- do what they're supposed to do.
- persevere and keep on trying!
- always do their best.
- use self-control and are self-disciplined.
- think before they act and consider the consequences.
- are accountable for their choices.
|Responsibility is all about choices and chores,
being accountable, and pursuing excellence in everything we do.
Try this echo ditty with your little learners. You say a line,
then they repeat. Or, if you're brave, you can sing it with them
to the tune of Where Is Thumbkin?
Staying in control of me!
Doin' my chores faithfully,
Making choices carefully.
Thinkin' 'bout the stakeholders.
Thinkin' 'bout the consequences.
You can count on me -
An Allowance For Chores
Chores are a wonderful way to build and develop
At your next family meeting, why not discuss chores and responsibilities
at home. Bounce ideas off of each other. Have your child develop
a list of chores that he or she should be responsible for doing.
This is also a great opportunity to talk about allowance.
Here are some points to ponder:
*What chores is your child willing to do?
*How will your child keep track of chores?
*How often should chores be done?
*What are some rewards for doing the chores?
*What are some consequences for not completing them?
*Should your child get an allowance? If so, how often and how
Helping with chores around the house should
not be optional. Everyone in the household should be able to
contribute in some sort of responsible way. The allowance decision,
however, is unique family by family. What is certain is that
it's never too early to lay a foundation for successful money
management. Talk with your child about spending and saving in
healthy proportions. This discussion can lead into a productive
talk about charitable giving as well.
You will need a CHORE
Bingo boardpdf for each student.
At least 25 Bingo "chips" per student
For a fun twist to an old favorite, why not
try CHORE Bingo? Brainstorm with your class a list of at least
30 chores, tasks, or responsibilities that they have at school,
at home, and in their community. If they get stuck, help them
realize that "doing my homework," "going to my
Scout meeting," or "soccer practice" are all responsibilities.
Once the list is complete, have students draw a 5 X 5 grid on
a piece of paper, making 25 spaces so that it looks like a BINGO
card (or download the CHORE board). Have them write CHORE across
the top; this will serve as their BINGO card. They will put a
FREE space in the middle square, then randomly fill in the squares
on their CHORE board with responsibilities from the list.
As they complete their boards, the teacher
will copy the list onto a piece of paper and cut the tasks into
strips that will be put into a pile and randomly drawn out during
the CHORE Bingo game. Students will each need at least 25 "chips"
that they'll use to cover the tasks as they hear a match; dried
beans, kernels of corn, pennies, or squares of construction paper
work well. Once students have their chips and have completed
their boards, you're ready to play.
The teacher or a student leader can select
a strip of paper with a task on it and read it aloud. If students
have this task on their CHORE Bingo board, they will cover it
up. Continue to draw tasks from the pile until a student gets
five in a row or four corners and the middle. The student who
achieves this goal first says, "CHORE" and has won
the game. You can also play rounds asking students to cover their
tasks in fun shapes like a T, a Y, a Z, etc. or play "Black
Out" where players have to cover all 25 squares to win.
Once you've played a few rounds, talk with students about what
happens in the game when they cover (or complete) their chores
and how that relates to their real life responsibilities.
NOTE: For a variation for younger kids, why
not try JOB Bingo? Have students make a 3X3 grid and fill it
with nine chores (or eight and a free homework pass!).
Every morning, students and faculty at Westwood pledge to "give my best effort in all I do." But what does that mean exactly? What does "give my best effort" look like? What does it feel like?
It's imperative that students understand the positive effects of giving their best effort. Want a visual to illustrate this abstract concept? Try giving each student a domino or rectangular block. As they stand it up on a table in front, have them tell you a time that they gave their best effort and how that felt. The next student can do the same, setting his or her block upright, leaving a little space between it and the one that's already there. After all of the blocks have been stood upright next to one another, tap on the first one to show them how one good deed can have a domino effect and set the stage for positive things to happen.
A simple way to find out is to ask your child at the end of every day to give you two or three examples about how they gave their best effort. Inquire about how it felt and prompt them to reflect upon their positive choices and the positive consequences that may have resulted. In the classroom, these reflections could be done a writing center with fill-in-the-blank half sheets that look something like this:
Today I gave my best effort when I ________________________. It felt _______________ because ________________________.
|Here's a little song that encapsulates the
Responsibility Pillar that you can sing to an old familiar tune,
provided you can remember back to the days of the Mickey Mouse
R E S - P O N - S I B L E
by Barbara Gruener
(Sung to the tune of MIC-KEY-MOUSE)
When I do things to the best
of my ability - I'm
R E S - P O N - S I B L E!
Think before I act and show
R E S - P O N - S I B L E!
Persevere, never quit,
always show responsibility.
Do what I'm supposed to do,
stay in control of me.
R E S - P O N - S I B L E!
According to a story in the book Hugs for
Dad by John William Smith, a father asked his son after grocery
shopping to return their cart to the retrieval area. Although
it would have taken only a minute, the son protested.
"C'mon, Dad," he said, "there
are carts all over the lot. None of those people returned theirs.
No one expects them to."
Then Mom chimed in. "For heaven's sake,
they pay people to collect the carts. Returning one more won't
change the history of the world. Let's just go."
Dad was about to surrender when he saw an
elderly couple walking together to return their cart. After a
moment, he said to his son, "We're not responsible for what
other people do, but we are responsible for what we do. There
are two kinds of people: those who put their carts away and those
who don't. We put our carts away because that's the kind of people
This story isn't just about grocery carts.
It's about doing the right thing in a world that seems to promote
rationalizations and excuses that demean or trivialize simple
acts of virtue. There are two kinds of people: those who find
the strength to do what they ought to and those who find excuses
People of character do the right thing even
if no one else does, not because they think it will change the
world, but because they refuse to be changed by the world.
I'm not saying people who don't return their
shopping carts are moral felons, but there is a lot to admire
in people who have such a strong sense of decency and responsibility
that they put principles above convenience.
NOTE: This commentary was written by Michael
Josephson from the Josephson Institute of Ethics, home of the
Six Pillar framework, who has a daily radio spot during which
he shares his thoughts about character. If you'd like to receive
these commentaries by email, visit http://www.charactercounts.org to sign up.
When we talk to students about responsibility,
we can't do so without mentioning STAKEHOLDERS. The initial discussion
about what a "stakeholder" is might go something like
Counselor: Who knows what a "stakeholder"
Student: Someone who's holding a big juicy
steak about to eat it?
Counselor: No, but that sounds really good
right now. Perry's anyone?
We eventually come around to a different kind
of steak - the stake in the ground that holds something up, like
your tent. We talk about "stakeholders" as anyone who
might have a stake in your choices, in the outcome of your decisions.
So I ask the students this simple question, "Who will care?"
Try these questions with your little stakeholders and see where
the discussion goes.
*Who will care if you show up late for a baseball
or soccer game?
*Who will care if you don't let your dog in at night?
*Who will care if you sneak out of the house after your curfew
to drive around with friends?
*Who will care if you take a ride from a driver who has had a
few alcoholic beverages?
*Who will care if you choose never to recycle anything?
*Who will care if you don't follow the speed limit or other traffic
*Who will care if you don't do your homework?
*Who will care if you don't pick up after yourself at home? in
*Who will care if you don't show up for a play date?
*Who will care if you promise to give a friend a ride to Skatenight
and you forget and go without him/her?
This is a great activity for those long car
rides between Saturday soccer, football, or baseball games. Why
not turn off the radio or tv, think of some of your own, and
give it a try! You may be surprised at how many stakeholders
a person really has.
This activity can be done to illustrate the
importance of everyone doing his/her chores to make a household,
a club, or a classroom function well. Using strips of paper, children
write down their most important chores. Examples might include
setting the table, line leader, flossing their teeth, feeding
the pets - something that is exclusively their job. If they say
they have no chores, remind them that homework could be considered
a chore. If they have two, they can write one on each side of
the strip of paper. Have students share their chore(s) aloud as
you staple their strip into a ring to attach to the next student's
When they've all shared their important chore,
you will have made a class "chore chain." You can reference
a real chain and how strong a real chain is when every link is
securely in place. Have them brainstorm things for which you might
use a chain: a swing, to pull a broken down car, to pull rollercoaster
cars up. Talk about how important a strong chain is. Then have
them imagine what will happen if someone doesn't do their important
job. Tear one of the strips in the middle to show what happens
to the integrity of the chore chain when one link breaks because
someone didn't do his/her chores. Now you have two shorter chains
that you might still use for smaller jobs, maybe, until they imagine
someone else forgets or chooses not to do their job. Another link
comes out and weakens the chain further, and so on.
This visual can springboard a discussion about
the consequences to themselves and their stakeholders if the chore
chain breaks and help them understand the importance of taking
responsibility for their jobs.
Outside The Box
The responsibility pillar states that responsible
people use self control and are self-disciplined. But do "self
control" and "self discipline" mean the same thing
to children as they do to adults? In the illustrated picture
book, The Big Box by Toni Morrison with Slade Morrison,
we see that those concepts seem to be in conflict between the
Simple Synopsis: This creative masterpiece
serves as an excellent metaphor for freedom of self-expression,
self-control, and individuality. Based on the adventures of three
feisty-spirited children, this book details their youthful antics
fueled by their unbridled freedom. Patty is a rebel in the classroom,
Mickey upsets his neighborhood, and Liza frees the animals on
the farm. Challenged by how to handle their energetic kids, the
powers-that-be gather to figure it out. Instead of championing
their innocence and celebrating their creativity, they diagnose
the symptoms and treat the illness by forcing them to stay within
the boxy confines of their orderly adult worlds. Oh, they mean
well, but at what cost?
- After reading the story aloud, prompt discussion
with questions like these:
1. Did Patty do something wrong? What?
2. Did Mickey do something wrong? What?
3. Did Liza do something wrong? What
4. Who acted unfairly in this story?
5. The children got really cool stuff when their parents visited.
Would you be willing to trade your freedom for those things?
Why or why not?
6. Were the children acting responsibly before they were put
in the Box? Do you suppose that time in the Box would improve
their behavior? Why or why not?
7. Describe a time when you might have felt like Patty, Liza,
or Mickey. What steps did you take to improve your situation?
8. Think about the Six Pillars of Character. Did the three children
show good character?
You can use the following activity for follow-up
1. Please Release Me!
Ask your students to choose one of the children:
Mickey, Patty or Liza. They will be writing and delivering a
short speech, campaigning for the release of their chosen child
from his/her prison sentence. They can do it as a third-person
narrative on their child's behalf or in the first-person as the
child him/herself. Encourage your students to base their argument
on the Six Pillars of Character. Allow students to use the following
questions as a guide:
1. Why would your chosen character benefit
from his/her release?
2. What has your chosen character done to deserve his/her release?
3. How will your chosen character behave differently following
4. What has your chosen character learned from his/her time in
The Big Box?
5. Where will your chosen character go following his/her release?
Check out this book
to illustrate the power of one child's choice on its myriad of
stakeholders. Young Katie's innocent smile ignites a far-reaching
circle of warmth and selfless giving. With one simple act of kindness,
she touches the hearts and lives of people she may never even
meet. This masterfully-illustrated story inspires everyone to
pass along One Smile wherever they go.
After reading it together, ask yourself and
your child(ren) questions like, "how many stakeholders are
involved in Katie's choice to smile at that stranger in the park
that day?" and "what might have happened to the man
had Katie chosen to look away or ignore him instead?" and
"what might happen with the other stakeholders as a result
of his actions if he doesn't get that One Smile to pass along?"
This book really combines the responsibility pillar with the caring
pillar and is rich in discussion possibilities.
Mrs. Gruener keeps a copy of One Smile by Cindy McKinley in her office if you would like
to check it out.
|Three Pebbles And A Song
The entertaining children's book, Three Pebbles and a Song, by Eileen Spinelli, serves as an excellent resource to teach the responsibility pillar.
Under strict orders, an easily-distracted young mouse named Moses heads out into the world to help his family by gathering for the winter. Along the way, Moses gathers all right, but not the sort of things that his father, mother, or sister feel like they need. When they take inventory, everyone in his family has gathered something useful to help them weather the season. But what does Moses contribute? Your students will be pleasantly surprised by the ending of this little tale. Find out if they think Moses did his job. Ask them to support their opinion. Did it turn out okay that Moses' contribution was important after all? Why or why not? Have students share a time when they may not have followed instructions and done their responsibility perfectly. What was negative about that experience? Did anything positive come out of it? Why is it sometimes important to be flexible?
Ask students to write a paragraph changing the ending, supposing that Moses had done exactly as he was told. How would the winter have been different for Moses and his family?