Life Skills/Pressing Issues
Respect of Self and Others
Better Today Than Yesterday
Nothing good ever comes from acting as if you are better than others.
Real goodness (true nobility) comes from trying to be a better person today than the person you were yesterday.
Students consider setting that as a goal for themselves knowing that each day provides an opportunity to be a better
person than the day before.
Key Ideas: Acting superior to others - Being a better person today than you were yesterday
Character Traits: Respect - Integrity - Trustworthiness
Clean and Bright
We view the world through many windows, one of which is our conscience. When we make
caring, honest, and responsible choices, our conscience is clear and we are better able to navigate our way to a
more successful life. Students explore the meaning of the word "conscience" and the benefits of a clear conscience.
Key Idea: A clear conscience allows us to see things more clearly and to make wiser choices.
Character Traits: Caring - Honesty - Responsibility
* Reflection is a key component of character development. Students are encouraged
to spend some time this summer watching the clouds go by and reflecting on the kind of person they are and the kind
of person they want to become.
Key Idea: The importance of reflection for character development
Character Traits: Self-respect - Responsibility
Note: This message and lesson plan also work well at the end of the school year before summer break.
Did You Do That On Purpose?
* Life can be so random at times. It can be confusing and challenging. For
life to make sense, it has to have meaning. It has to have purpose, and having purpose in our lives is something we
choose because when we do anything on purpose, we do it deliberately. Students explore the importance of choosing
a worthy purpose in their lives.
Key Ideas: Making good choices - Goal setting
Character Traits: Respect - Responsibility
Note: This message and lesson plan also work well for Be On Purpose Month: January.
Disagreeing with Respect
** Respect makes all the difference in the world when we are speaking with someone who disagrees
with us. When we speak respectfully to others, they are more likely to listen to our point of view. Students will
consider the idea that choosing the right tone and respectful words will lead to a more civil discussion.
Key Idea: Being respectful to others even when we disagree with them
Character Traits: Respect - Civility - Open-mindedness
Doing One's Best
* Imagine a world where people simply did as they pleased all the time and
felt no duty to excel at school, at work, or in their relationships. Abraham Lincoln once wrote that "a duty to strive is
the duty of us all." Students consider the idea that we each have a responsibility to ourselves and to others
to strive to do our very best.
Key Idea: Striving to do one's best
Character Traits: Responsibility - Human excellence - Perseverance
Note: This message and lesson plan also work well for Abraham Lincoln's birthday: February 12.
Etiquette on the Internet is called Netiquette. These rules are especially important
for young people as their lives and their world become more connected through technology. When they treat themselves
and others with mutual respect, they avoid the negative consequences that inevitably come with disrespectful online
behaviors, and avoid a negative and permanent digital record they may otherwise leave behind.
Key Ideas: Etiquette online - Netiquette - Golden Rule - 21st century skills
Character Traits: Respect of self and others - Responsibility - Civility
Everyone Has a Gift
Every person on Planet Earth has a special gift to give the world, a special
talent or skill he or she can use to make our world a better place. Each person's gift is important and it's
important to know what our gift is so we can use it to make the world a better place.
Key Ideas: Each of us is gifted for something - Discovering one's special qualities and gifts - Making a difference in the world
Character Traits: Self-respect - Responsibility
Exploring Our Character
* Exploration is one of the oldest of all human activities. Since the beginning of time mankind has explored for land, water,
food, and treasure. Today people explore outer space and the deep sea. The wisest and most successful human beings
continually explore their character through inner reflection. Students will consider the notion that reflection builds character and fosters successful living.
Key Ideas: Self-examination - Reflection - Exploring our own character
Character Traits: Respect - Responsibility
Note: This message and lesson plan also work well for Columbus Day.
Here Comes Tomorrow
Students are often tempted to put things off until tomorrow, but moving their
responsibilities forward does not make them go away. In fact, it can make them seem bigger and more stressful. In
this plan, students consider the negative consequences of procrastination and explore tools and strategies for staying
on top of things.
Key Ideas: Procrastination - Tools for overcoming procrastination
Character Traits: Self-management - Responsibility - Self-esteem
In Pursuit of Integrity
Choosing to live a life of integrity means that we must be honest with ourselves and others. We must reflect on our choices and decide what
ethical principles are most important to us and then make the effort to live by those principles. Students will consider
the meaning of integrity and how it relates to being an honest and respectful person.
Key Ideas: Living a life of integrity - Being an honest and trustworthy person
Character Traits: Integrity - Honesty - Respect
* Students explore the notion that it's important to put our whole heart into whatever
promises we make to ourselves. They explore the idea of being a more active participant in all aspects of their lives.
Key Idea: Making resolutions as a way to reach goals and dreams
Character Traits: Determination - Commitment - Confidence - Positive attitude
Note: This message and lesson plan also work well for the New Year's holiday.
The Little Engine That Could
* Students revisit The Little Engine That Could, who understood something very important: What we think upon grows inside
Key Ideas: Positive thinking - Attitudes affect the outcome - Overcoming challenges
Character Traits: Positive attitude - Perseverance - Courage
Note: This message and lesson plan also work well for What You Think Upon Grows Day: May 31st.
Little Voice Within
There are times when we need to shut out the noise, get quiet, and listen to the little
voice within so we do the right thing for ourselves and others. Students consider the function of their conscience
and that listening to their conscience will help them build self-respect, confidence and the respect of others.
Key Idea: The importance of listening to one's conscience
Character Traits: Conscience - Respect of self and others
Look At Me!
Most people like positive attention. When young people treat themselves and others with respect,
they earn the kind of attention they can be proud of. Students consider the difference between getting positive and negative
attention and how being a respectful person will help them get the positive attention they seek.
Key Ideas: Seeking negative attention - Choosing positive behaviors
Character Trait: Respect
Look Who's Watching
We may get by with some poor choices when we think nobody's looking, but there's one
very important person who is always watching - ourself, and our opinion of ourself matters. Students explore the
importance of self-awareness, realizing that they are always watching their own behavior and the choices they make.
Key Ideas: Character is who you are when no one's looking - Right choices build self-esteem
Character Traits: Self-respect - Self-awareness - Integrity
More than Personality
Young people often get snared in the notion that what's important is having
a cool personality. Our personalities are what make us special and unique, but our personalities will only take us so far.
What really matters - and what will ultimately determine any true success in life - is the content of our character.
Key Ideas: Unique personalities - Common character traits
Character Traits: Respect - Fairness - Honesty
Striving to be a noble human being should be a goal each of us sets for ourselves. That
can be as simple as doing tasks and jobs that may not be the most pleasant or glamorous, but that help make lives
better for others. Students will consider what it means to make a personal sacrifice in order to help another person
live a more successful life.
Key Ideas: All honest work is noble. - Noble people put others before their own self-interests.
Character Traits: Nobility - Generosity of spirit - Caring - Respect
Reaching for Greatness
* Every single one of us has the potential for greatness, no matter what circumstances
we were born into, no matter what types of challenges we face. Students have the opportunity to consider that greatness
can manifest in many ways.
Key Ideas: Personal potential - Striving to be one's best - Overcoming obstacles
Character Traits: Determination - Hard work - Encouragement
Note: This message and lesson plan also work well for National Reaching Your Potential Month: January.
Rich Man - Poor Man
It's been said that the best things in life aren't things at all. Students explore
the concept that money and possessions do not buy happiness and that success cannot be measured
by the things we own.
Key Ideas: Quality of life - Materialism - Priorities - Successful living
Character Traits: Self-respect - Love - Kindness
Stuff, Stuff, More Stuff
Even though many of us have more stuff than we need, we still shop for more. The old stuff might still be good
but we think the newer stuff will be better. This message and lesson plan help students consider the time spent
taking care of their stuff as well as exploring the possibilities of reusing old stuff, recycling, or donating it to others.
Key Ideas: The difference between needing and wanting things - Taking care of our things - Discarding things respectfully
Character Traits: Responsibility - Respect
That's Not Fair
We are all guilty of saying "That's not fair," but sometimes when we think we are being treated
unfairly, the truth is, we are not. Before blaming others for treating us unfairly - and therefore being unfair to
them - it's important to consider carefully what really happened. Students explore the costs and benefits of being
Key Ideas: Treating others with the same fairness we expect - Golden Rule
Character Traits: Respect - Fairness - Caring - Honesty - Personal responsibility
Traits of Explorers
Ever wondered about something mysterious and unknown? While the way we travel has changed a great deal since the days of Columbus,
people still want to discover new places. It's our innate curiosity, coupled with perseverance and commitment that
makes us explorers. These traits are at the core of learning.
Key Ideas: The importance of exploring ideas - Keeping the wonder in learning
Character Traits: Perseverance - Commitment - Love of learning
Note: This message and lesson plan also works well for Columbus Day.
What I Think of Me
Being a person of character means that you worry less about fitting in and looking good
in the eyes of others and worry more about doing what you know is right. Students consider the importance of having
strong character and how that sometimes requires making difficult choices.
Key Ideas: Caring more about your character than what others think of you - One's reputation
Character Traits: Integrity - Moral courage
* Materials with an asterisk (*) relate to Respect of Self and Others
and are also related to a calendar event. These same materials can also
be found under Calendar Events.
** These same materials can also be found under Citizenship.
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