Parenting and character education is a huge part of homeschooling. Sometimes you spend more time teaching your children how to behave than math or science. Finding creative ways to teach children good values can be challenging, but I think will leave a more lasting impression than an hour lecture.
The following activity was done to focus on one of our Family Values.
Respect encompasses so much, I wanted to break it down and talk about how we can show respect for people to begin with. As I thought about how I can make it fun and memorable for my younger kids, I remembered an old fairy tale, which I changed a bit and shortened to focus more on respect and help the younger ones be able to relate to it better.
TOADS AND DIAMONDS
A widow had two daughters. The youngest treated everyone with respect and kindness. Her older sister however was often rude to others and refused to listen to her mother.
One day when the youngest went to a nearby well for water and had just filled her pitcher, when an old woman came to the well and asked for a drink. "With all my heart," replied the youngest girl. Glad to show respect and kindness to one old and weak, she held the pitcher while the old woman drank.
Now, this was not a trembling old peasant woman, as she appeared, but a fairy who rewarded good deeds.
"Your heart is gentle, and you have shown me respect" said she. "For your kindness to a poor old woman, I will make you a gift. Every time you speak, from your mouth shall come a flower or a jewel."
When the girl reached home, she called for her mother and sister. As she spoke, some pearls and diamonds poured from her lips.
"What is this I see, child?" asked the astonished widow.
The girl eagerly related her experience with the old woman at the fountain, while, with her words, dropped precious stones. The widow immediately called her oldest daughter to her.
"Daughter, would you like the same gift as your sister?" asked she. "Go to the well and fetch water. And if an old woman asks you for a drink, mind' you treat her with respect."
The eldest girl grumbled and complained for a while, but finally she took the pitcher and sullenly obeyed. No sooner was she at the fountain than from the wood came a lady beautifully dressed, who asked the girl for a drink from her pitcher.
"I have not come here to serve you," she rudely replied, "but take the pitcher and help yourself. I will only help the old woman who can make me rich!"
The lady was the fairy, who had taken the appearance of a princess to see how far the girl's disrespectful attitude would go.
"Instead of the old woman, I will make you a gift,"said the fairy, "to equal your rude and disrespectful attitude. Every time you speak, there shall come from your mouth a snake or a toad."
After the tale, I asked them to pick up their room. Right away, I heard grumbling and complaining. I told them to think about if their response was respectful. (And I told them they did not actually have to pick up - right then and there.) Then I asked them if it would make a difference if Batman came here and asked them to pick up. After some laughs, they said of course they would listen without being disrespectful. Then I asked how they would respond, if it was a firefighter, a police officer, their teachers from Church, our bishop and our Prophet asked them to do something or just wanted to talk to them. Of course they said they would treat all of the before mentioned people with respect. So we talked about how we need to treat everyone with respect, not just people we like or feel that are important. How we may meet people who look and act different from us - yet, we still need to show respect. And that we need to show respect to each other as well, in our family. Which is often the hardest.
To help them remember our lesson, we made clay gemstones from white Sculpey clay. Me and my older boys cut facets into clay balls the younger boys made.
Then we put them on paper and baked them on foil pans at 275 degree. I read somewhere to put the clay in the cold oven and not preheated one to prevent cracks.
And I also covered and secured another foil pan on top to contain the fumes.
After the recommended baking time, we let them cool and painted them.
Each of the younger boys have a few gems to remind them to treat everyone with respect. And when we catch them being disrespectful, we tell them," Look, there is a frog and a snake coming out of your mouth!" Which makes them laugh and so far they pretty quickly changed their attitude to be more respectful.
Note: the silver and copper clay gems were painted with Liquid Silver Leaf and Liquid Copper Leaf, found HERE and HERE.