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Finding Your Way: A Play-Based Guide to Character Development in Schools

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Gold's book has a wealth of lesson plans for pre-kindergarten through fifth grade to help develop values and spark important discussions on feelings, friendship, communication and leadership. Drawing from her professional training as a counselor and her independent school classroom experience, Gold crafted these lessons around her school's touchstone, "The Newman Way," and Isidore Newman School's four pillars: respect, responsibility, kindness and honesty. Her lessons are easily adapted to fit other school touchstones or missions. 


Sample Activity

Feeling Faces

Construction paper, crayons, popsicle sticks, scissors, glue or tape

Instruct students to make three feeling faces; one happy, one sad and one that represents an emotion that they frequently have. This last face is helpful for learning about a student who might be anxious, worried, or scared. The students should draw the faces, cut them out and tape or glue them to a popsicle stick. Next, read the listed scenarios and ask the students to hold up the face that represents how they feel when they are in each situation.

Situations: How do you feel…?

• on the first day of school

• on your birthday

• when a friend invites you to play

• when a friend shares with you

• when someone calls you a name

• when you get left out of a game

• when someone yells at you

• when you get a hug from Mom/Dad/Caregiver

• when someone says “thank you” to you

• when someone tells you they love you

This exercise helps students learn to share their feelings in a group. It is important to instruct students to be respectful of others’ feelings and not to laugh at or judge another student’s response. This activity also helps to universalize feelings, as many students will have the same response to many of the questions. Students will begin to see that we are more alike than different in the ways we feel. 

Note Home
This month in character development, the First Grade classes learned about empathy. We started our lesson with an art project that consisted of making a smiley face, a sad face, and a face that represented any emotion we frequently experience: excited, tired, lonely, scared, etc. We then sat in a circle and shared how we felt about a variety of situations that the teacher read aloud. We held up our emotion faces to indicate how we felt when we had a particular feeling about a situation. We could easily look around the circle and see that many of us feel the very same way about situations that we all experience in First Grade.


  • 72 pages, and CD with handouts
  • Published by CSEE, 2012

[Subject: Moral Development and Character Education]
[Subject: School Culture]


CSEE | 910 M Street NW #722, Washington, DC 20001 | (800) 298-4599



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