Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Nurturing virtue: Courtesy

Welcome to the first Nurturing virtue post! As you have gathered from the title, the virtue we covered this past week was courtesy. Before getting into the specifics of what we covered I just wanted to mention the activities that we do every week, with every virtue. We start each week by defining the new virtue, this involves me explaining what it means and then together we discuss it further, through asking questions, role playing, using puppets, and the like. Once that is completed I give the boys a blank piece of paper and crayons or markers and they create virtue posters for the week by illustrating what the virtue means to them. We keep these up on the fridge as a reminder of our focus virtue for those 7 days. Each day thereafter we build on this initial discussion of the virtue. All of this work is done during our circle time (Monday through Friday).

On to what we did this week:

We generally use the Virtue Project cards as a starting point for defining the virtue. After we defined courtesy we discussed how it feels when people are polite and how it feels when they aren’t, using role play. I acted some situations out, then Rylan did. After which we made our courtesy posters.

We learnt the following quote: “I admonish you to observe courtesy, for above all else it is the prince of virtues” by Bahá’u’lláh. Throughout the week we revisit this quote during circle time to make sure it really “sticks”. Here is a little trick that I have found to work like a charm – if you want your child to memorize something, sing it. If you do not feel comfortable with creating melodies yourself, use those of your favourite songs or nursery rhymes that have a “catchy” sound to them (this great piece of advice was given to me by my friend and an amazing teacher, thank you Katharine!).

We read two books relating to the theme of courtesy, the first is Be Polite and Kind by Cheri J. Meiners (this whole series of books is really great for teaching virtues) and the second, aimed at a younger age set was Excuse Me! by Karen Katz. We followed these books with singing this song from a Barney DVD we have, which also falls nicely under the theme of courtesy.

We played Being Polite, a very simple game I made up last year to have fun with learning courteous words. Basically I have a list of sentences to read out, each sentence explaining a situation that requires a courteous word in response (for example, "Mommy made you some yummy lunch", "Your friend thanks you for a gift", "You sneezed". For fun I throw in a few silly things to catch them off their guard, like "A monkey climbs up a tree" it makes them giggle and then they concentrate even harder because they are not sure when I will throw in a trick one). In response the kids have to give me the correct polite reaction to the situation. In Rylan's case he uses these little signs which I made for him (it gives him some reading practice too!), he just holds up the correct one. Damian is allowed to shout them out, since he is not reading yet.
Lastly we made courtesy crowns, following the quote that courtesy "is the prince of all virtues". I cut the crowns out of craft foam (you could also use cardboard, felt, or other fabrics) and stuck on the label "courtesy".
They got to decorate them with glitter glue, to make the jewels on the crown (if you used a fabric you could have them decorate with fabric pens or paints, if you used cardboard you could decorate with stickers, if you don't want to get really messy. You could also glue or sew on those fake jewels you find in craft stores, or beads would work too). Unfortunately, I forgot to take a picture of them actually wearing the crowns!
If you use these ideas with your children, please let me know how it goes, and share any other ideas you may have! Happy virtue teaching!


  1. great ideas, i love the crowns!

  2. beautiful! I wish Leah and I could join you and the boys there ... :)
    thank you for sharing ...

  3. I am visiting from Preschool Corner - you have a lovely blog. It's pretty neat that you make an effort to focus on virtues - I think we need to do a bit more of this here.



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