My first day in class with the 5th Grade was spent talking about decision making. The kids broke up into groups and played a game using scenario cards. There are 12 cards (an example is pictured below); the kids take turns reading the cards and then they reveal their answers Rock, Paper, Scissors style with the Yes, No and Maybe cards. I’m always very thankful for the LCUSD setup with the picnic tables outside the classrooms because the discussions get loud and the tables outside helps to spread the kids out a bit.
Some of the themes and topics we covered include:
- You have a chance to cheat; what do you do?
- A friend tells you a secret; do you tell?
- You find a wallet with money and an ID; do you try to return it?
- Your mom tells you to do your homework and read for a specific amount of time, but you want to watch TV; do you obey mom’s orders?
- You see a student doing something dangerous at school; do you tell a teacher?
- You break something at your friend’s house and they get blamed; do you speak up?
The kids really got into it, and we finished the class by talking about some of the scenarios as a group. I emphasized that our decisions shape who we are and how others see us; I want the kids to understand that having integrity and doing the right thing is a habit that needs to be ingrained just like brushing your teeth and eating healthy.
Almost all 5th graders have a good handle on what is right and what is wrong when it comes to these types of decisions. However, kids that age (and sometimes adults too) would rather come up with elaborate reasons to justify doing what’s wrong instead of just keeping it simple and doing what’s right.
Elementary school students of all ages do multiple craft projects where students declare their self image and the things they like (for example, the flower petal crafts pictured above). Students describe themselves as “fun”, “athletic”, “hard-working” and all sorts of other positive labels. I point out to the kids that I’ve never seen one of these crafts where a kid described themselves as “dishonest” or “lazy” or as a “cheater”, but there are still kids that act that way. However we think of ourselves, its important that the choices we make match up with the person we think we are. We can declare whatever we want about ourselves, but our actions tell those around what to believe.