Character building activities for kids can be very vital for the overall growth and development of children.
An important aspect of the holistic development of kids is learning social, moral, and ethical skills. Values like caring about other people, empathy, honesty, morality, ethical responsibility, and understanding emotions are important facets of one’s personality.
Parents and teachers are the figures of authority that children interact with most often. Therefore, the responsibility of fostering these important values falls on them. School plays a major part in inculcating these values and nurturing them.
Simple character-building activities and games that teachers conduct in schools can greatly help students understand and learn these values. This article will describe activities that can be held with kids of different ages.
Benefits Of Character Building Games & activities
Children that sincerely take part in character building activities see a positive impact in their lives in the long run. The values the activities teach instill discipline, gratitude, and empathy that enrich experiences that life shows us. Some benefits noticeable are –
- Democratic values like justice, equality, and freedom are well rooted in their moral compass.
- Empathy and gratitude allows for a more just interpretation of complex situations.
- Resolving interpersonal relationships are easier due to empathetic qualities.
- Prosocial behaviours like co-operation comes more naturally.
- While in school, following discipline and decorum is not a problem.
- Discipline and focus improves academic performance.
- Focus and attendance in class and extra-curricular activities sees a boost.
- Violent and unruly behaviour is prevented as students are able to rationalize situations more effectively.
Character Building Activities
Children of different ages have different receptive powers. Value teaching activities need to be made keeping in mind the capacity of the children. The way children react to different authority figures like teachers and parents are also different.
Therefore, they must work together to effectively build and mold the behaviors and actions of children positively. When teachers and parents do this job well, children grow up to be more self-confident individuals who earn academic and personal success.
Holistic development and nurture are important for the all-around growth of a child. Following are activities that children of different age groups will find effective.
Character Building Activities For Young Children
At school, teachers must not focus merely on completing the required syllabus. Focus on social and moral skills are just as important for the child’s holistic growth.
This section of the article includes simple activities that can be introduced during recess breaks to aid the personal development of children.
Fill my bucket
Allow children to think of themselves and other students as an empty bucket. To fill the bucket, they must give out compliments. Receiving and giving sincere compliments fills buckets of both students involved in the interaction. Encourage students to be honest and open with positive remarks.
What kids learn: This activity helps children to understand the weight compliments hold and be more appreciative of others.
Boost up notes
This is another exercise to help children appreciate others. At the start of the day, give the children a task to write a compliment of other students in the class and hide the notes in places they could find the note. Encourage children to leave more than one note if they want to.
What kids learn: This exercise teaches children gratitude and appreciation. Finding notes about themselves will also boost their mood.
Recipe of success
This activity can be used as a group activity or an individual brainstorming session. Ask students what qualities are necessary to have a good personality. These are the ingredients they need for success. Encourage students to think about why these qualities are good. Teach them how to nurture such qualities. If time permits, turn it into an arts and crafts activity and make a bulletin out of it.
What kids learn: Teaches children how to think and plan for success.
Hands off the buttons
Understanding the emotions of others is a key tool to maintaining positive and healthy interpersonal relationships. This exercise will help children read other’s emotions and effectively communicate their own. Make it a class rule to verbally say, “You are pushing my buttons” when a child is beginning to get annoyed. Students must learn to stop whatever action caused the statement. Ensure that children say the sentence even if they are already having a negative reaction to the sentence.
What kids learn: Children learn to communicate and verbalize their emotions.
Make it mine
Hold an activity where children discuss positive qualities that they recognize in others and themselves. Allow them to wholly express what the positive trait is and how they see it in others and themselves. The teacher should promote discussion between the speaker and audience during this exercise to help students understand their actions better.
What kids learn: This activity allows children to evaluate themselves and understand their own actions.
Tell the students the story of the giving tree. Make the students do an activity in response to the story – draw a tree representing all that you are thankful for receiving. They can use their creative skills to draw any kind of tree but it must include names and representations of people, things, and experiences they are grateful for.
What kids learn: Conduct this exercise weekly to help students cultivate a grateful nature.
Puppet role play
Divide the students into groups of 2-3 members each. Give each group a situation involving an interpersonal interaction – positive or negative. Students must use puppets to enact a skit on how they think is appropriate to approach the situation.
Allow discussion among the students after each play.
What kids learn: Understanding different approaches to the same situation will make children better equipped to approach real-life situations.
Positive character book
Maintain a notebook on how to manage anger and maintain a positive outlook. Encourage children to visit the book when they are in a conflict and learn how to deal with the situation. Add suggestions given by students. From time to time, bring out the notebook and remind the children of the notes made there.
What kids learn: Children learn to identify and manage their anger.
Talk a walk in my shoes
Begin the activity as an arts and crafts exercise. Allow children to make footprints however they prefer – paint, tracing, freehand drawings, etc. Post this, make children stand in each other footprints and talk about cases of empathy. Allow time for reflection and save time for children to share stories as well.
What kids learn: Teaches children empathy.
Keep a chart on the bulletin board outlining the discipline and decorum required in the classroom. Allow children to work on building a new chart together every month. Use the session to remind them to be more mindful of their discipline in class.
What kids learn: Students learn how to conduct themselves with discipline and decorum.
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Character Development Activities For Pre-Teens
Middle school is an important phase for character building. The child’s individuality and personality traits develop at a fast pace during this time. Having the right direction and guidance in the form of these character-building activities can go a long way in making learning fun.
Check your salt
Give students a bottle of salt and ask them to empty it onto a paper. Do not tell them the activity beforehand. After all the salt is out of the bottle, ask them to put all of it back into the bottle. Most students will be unsuccessful in doing so. Remind them that the nature of rude words is similar to the spilled salt. They’re easy to throw out but hard to take back.
What kids learn: Building relationships damaged by rude words to what they were before is a formidable task. Therefore, one must be careful with the words one uses.
As children approach middle school, they are equipped to understand the workings of the State. This is the prime age to teach children how they can be good citizens – their responsibilities, duties, and freedoms.
What kids learn: Teaching them their duties also instills a sense of responsibility and morality in them. Keep a session every 2-3 months about the different aspects of being a good citizen.
Door of integrity
Name the door of the classroom – Door of Integrity. Hang a fun board on the door that reminds students of the Door of Integrity. Make a small list of characteristics and traits that children must follow outside the classroom. Every time children pass the door to go outside the classroom, they are passing through the Door of Integrity and must remember to act on the traits listed on the door.
What kids learn: The door serves as a good way to remind children to stay disciplined and maintain decorum even outside the classroom.
Hurt or help
Make cutouts of quotes given by famous people. Read the quote out to the class and ask the class to discuss if the quote helps or hurts others. Make separate piles of positive and negative comments. When all quotes have been discussed, divide the class into groups and give each group a few positive and a few negative comments. Ask the groups to list out what they liked about the positive comments and to rewrite the negative comments in a positive manner.
What kids learn: Teaches students about politeness in a fun manner.
Show and tell
Host a show and tell every month. Use more complex themes like empathy, diversity, individuality, etc. to challenge kids to deepen their understanding of these concepts and give them opportunities to apply them to their personal life as well.
What kids learn: Students learn moral concepts which are sorely needed right now.
Pass it on
In this activity, ask students to remember one act of kindness someone has done for them in chits, sign it, and give it to you. Tell them that they must do the same act of kindness towards someone else. At the end of the exercise, children must share their experience of receiving and passing the act on. This exercise allows them to develop an attitude of gratitude and helpfulness.
What kids learn: Students learn the importance of being kind.
Kids in middle school are increasingly susceptible to peer pressure. Allow children to celebrate their individuality by hosting a talent show. Also, make it a point to celebrate unique ideas and actions brought up in class.
What kids learn: These actions will allow kids to embrace themselves just the way they are.
To encourage emotions of empathy and service, have kids take part in co-curricular activities that include helping others. Some of the activities can be teaching specially-abled kids of the same age, volunteering in NGOs, and working in an animal shelter.
What kids learn: Exposing children to an attitude of service early on helps ingrain a deeper sense of gratitude and empathy.
A book by its cover
Choose pictures of politicians and celebrities. Allow children to tell their assumptions about the popular public figures. After they do so, discuss stories of their struggle and stories that bust the assumptions the children have made.
What kids learn: This exercise can help children to learn not to judge people by their appearances.
Strengths and weaknesses
Allow children to explore their creative side in this exercise. Provide them with art supplies and ask them to make a board representing their strengths and weaknesses. Do not burden them with guidelines.
Allow them to express themselves through any medium they wish to. However, their strengths and weakness must clearly be outlined. Hold a discussion later on where students can talk about how they plan on nurturing their strengths and improving their weaknesses.
What kids learn: Teaches students how to evaluate their SWOTs.
Character Development Activities For Teenagers
Teenage is a confusing age for many people. It is important to have a strong support system as children go through this developmental phase in life. Wise choices and strong characters help smoothen out the rocky ride that is one’s teenage years. These character-building exercises can help teenagers in many ways.
The real world
Understanding one’s own responsibility and the responsibility of others is important to survive in the real world. Not having this understanding may lead to others taking advantage of the kids.
In situations like college and on a job, people may think they are obligated to do jobs that are not their responsibility. Ask children to make a chart that includes the responsibility of their teachers, their peers, and themselves.
What kids learn: This chart will help them realize that they need not to do other’s work and exactly what their responsibilities are.
Plan this activity over a month. Every week, show the children an inspirational TED talk that you think will help their character development. Ask students to take notes on the points made in the speech as well as what made the speech so attractive.
At the end of the month, ask students to choose their own TED talk topic. They must deliver a speech after a week. This enhances their confidence, public speaking skills, and understanding of positive traits.
What kids learn: Teaches children public speaking.
Bye to bullying
High school is a commonplace of peer bullying and peer pressure. The bullying also moves on to digital spaces. Have students talk about negative experiences they have and allow them to share how they think they must deal with the situation. Allow other students to pitch in helpful ideas. This activity may be sensitive and emotional. Stay alert to the feelings and reactions of all students in class. This exercise can help children realize how to effectively deal with bullying.
What kids learn: Helps children tackle the scourge of bullying in schools.
Wheel of wonder
To instill punctuality, reserve punishment for those who are late for class. Create a spinning wheel with different kinds of punishment like singing a song in class, reading a text message, reading out Shakespeare in front of the class, etc.
Ensure the punishments are not too harsh. This type of reinforcement will urge students to maintain discipline and arrive on time to class.
What kids learn: Makes students punctual.
Make a difference
Present students with opportunities for service. Some activities include volunteering in the cafeteria, washing the lockers, repainting the walls of the school, gardening the lawn, etc.
These are simple tasks that teens can do to help out the staff of the school. If students show interest in volunteering outside of school, show them support and encourage them to do so.
What kids learn: Children learn volunteering for worthy causes.
Text to talk
In this time and age, a lot of communication between teenagers happens via digital mediums. Short messages via text usually lead to a lot of miscommunication. To help teenagers learn how to efficiently communicate make them expand their own or hypothetical conversations over text.
Make them write down a dialogue of what they really wanted to express and hypothetical reactions of the other person. Doing a hypothetical roleplay in pairs will also help increase the understanding of efficient communication among the teens.
What kids learn:
Do the right thing
Teenage years are plagued with tough decisions and external factors influencing their vulnerable states of mind. Problems like substance abuse, depression, physical abuse, etc. are common among teens. Make children come up with scripts targeting one issue they think teens need help with.
Intervention and solutions to the problem must be included in some way in the script. Make students enact the script as well. This will help increase the understanding of the problems.
What kids learn: Teaches teenagers on how to evaluate and tackle their problems.
Make teens take a personality test to understand themselves better. This will also help them realize their strengths and weaknesses. Having a deep understanding of oneself helps individuals figure out ways to contribute their best in unique ways.
What kids learn: Helps students understand their traits and analyze their actions.
One minute lessons
Plan one-minute teachings on everyday skills. Topics can range from anywhere between proper discipline, appropriate touch, the importance of body language, etc. These lessons, though short, can help teens enhance their personal lives.
What kids learn: Children learn quick life lessons daily in a non-preachy way.
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Character Building Games for kids
Apart from school, kids spend a lot of time interacting with their friends and parents. Therefore, it also falls upon the parents to impart character-building traits and skills that will be helpful to children. Here are some games that children can play with their friends and parents to help build character.
This fun game involves stacking a tower. Players are required to remove blocks from the tower and place it above. As more and more blocks are removed from the base tower, the risk of the tower falling is higher.
As the game goes on, parents can start a discussion on the importance of a ground foundation for a strong tower. Similarly, have good morals and discipline forms the foundation for a good and successful life.
What kids learn: Children learn to appreciate that a solid foundation and planning are crucial for success in an endeavor.
Social skills and using strategy are important in all aspects of one’s life. The various card games for kids help improve these skills. It also adds confidence and rule-abiding nature to kids.
What kids learn: Kids learn to strategize and playing in a team.
Three players hold hands. One is chosen as the ‘Captain‘ the other two serve as bodyguards. A player outside the triangle must try to tag the Captain. The person outside the triangle cannot go in or attempt to break the triangle. Allow the round to go on for a minute or two.
The positions of players must be changed in the next round. Allow the children to discuss how it felt to be in the different positions and what takeaways from the game can be applied to their personal friendships and relationships.
What kids learn: Children learn to negotiate the social maze.
Chutes and ladders
This simple board game is one of the first games that most children play. Use the board game as a metaphor for life. Life consists of highs and lows. At times, they are a result of chance, sometimes a result of bad decisions. No matter the cause, they do happen. One must learn to deal with it efficiently without losing heart and passion for things one loves.
What kids learn: Children learn how to deal with ups and downs in their lives.
Friend or foe
This game best works in a group of twelve or larger. Each person chooses a friend and a foe. They must not disclose this information to anybody else. When the game starts, people must try to keep a friend between themselves and their foe.
After playing for a while, use the game to explain real-life situations. Everyone is going to meet some people who care for them and some who simply do not understand them or try to harm them. Try to identify any such people in personal lives and ideal ways to deal with them.
What kids learn: Children learn how to identify people’s intentions.
Character building is an important part of one’s childhood. Having a good understanding of oneself, having gratitude, and nature of service will take a person a long way. Instilling these habits in childhood is the best way to ensure the child’s success. These activities are fun ways of doing the same!
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