise a creative and fun campaign that will capture the minds of their peers through design of an ad promoting character in their school ... by altering the Got Milk? slogan to Got Character?
Grade Level: High School
Give a Friend a Hand
This lesson is designed to help students recognize and empathize with people who have disabilities.
Grade Level: High School
Civic Responsibility: Meeting a Community Need
The purpose of this lesson is to have students focus on what civic responsibility is all about and to come up with an action which expresses civic responsibility.
Grade Level: High School

Mixed Grade Level Lesson Plans

Introducing Academic Integrity
Students will be able to define academic integrity and develop a rationale for its importance.
Grade Level: 6, 7, and 8
Success Folders
A success folder is a student portfolio of student work from throughout the year and a place of self-reflection. The ultimate goal is for students to develop intrinsic motivation as they think about their performance in school and what it took to be successful.
Grade Level: 4-8
“Have I Told You?” - A Lesson About Gifts & Talents
This lesson is meant for older students that are able to look beyond citizenship as patriotism and process abstract information.
Grade Level: Upper Elementary/Middle School
“Bully” Documentary & Discussion
Students will be able to recognize the three types of bullying: social, physical, and verbal.
Grade Level: 7-12
Story of Self
When students learn to tell their experiences in a powerful way, they are often heard.
Grade Level: 7-12
Responsibility Rather than Excuses
Students will learn the difference and then give examples and find ways to convert excuses to statements of responsibility.
Grade Level: K-12
Parent Academy Night
Teachers teach parents strategies to assist their children at home with language arts or mathematics.
Grade Level: parents
Improving Bus Behaviors
Students will discuss how they show respect to their bus drivers and collect data on how students really behave on buses. Then they will find ways to improve behavior.
Grade Level: K-12
Student-Led Development
The students at Fox C-6 School District have a say in their scholastic experience.
Grade Level: K-12
Touchstone Soup
Students will be able to identify at least four key values that are essential to positive character at our school.
Grade Level: Mixed Grades
Caring: Owen and Mzee
Students explore kindness and caring through the story of Owen and Mzee, a true story about how a 130-year-old tortoise (Mzee) helped a baby hippo (owen) survive after separation from its family during the 2004 tsunami.
Grade Level: Mixed Grades
Life Doesn’t Frighten Me
Each class will read the book Life Doesn't Frighten Me. The students will discuss their own fears and how they can overcome those fears.
Grade Level: Mixed Grades
Goal Setting at BCS
Annually, each child establishes an academic and a personal goal which reflects the school's character education traits. A goal-setting conference is convened at the beginning of the school year with the child, teacher and parent to discuss the child's identified goals and to sign a three-way commitment.
Grade Level: Mixed Grades