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Teaching Moral Values in Schools: Five Useful Activities for The Classroom

Updated on December 14, 2017
Paul Kuehn profile image

Paul grew up on a farm where moral virtues such as hard work and honesty were cherished. As a teacher, each class had a moral lesson.

Morals Reflected in Tri-Delta

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Teaching Moral Values in Schools

In a previous hub titled "Teaching Moral Values in School: A Necessary Part of the Curriculum," I mentioned that it was just as important for students to learn moral values in school as it was for them to learn the three Rs. The moral values referred to in that hub included unconditional love and kindness, honesty, hard work, respect for others, co-operation, compassion, and forgiveness. In this hub, I will go one step further and suggest five useful classroom activities as ways of imparting moral values to students.

Useful Moral Values Activities for The Classroom

For almost seven years, I taught EFL students in Thailand. While helping students develop their four basic skills of listening, speaking, reading, and writing, I created lessons which not only addressed needed language skills but which also imparted moral values. Basically, I employed five different classroom activities to reach my goal. They are as follow:

1. Telling and Reading Stories:

All children, especially younger kids, enjoy reading folk tales, fairy tales, and stories where animals are the main characters. This is shown by the great success of Mickey Mouse and other Disney characters. One of the best sources of stories about moral values can be found in Aesop's Fables. These short stories which mostly involve animal characters are simple in expression, and they convey the truth of human life. Four fables which immediately come to mind are Androcles and the Lion; Mercury and the Woodman, The Wind and the Sun, and Never Cry, Wolf. In the fable Androcles and the Lion, students will learn that gratitude and compassion are the signs of a noble soul. The moral lesson from The Wind and the Sun is that kindness has more of an effect on people than severity. The fable Mercury and the Woodman will teach students that honesty is the best quality. Never Cry Wolf teaches children that it is bad to tell a lie.

2. Learning and Singing Songs:

Most children love learning and singing songs. Adolescents and adults also like songs and singing, especially if they can identify with the music. One of the most successful songs I used to impart the moral value of love is an old folk song originally sung by Peter, Paul, and Mary in the 60s titled "If I Had a Hammer." Some of the lyrics of the song go as follow:

"If I had a hammer, I'd hammer in the morning

I'd hammer in the evening all over this land

I'd hammer out danger, I'd hammer out warning

I'd hammer out love between my brother and sister all over this land."

By examining the lyrics, we see that in addition to practicing the second conditional, "If I had a hammer, I'd hammer in the morning," the students are observing and singing the importance of love in the world. In addition to singing the song, I have the students make believe they have a hammer and bell, and I have them demonstrate the actions of hammering and ringing. Other songs about love that could be used for older students are: "What the World Needs Now is Love." by Jackie DeShannon and "Get Together" by the Youngbloods, a popular song from the turbulent 1960s.

3. Role-playing a Story:

The acting out of folktales and fairy tales were always popular listening and speaking activities which I used in the classroom. Most children like dressing up and acting out the roles of different characters. Although I didn't use it in the classroom, an old English folktale, Little Red Hen, appears to be an excellent story for teaching the value of hard work. This short story involves five characters including a red hen, pig, cat, dog, and a turkey. Different students can play the characters, and the dialog to be memorized is limited. The story essentially demonstrates the industriousness of the red hen in planting wheat, harvesting it, and then taking it to the mill to make flour while the other animals sit by idly, but expect to eat bread at the end of the story. Some of my older students have acted out the fairy tales Snow White and Rapunzel which show the moral values of love and compassion.

4. Playing Games:

Playing educational games in the classroom is a great way for instilling the moral value of co-operation. I did this by dividing the class into teams of 4-5 students. Teams competed against each other to see, for example. which one could write the most adjectives or adverbs on the board in five minutes. Another game which I learned and used is called "Stop the Bus." In this game, after the students divide themselves into teams of 4-5 members, the teacher announces that all teams must try to think of names of cities, countries, sports, food, music, etc. which begin with a certain letter of the alphabet. The first team which can think of the names, for example, of things in nine categories beginning with a certain letter assigned by the teacher, write their candidate answers on the board. The team is awarded points for correct answers and deducted points for incorrect answers.

5. Teaching Vocabulary with Associations:

The moral values of good and bad can be introduced when teaching new vocabulary to students. One successful way of doing this is by teaching vocabulary with associations. For example, if I were teaching the meaning of "good" to beginning EFL students, I would draw pictures or show the students pictures of a mother holding a baby, Santa Claus, and a doctor. By seeing all of these pictures associated with "good", the student gets a mental image and a real feeling for the meaning of the word and the moral value which it implies. In this case, "good" refers to a loving mother, a generous Santa Claus, and a helping doctor. Conversely, the meaning of the word "bad" can be introduced by showing pictures of war, a bully, and a thief. In all of these pictures, we see that either someone is getting hurt physically or losing some property.

I am sure that there are many other activities you can think of for teaching moral values in the classroom. The five activities listed above worked well for me, and I am sure they will be successful in your use.

Never Cry Wolf

Peter, Paul, and Mary - If I Had a Hammer

Useful Classroom Activities for Teaching Moral Values

Which is the most useful classroom activity for teaching moral values?

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© 2011 Paul Richard Kuehn

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    • Paul Kuehn profile imageAUTHOR

      Paul Richard Kuehn 

      11 months ago from Udorn City, Thailand

      I appreciate your comments, Edwards.

    • Paul Kuehn profile imageAUTHOR

      Paul Richard Kuehn 

      22 months ago from Udorn City, Thailand

      Liz E, thank you so much for your comments. I am very happy that you can put these ideas to work for the young client in your therapy practice!

    • profile image

      Liz E 

      22 months ago

      These are awesome ideas - I am planning to use these ideas for a young client in my therapy practice who struggles with the concepts of sharing, cooperation, kindness, etc. Thanks

    • Paul Kuehn profile imageAUTHOR

      Paul Richard Kuehn 

      2 years ago from Udorn City, Thailand

      shahla_alizadegani, Thank you very much for reading and I am happy you found my article useful. I agree that modeling in family and society is definitely most important.Good luck with your PHD work!

    • profile image

      shahla_alizadegani@yahoo.com 

      2 years ago

      HELLO, I'm an PHD students in Iran . your article is very useful but i think modeling in family and society is very important.

      Thanks

    • Paul Kuehn profile imageAUTHOR

      Paul Richard Kuehn 

      2 years ago from Udorn City, Thailand

      @prairieprincess , Yes, reading a classic novel is a great way to bring out moral issues. I am noticing this while reading the novels of Charles Dickens and Louisa Mae Alcott.

    • prairieprincess profile image

      Sharilee Swaity 

      2 years ago from Canada

      Paul, some good ideas here. I find that reading a novel can also be a great way to bring out moral issues in discussions. Keep up the good work ... love this series!

    • Paul Kuehn profile imageAUTHOR

      Paul Richard Kuehn 

      6 years ago from Udorn City, Thailand

      Hello TripleAMom. Thank you for the very nice comments. I also look forward to reading your other hubs.

    • TripleAMom profile image

      TripleAMom 

      6 years ago from Florida

      Hey Paul, I love when someone comments on one of my hubs because it helps ME find someone new. This is a great hub about teaching values. I love Aesop's Fables and my kids have grown up on them. Also fun to know you live in Thailand. Have close friends here that were missionaries there for a while and adopted a girl who is now one of my 12 year old's closest friends. She was born weighing less than a pound and not expected to live and is now 13 (14 in July) and though a little slow in math, you would never know she was almost beyond hope. Glad to follow you!! Looking forward to reading more of your hubs.

    • Paul Kuehn profile imageAUTHOR

      Paul Richard Kuehn 

      6 years ago from Udorn City, Thailand

      Thanks again for the favorable comments, Denise. I will write more on this topic.

    • Denise Handlon profile image

      Denise Handlon 

      6 years ago from North Carolina

      Paul-I commend you in your position as a teacher who makes it his responsibility to teach beyond the three R's. Your ideas are great here and the comment about Steven C's 7 habits will probably be effective as well.

      I come from a long line of teachers and it is disheartening to see how morals have deteriorated within the classroom, which is merely a reflection of how they have deteriorated within the home.

      I wish you continued success with your students.

    • Paul Kuehn profile imageAUTHOR

      Paul Richard Kuehn 

      6 years ago from Udorn City, Thailand

      Thank you for reading the hub and the favorable comment.

    • jaybos profile image

      jaybos 

      6 years ago from Utah

      I think teaching morals is one of the most important thing a teacher can do. I thank you for your efforts to make this world a better place!

    • Paul Kuehn profile imageAUTHOR

      Paul Richard Kuehn 

      6 years ago from Udorn City, Thailand

      Thanks for stopping by and the favorable comments. Thanks for the website information. I will definitely check it out.

    • freemarketingnow profile image

      freemarketingnow 

      6 years ago from California

      I have also used Stephen Covey's 7 Habits. There's also a lot of movie clips that demonstrate character. If you go to http://www.lulu.com/alastingwill, there's a small booklet with over 20 movies that teach character lessons through snippets of film. And obviously, I think a lot of character building needs to be modeled and practiced. Good job with the article, and continue teaching kids how to be good citizens and people!

    • Paul Kuehn profile imageAUTHOR

      Paul Richard Kuehn 

      6 years ago from Udorn City, Thailand

      Thanks for the comments. Yes, I agree that moral indecision is a problem in many schools.

    • ultrasoundtherapy profile image

      ultrasoundtherapy 

      6 years ago from Utah

      The difficulty I've seen with teaching morals in school is that most of the world's societies have no moral compass for what is good and what is bad. In the past, it was understood that sex outside of marriage was bad. Now it's just an alternative way of going about relationships. Who in the world really knows the difference between right and wrong now?

      This moral indecision is more problematic in public schools. Because of this, I've chosen to make the sacrifice to put my kids in a private school that isn't influenced by the political correctness that seems to have dulled our understanding of good versus evil.

    • MsDora profile image

      Dora Weithers 

      6 years ago from The Caribbean

      Really good hub content! Teaching morals incidentally, is one, if not the best way. All five activities are commendable! Voted UP and USEFUL!

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