Using Heroes To Teach Values
This month's theme focuses on helping children develop a sense of what is noble and good and worth striving for in life. By using heroes to teach values, parents, caregivers and teachers are feeding young minds with examples of goals that are worth pursuing, qualities in human beings that are admirable and worth emulating, and that heroes are just people, like you and I, who are helping other people and making a difference in the world.
When teaching about values and heroism, it is important to selected heroes from various cultures in different parts of the world. This will help the children to realize that heroes are in every culture and that race has no bearing on heroic acts and the values they reflect.
Using heroes to teach values allows teachers, through real life examples or through fiction, to exemplify virtues such as honesty, civility, courage, perseverance, loyalty, self-restraint, compassion, tolerance, fairness, respect for individuals, responsibility, and so on.
It also provides opportunities to point out that human kindness is important in our daily lives, as are respect for our parents, family, and everyone in our community, honesty and trust in all our relationships, helping those less fortunate than ourselves, and being generous which ultimately brings us such happiness.
Foundation for a Better Life
child care online recommends caregivers and parents visit the Foundation for a Better Life Web site for theme ideas, stories, and to help set the tone for their program.
"The Foundation for a Better Life creates public service campaigns to communicate the values that make a difference in our communities, values such as honesty, caring, optimism, hard work, and helping others. These messages, communicated utilizing television, theatres, billboards, radio, internet, etc., model the benefits of a life lived by positive values. The Foundation encourages others to step up to a higher level and then to pass on those positive values they have learned. These seemingly small examples of individuals living values-based lives may not change the world, but collectively they will make a difference. And in the process help make the world a better place for everyone. After all, developing values and then passing them on to others is The Foundation for a Better Life."
There are many ways you can teach children the value of heroism right in your own community. You could:
Arrange for the children to spend some time in the community providing support for older generations by paying visits to senior's centres, nursing homes, community centres, etc.
Invite local heroes to come and talk to the children. Through this you could also teach language skills by write a letter inviting the local hero to pay them a visit, and follow up with a thank you letter.
Have the children participate in community events like cleaning up local parks or planting trees.
Visit the local fire hall or police station. Bring them cookies or hero ribbons or badges of courage made by the children in appreciation for their bravery each and every day.
Talk to children about ways they can be a hero as a group. Perhaps they could assist a needy family at Thanksgiving or Christmas, take up a can good or penny drive to present to a local charitable organization, recycle products to save the earth, raking leaves for seniors, and so on.
Stories about female and male heroes in history and in fiction will grab the children's attention and give caregivers an opportunity to lead a discussion about values. Teachers can ask questions about what type of hero the person was, what they did that made them such a hero, and what the children could do today to be like the hero. Such stories about heroes provide examples of values that students can recognize and follow.
Other language enhancing projects might include helping the children to write letters to the New York Fire Department or their own local fire department. Herein lies an opportunity to discuss with the children the important work done by Fire Fighters. You could also talk about other community helpers and their roles. Talk about how they protect and keep us safe. Use the brainstorming session to write out words such as - appreciate, safe, community, courageous, brave, strong, determined, etc..
Talk to the children about the different characteristics of a hero including:
Outwitting formidable foes
Acts of bravery (get pictures or real-life samples of badges given to citizens for acts of valour, etc.)
Overcoming racism or discrimination
Unlikely heroes like children, animals, persons with disabilities
Determination and courage
Historical heroes like Martin Luther King, War heroes, Native heroes, etc.
You could help the children draw a picture and write a simple sentence like: "If I were a hero, I would…" You could give examples such as, care about their friends, help their parents, be kind to people, say hello to neighbors. Or, you could pick a theme as presented on The Foundation for a Better Life to demonstrate the different values the children can possess that make a hero. This exercise encourages children to think of themselves as heroes and feel good about it.
And don't forget to make a trip to your local library. Your librarian can assist you with your Hero theme offering great books to read, ideas for language skills, crafts and cooking, etc.
Arts & Crafts
I am a Hero Bookmarks
Take strips of heavier construction paper and have the children make I Am a Hero Bookmarks. When they are done, punch holes in the top of the strip and tie on a simple tassel. The children can be any type of hero they choose. Examples of bookmarks can be found and ordered through
Heroes Hall of Fame (or Bulletin Board)
Create a display in your entrance hallway or on a bulletin board displaying pictures, simple articles, and the words you talked about during your reading times of heroes. The children can draw their heroes, cut out pictures of police and firefighters from magazines or newspapers, or bring in pictures of their parents, grandparents or other family members they are proud of and look up to. Be sure to include stories and pictures (you can also print out stories off the Internet, of children who are heroes). This gives encouragement to the children....if these other children can do great things...so can they.
Ribbons and Medals
Have the children decide which heroes they would like to honour. This could actually turn into a monthly project, for example, this month we'll honour our war Veterans. Make honourary ribbons of honour or hero medals out of ribbon and paper. Help the children decorate the ribbons with a special phrase or simple notation of what the ribbon is for. With the children, write a letter to the Veterans society and invite a number of local Vets to visit the children. When they are done telling the children about their gift to their country, their bravery and courage, have the children recognize their sacrifices and courage by bestowing them with the ribbons of honour. A refreshment party could proceed this event.
Cooking: Children enjoy cooking at the best of times. But when they know they are cooking a special treat for a hero, their efforts takes on a whole new sense of pride and appreciation. During the hero theme the children can bake cookies, make muffins or other treats to give to the guest they've invited to visit them, or to the seniors they visit, or just as a thank you gift for the Firefighters. Cooking time also provides another opportunity to discuss the values of a hero, or to have the children tell their own stories of heroes in their lives.
Science: Depending on what hero you chose to learn about, there may be an opportunity to learn about science. Take a story of Benjamin Franklin for example. Your local librarian can help you with book on simple science activities for the children related to his contribution to mankind. And there is certainly something to be learned from the story of Florence Nightingale or Amelia Earhart.