Are you looking for ways to build character in the classroom? Bringing character education into your classroom will give children a sense of community and teach them core values. It will help children identify and demonstrate positive ways of handling themselves and treating others. When a whole school focuses on character education, it brings an even larger community together. Wouldn’t it be great to get your whole town involved? State? Country? Continent? World? All we need to do is start somewhere! Learn how to build character in the classroom every month!


I am happy to share ideas that WORK! I taught in a school that focused on character education for many years. Diane Senn, the author of Bee Your Best: A School Full of Characters, was our school counselor. She would come to our classes and teach character education. I loved how she would have our whole school focused on one character trait a month. Students and teachers alike would walk around finding positive traits in each other. So fun! I’m always trying new ways to teach and tie things together, so I picked character traits that fit into a monthly theme. This is what I planned:

Tell students that you will all be CHARACTER ED DETECTIVES throughout the year, looking for good character traits in each other. Each month, focus on one good character trait. Children will brainstorm situations, point out what they see in others, and evaluate themselves. Have them write about someone or themselves and create a door decor to display each month. Students and other teachers, parents, and administrators will love to walk by each month to see what GOOD CHARACTER your class discovered. Students will be so proud of themselves. They will beam from ear to ear if someone else points out one of their positive traits. Homeschool parents– you can do this too! Make a spot (like the fridge) where you display a written note about your children using each trait. You can have them write about it, or you can write about them and even snap a picture of them using a particular trait!


Below, you will find a monthly theme with each good character trait. Mix up how you look for them each month. Some months, use “We” and work together as a whole class on one trait. In other months, use “I” and let your students write about themselves. And still, in other months, you can have students look for the character trait in others. A mentor text or two is listed for each trait below, but now I have more extensive mentor text lists HERE.



I should wear a crown for the day because…

For the first month of the school year, introduce all the good character traits. Click on the picture below for a free list to use in your classroom! You can either have students write why they should wear a crown using one of the traits in their writing or place a blank pineapple with each child’s name. Pick someone to be KING OR QUEEN for the day and write something about him/her. Or keep the display up all year and pick a KING OR QUEEN for the week. A pineapple theme is perfect for the beginning of the year! Start the year off with a positive, fun vibeBE A PINEAPPLE! STAND TALL, WEAR A CROWN, AND BE SWEET ON THE INSIDE!


I am helpful like Johnny Appleseed!

September is Johnny Appleseed Month! Why not use Johnny to help teach the character trait, helpful? Read Johnny Appleseed by Steven Kellogg and discuss how he was KIND AND HELPFUL. They go hand in hand, so why not discuss more than one trait? Then, brainstorm ways to be helpful or what to look for when searching for valuable traits in others. Use apples to display student responses! BE HELPFUL LIKE JOHNNY APPLESEED!



I am brave if you dare!

October is a spooky month, so bravery is the perfect character trait! Read the mentor text Brave Irene by William Steig. Then, brainstorm ways children can be BRAVE/COURAGEOUS. Since they are synonyms, introduce courage and increase students’ character-ed vocabulary! Look for these traits in others, too! Many schools don’t allow teachers to put up Halloween decorations, but you can use pumpkins for the display! BE BRAVE IF YOU DARE!



I am thankful!

Thanksgiving is in November, so exploring the character trait of being thankful is ideal! Read the mentor text Llama Llama Gives Thanks by Anna Dewdney. Start the discussion on the character traits THANKFUL/GRATEFUL. Emphasize that there is ALWAYS something to be thankful for, even tiny things! Help students think about abstract ideas. As a whole group, small group, or even partners, share ideas! Use a turkey feather to display students’ thoughts. Make a turkey and put the feathers around it. Cute, cute, cute! OUR CLASS IS THANKFUL! THERE IS ALWAYS SOMETHING TO BE THANKFUL FOR!



I can be giving!

Christmas and other holidays are celebrated in December. It is the month of gifts, so GIVING immediately came to mind! Start by reading a mentor text: Boxes for Katje by Candace Fleming or The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein. Decorate some cute little prezzies, use real bows, have students think of ways to be GIVING, and place them under a tree. Once again, think outside of the box. Don’t think of physical things. If your school doesn’t allow Christmas trees, that’s ok. Just display the prezzies for your Gift of Giving! Everyone likes a prezzie! OUR CLASS HAS THE GIFT OF GIVING!



I will persevere in the new year!

What do you think of at the New Year? Resolutions! People make goals for the year. PERSEVERING is the perfect character trait to teach alongside New Year’s resolutions. Children will form a deeper meaning of their goals! Read a mentor text:  A Chair for My Mother by Vera Williams, The Little Engine That Could by Watty Piper, or Salt in His Shoes by Deloris Jordan. Have students think of things they may want to improve and goals they want to reach before the end of the year. Use balloons to display their goals. Tell them to check back at their goals occasionally to assess their progress! OUR CLASS WILL PERSEVERE IN THE NEW YEAR!



I am honest like Abe!

Abe Lincoln’s birthday is in February, so we usually honor him during this time. Abe was known as being an honest president. This makes February an excellent month to introduce the character traits of HONESTY AND TRUTHFUL. Read a mentor text: The Empty Pot by Demi or Abe’s Honest Words: The Life of Abraham Lincoln by Doreen Rappaport. Discuss honesty and ways to be honest. You can decorate with an Honest Abe hat! Did you know he carried notes in his hat? Put an honesty note in a black hat! HONESTY IS THE BEST POLICY!



I am so lucky!

Although lucky is not a character trait, it was too cute to pass up for March. I love St. Patrick’s Day and leprechauns! To go along with lucky and the theme, you can discuss the character traits OPTIMISTIC AND HUMBLE. Lucky things happen to positive people, or lucky things happen to humble people! Read a mentor text: Move Your Mood by Maginiation Press. Use a four-leaf clover to display students’ responses! Display it with a pot of gold and a rainbow. OUR CLASS IS  SO LUCKY!



I care about the Earth!

Earth Day is in April. What better way than to discuss how to care about the Earth? Take the time to discuss pollution, waste and how to recycle, reduce, and reuse! Read the mentor text: Thank You Earth, A Love Letter to Our Planet by April Pulley Sayre or I Can Save the Earth by Little Simon and explain to students that they are CARING when they help the environment. Use a mini Earth to display how they plan to care for the Earth! This is also an opportunity to work on an Earth Day project together, and make sure to have a recycling bin in your room! OUR CLASS CARES ABOUT THE EARTH!



I can bee loyal!

Bees come out in the spring and make for adorable door decor! Of course, you can use any character trait with bees. I chose to bee LOYAL because Memorial Day is also in May. You can discuss loyalty to our country, too. Read a mentor text: Fred Stays With Me by Nancy Coffelt. Students can brainstorm ways to be loyal to others or the world around them. Decorate with bees! It makes an adorable bulletin board! OUR CLASS CAN BEE LOYAL!

That completes a year of Character Education! I now have a list of mentor texts for different character traits HERE. I hope you found something helpful in teaching character traits in the classroom or at home. When it is time to switch out your bulletin board or door decor, send home the adorable testimonies of good character found in your student(s). Parents will love love love displaying their child’s GOOD CHARACTER notes at home!




I hope you enjoyed this post. You can see more character education blog posts here. Also, check out my Amazon lists here.