Character Education Articles | Sweet Sadie Mae ®

Helping children build character through books, standards-based lessons and engaging English Language Arts activities.

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Character Education

Positive Character Traits List for Kids

During a child's developmental years we all look for good and bad personality traits that can help define a child's character. Children usually display both good and not so good character traits within their personalities.

We can usually see the character of a child through their actions, especially their interactions with children around them. So if you want to learn the character traits of a child, try observing how they interact with others. Here are some tips for recognizing traits with kids. 

Tips for Recognizing Character Traits in Children

You can learn and recognize the character traits for kids if you observe their interactions, specifically how they react with:

  •  the other children they play with
  •  children who are their friends
  •  children who are not their friends
  •  adults in their lives, such as teachers, aunts, uncles and their friend's parents

We all know that kids have good and bad character traits, so here's a short list of some positive and bad character traits commonly found in children:

Positive Character Traits List:

Bad Character Traits List:

  • Disrespectful
  • Dishonest
  • Rude
  • Greedy
  • Selfish
  • Mean
  • Unkind
  • Sneaky

Character Education

Character education is the instruction of moral and ethical values. This includes parents and teachers teaching children character traits that will help them become moral adults. Qualities such as kindness, respect, responsibility, and caring are the common traits taught in today's character education programs and curricula.

To learn more about personality traits, try reading about the big five traits


Best Friends Forever BFF Quotes

Quotes About Best Friends

Here are some BFF quotes (best friends forever) from some of our character building short stories. Enjoy them and feel free to use them as starting points to teach character to young learners. 

Best Friends Forever (BFF) Quotes

"Barkley, you don't have to be a girl to be my BFF, you just have to be my best friend forever!!!"
- by Sweet Sadie Mae

"Sweety a BFF (best friend forever) doesn't get you in trouble. A best friend is supposed to keep you out of trouble." 
- by Aunt Sharie

"Not so rough Sweet Sadie Mae, if Barkley's suppose to be your BFF, you have to treat him a bit nicer than you do." 
-Sweet Sadie Mae's Dad

"Barkley, it's ok for your best friends to tell you if you're wrong. That's what best friends are for." 
- by Sweet Sadie Mae

"If she's your BFF why did she say those mean things about you online? You have to do a better job at picking your friends Heather." 
- by Heather's Mom

Hope you enjoyed these quotes, feel free to use them in your learning environment, and if you do, please let us know in the comments. 


Good Quality Character Traits Every Kid Should Have

As parents, grandparents and caregivers, there are numerous quality traits that we want our children to have. In this article, we’ll talk about five important character traits that are essential for kids to have. These are great traits for children to learn during their character education learning.

Let's Start with Good Character Trait #5: Self-Control

Having self-control over one's mind and body is a great trait for children to have, because it keeps them from making hasty or impulsive decisions. Children and adults who have the ability to stop and think, instead of reacting emotionally or impulsively, in tough situations, exhibit good self-control.

An Example and Benefit of Self-Control in Children

A 10-year-old and a 5-year-old are playing, and the 5-year-old punches the 10-year-old. The first impulse of the older child may be to hit back. Instead, the 10-year-old stops and thinks, “Hey, this 5-year-old is much smaller than me and doesn't know that when he punches me, it hurts. So I’m not going to retaliate by hitting him back.” In this case, the older child has exhibited good self-control, because he thought about the consequences instead of responding on pure impulse. Practicing self control can prevent many bad situations like from occurring.

Ok, Let's Move on to Good Character Trait #4: Courage

When we talk about courage as a character trait in children, we're not talking about the courage to fight off three bullies. We're talking about actions that seem small to us as adults, but are big in children's lives. Courage for children comes in very different ways.

Why is Courage Important for Children?

Courageous children are able to carry out sometimes difficult actions, such as:

  • speaking up for themselves or others when appropriate
  • not always following the crowd, especially when the crowd is engaged in bad/dangerous activities
  • walking away from a fight or argument before it starts

Having courage can arm children with the tools needed to make decisions that can greatly improve their lives. A seemingly little thing like having the courage to say no to a dangerous activity could potentially save another child’s life or their own.

An Example of Courage in Children

A child is hanging out in the neighborhood with a group of friends, and one of them says, “Hey, it would be cool to go play on the train tracks.” The other kids agree and proceed to go play on the tracks. Instead of following his/her friends, the child decides, “Playing on the train tracks is dangerous. Even if my friends are doing it, I'm not going to do it.” Children who are able to make similar decisions have courage, which can help keep them out of harm’s way for years to come.

Ok, Let's Move on to Good Character Trait #3: Kindness

Having kindness, and the ability to show it, is another great character trait that children should have. Kindness includes the quality of being friendly, considerate and generous to other people and the environment.

It’s important for children to learn and practice kindness, because children who are kind to others, and the world around them, are more likely to continue this behavior as adults.

An Example of Kindness in Children

When a child falls or gets hurt, and a classmate asks, “Are you alright?” and helps pick him up, that classmate is showing kindness. Children who have the ability to show kindness, grow up to be adults who are more likely to continue showing kindness to others..

Ok, Let's Move on to Good Character Trait #2: Respect

Respect, or having high regard for someone or something, is another great character trait for children to have. Respect is often earned from or demanded by others.
When children are able to have and show respect for others, they’re more likely to listen, follow directions and be disciplined.

An Example of Respect in Children

The home and classroom are ideal environments for children to practice respect for their parents and teachers. There may be many times when children do not want to do what their parents/teachers say, or do not agree with what their parents/teachers say. At these times, it is important for children to be respectful.

Having respect for a teacher/parent allows children to be obedient, even if they disagree with or do not understand what is being asked of them.

Ok, Let's Move on to Good Character Trait #1: Love

Love is hands down the most important character trait for children to have. While the formal definition of love is “an intense feeling of deep affection,” we know that definition cannot sum up what love is.

Love is intangible and cannot be taught, from a book like other school subjects, but children can learn what love is through positive experiences with parents, family and friends. Childhood experiences can greatly affect how children treat others and themselves as adults.

Children can learn and experience love when:

  • They build positive memories with family and friends
  • Witness positive interactions among family and friends
  • See family members take care of their own mental, physical and spiritual health

Children often learn by imitation; therefore, children who are often surrounded by love are more likely to love others and themselves. Love helps children improve their ability to build healthy relationships as adults.

An Example of Love in Children

A group of children are playing together at the park. An unpopular kid (but the best friend of one of the children) attempts to join the fun. A couple of kids decide to make malicious jokes about the unpopular kid, but one kid (the best friend) decides not to join in on the jokes. He understands that joining in on the jokes, about his friend, is not the way to show his friend love.

Good Character Trait Summary

Let’s review the five quality character traits for children to have:

  1. Love
  2. Respect
  3. Kindness
  4. Courage
  5. Self Control

Situations where these traits are handy are prevalent in our children’s daily lives. Helping your child develop these quality character traits during their developmental years will prepare them to become respectful, caring and kind adults.

In the comments section below, feel free to share other character traits that you believe are ideal for children to have.


Original Diverse Characters for Our Online Kids Books

Visit our Characters Page to learn more about the Sweet Sadie Mae original characters we use in our online kids' books.  

Sweet Sadie Mae Original Characters


My Favorite Superhero, A Story About Sharing & Compromising at Halloween

Enjoy this read aloud of "My Favorite Superhero, The Battle for Mr. Galaxy" an original story from our Sweet Sadie Mae Character Corner® platform.  

"My Favorite Superhero, The Battle for Mr. Galaxy" takes place around Halloween, and opens up the conversation about sharing and compromising. It’s part of our SSM What Would You Do?™ Volumes. Similar stories are available on our Character Corner platform. Please tell us what you think. Feel free to leave your thoughts in the comments.



It’s Not Easy Being Teased! A Story About Bullying & Teasing.

Enjoy this read aloud of "It’s Not Easy Being Teased!" an original story from our Sweet Sadie Mae Character Corner® platform.  

"It’s Not Easy Being Teased!" is a story about teasing and bullying. It’s part of our SSM What Would You Do?™ Volumes. Similar stories are available on our Character Corner platform. Please tell us what you think. Feel free to leave your thoughts in the comments. 



Principal Nadia Lopez, Making a Difference at Mott Hall Bridges Academy

Here's a great story about Principal Nadia Lopez, of Mott Hall Bridges Academy. She's making a true difference in the lives of students. 



The ability to feel, or show, pleasure and statisfaction.



The ability to remain calm when delays or problems occur.


Kindness Character Traits Graphic Organizer for the Classroom Poster

Teachers feel free to use this kindness character trait graphic organizer to motivate students to show acts of kindness with the reward of displaying their name on the poster. 

This character trait graphic organizer poster is designed to be printed at the smallest size of 11x17 inches and at the highest 19x27 inches.

Download the Kindness Character Trait Graphic Organizer for the Classroom


Character Education Lesson Plans & Activity Ideas for Elementary Children

We all know how important the instruction of character education is in raising our children to be moral and ethical adults. 

Since children spend a large portion of their youth development in school, the bulk of their character education and reinforcement will come from teacher lesson plans.

Here are a few character education lesson plan ideas that teachers can use in their character education curriculum for elementary age children. Parents  can also use these ideas as a base for the character education activities at home with their children.

Character Education Lesson Plan Idea 1: Have an Open Discussion about the Difference Between Bullying and Playful Teasing

Kids will be kids, and they will tease each other with friendly intentions, but all children don't take friendly teasing well. When children have the ability to know the difference between bullying and friendly teasing, it makes it easier for parents and teachers to take proper action in cases of bullying.

For this lesson core, have a discussion with children  about the difference between bullying and playful teasing. Record discussion responses on a mind map and ask children if there are any questions they want answered about bully or playful teasing.

Character Education Lesson Plan Idea 2: Reinforce Respect for Teachers, Parents and Older Adults

Having respect for teachers, parents and caretakers is definitely an important part to a child's successful development. Without respect for these authority figures children miss out on the helpful advice that these adults give to them.

For the lesson core, focus on why it's important for children to have respect for authority figures.

Work through a scenario vs. chart, which shows two scenarios and two different outcomes:

  1. One where a child is in a situation where he listens to and respects an adult figure, which results in a positive outcome.
  2. One where the same child is faced with the same situation but disrespects the adult figure, which results in a negative outcome.

For a lesson plan activity on respect check out our teaching children respect for teachers classroom and parent and child activities.

Character Education Lesson Plan Idea 3: Show Examples of Good and Bad Character Traits 

Children should understand what good and bad character traits look like. When children recognize good and bad character traits they can identify the behavior that causes them, which will help shape their overall personality and character.

For the lesson core, show children examples of good and bad character traits. Integrate cartoon clips that have characters whose behaviors demonstrate good and bad character traits.

Here are some 80's - 90's Cartoon Shows with Characters that show Good and Bad Character Traits:

  • The Jetsons
  • Duck Tales
  • Dark Wing Duck

Summary of Character Education Lesson Plan Ideas

  1. Have an Open Discussion about the Difference Between Bullying and Playful Teasing
  2. Reinforce Respect for Teachers, Parents and Older Adults
  3. Show Examples of Good and Bad Character Traits

I hope these character education ideas for elementary school children help you develop full lesson plans to help children develop character. Be sure to check out our online platform Character Corner, filled with stories, biographies, facts and activities to help build children's character. Also read our showing respect for teachers activity to learn more about teaching children to show respect. 

If you have any character education lesson plan ideas that you want to share, please list them in the comments.

Thank you,


Helen Keller: Author, Women’s Rights Leader, Supporter of People with Disabilities: Women’s History

Helen Keller: Women are Extraordinary: Women's History Fact

Did you know even though Helen Keller was blinded by an illness when she was a child, she grew up to become a best-selling author, a leader in the Women’s Rights Movement, and a supporter for people with disabilities? 

Helen Keller helped the world realize that people with disabilities are intelligent and can make great contributions to society.

Helen Keller: Did You Know Women Are Extraordinary


Women are Extraordinary, Celebrating Women’s History: Women’s History Month Fact 1

Celebrating Women’s History: Women are Extraordinary

Did you know the original idea of celebrating Women’s History was created in 1981 when Congress passed Public Law 97-28., which requested the president to create a week of celebrating Women’s History?   

It wasn’t until one year later that the first celebration of Women’s History took place.

Celebrating Women's History: Women Are Extraordinary Women History Fact


Dr. Charles R. Drew: Black History Month Fact 19


Did you know that African American surgeon Dr. Charles R. Drew is responsible for creating, organizing and directing the first large-scale blood banking program?

Dr. Drew was also responsible for developing a new technique that helped preserve blood longer for future transfusions.

Source: Library of Congress

Dr. Charles R. Drew Black History Month Facts


James Baldwin: Writer, Poet and Activist: Black History Month Fact 18


Did you know that famous writer, poet and activist James Baldwin was inspired at a young age by African American artist Beauford Delaney?

Beauford Delaney inspired James by showing him that African Americans can be artists.

Source: Library of Congress

James Baldwin: Writer, Poet, Activist: Black History Facts


Marcus Garvey: Writer, Publisher, Political Leader: Black History Month Fact 17


Did you know that Marcus Garvey, a successful writer, publisher, business man and political leader, began his love of reading as a child?

Marcus' dad had a large library of books, so he took advantage by reading all he could.

Marcus' love of reading helped him become successful in writing, publishing and business.

Source: Library of Congress

 Marcus Garvey: Writer, Publisher: Black History Fact


Sojourner Truth: Black History Month Fact 16


Did you know even though Sojourner Truth was born a slave and had no formal education, she became a historical leader in the fight against slavery and women's rights?

In 1851, Sojourner delivered her famous speech, "Ain’t I A Woman" in support for equality and women's rights.

Source: Library of Congress

Sojourner Truth Black History Fact


President Barack Obama: Education and Civil Rights: Black History Month Fact 15


Did you know President Obama is a graduate of Harvard Law School and Columbia University?

After law school, President Obama worked as a civil rights attorney helping people protect their rights.

President Obama believes in protecting citizens’ civil rights and granting them equal opportunities.

Source: The White House

President Barack Obama: Education and Civil Rights


President Barack Obama Before He Became President: Black History Month Fact 14


Did you know President Barack Obama, the first African American President, used to teach constitutional law at the University of Chicago?

Before he became president, President Obama also worked with churches to rebuild communities affected by job loss.

President Obama believes that people have the strength to achieve any goal by working together.

Source: The White House

President Obama Before He Became President


Civil Rights Act & Voting Rights Act Dr. Martin Luther King: Black History Month Fact 13


Did you know that even after the Civil Rights Act of 1964 was passed, Dr. Martin Luther King continued to fight for equal voting rights?

The Civil Rights Act made it illegal to treat people differently because of the color of their skin, but there were still voting laws that made it difficult for black people to vote.

Dr. King and others used non-violent protests, walks and speeches to fight against these unfair voting laws. In 1965 the Voting Rights Act was passed, which outlawed unfair voting practices. 

Dr. King’s and other protestors’ non-violent actions contributed to the passing of the Voting Rights Act. 


Source: Library of Congress


Civil Rights Act & Voting Rights Act Dr. Martin Luther King BLACK HISTORY MONTH FACT


1964 Nobel Peace Prize Winner Dr. Martin Luther King: Black History Month Fact 12


Did you know Dr. Martin Luther King, the most important voice in the fight for equal rights, won a Nobel Peace Prize in 1964?

Dr. King traveled over six million miles and spoke over twenty-five hundred times to stand up for injustices and inequality. 

In 1964, Dr. King was the youngest man to receive the Nobel Peace Prize.

Source: Nobel Prize Web

Nobel Peace Prize in 1964 Dr. Martin Luther King


Mathematician and Astronomer Benjamin Banneke: Black History Month Fact 11


Did you know Benjamin Banneker a mathematician, and astronomer, taught himself mathematics through textbooks he borrowed?

As an adult, Benjamin used mathematics and astronomy to predict the weather and write his own almanac, which was used by farmers.     

Benjamin’s work was so impressive that Thomas Jefferson recommended him to join the survey team that mapped out Washington, D.C.

Source: Library of Congress

Mathematician and Astronomer Benjamin Banneke: Black History Month Fact 11


The Will of Wilma Rudolph: Black History Month Fact 10


Did you know Wilma Rudolph, the first American woman to win three Gold Track & Field medals in one Olympics didn’t walk without support-braces until she was 9 years old.

Due to a childhood illness, Wilma’s left leg was twisted, but she didn’t let that stop her. Wilma went on to play basketball in high-school, win four Olympic medals, set world records, and start the Wilma Rudolph Foundation to help young athletes.

Source: WhiteHouse Kids

The Will of Wilma Rudolph: Black History Month Fact 10


The Many Roles of Harriet Tubman: Black History Month Fact #7


Did you know even though Harriet Tubman was born a slave, she grew up to accomplish extraordinary things? 

Harriet lead hundreds of slaves to freedom in the North, became a leader in the movement against slavery and a spy for the Union Army during the Civil War.  

In addition to these accomplishments, Harriet Tubman also saved lives as a nurse during the Civil War.

Source: The Library Of Congress

Black History Month Fact


Frederick Douglass Supported the Women’s Movement: Black History Month Fact #6


Did you know Frederick Douglass was not only a contributor to the abolishment of slavery, but also supported the women's rights movement?

Douglass believed that women should have the same rights as men, such as voting and holding positions in government.

Source: National Park Service, U.S. Department of the Interior


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