Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Character First - A Character Training Curriculum {Review}

I am always trying to instill good character values in my children.  I firmly believe that it is up to parents to teach and train our children, the results of course are up to the Lord. 
In saying that, I am always on the look out for books, videos and curriculum to help us along the way.   I was very excited when I came across a little gem called Character First!
Character First is a wonderful user friendly character training curriculum that can be used in a classroom or family setting.  The curriculum is divided into a 4 part series covering 36 character traits.  Here is the break down of what character traits are covered in each series:

Series 1: Attentiveness, Obedience, Truthfulness, Gratefulness, Generosity, Orderliness, Forgiveness, Sincerity, Virtue

Series 2: Responsibility, Patience, Initiative, Self-Control, Punctuality, Resourcefulness, Tolerance, Creativity, Discretion

Series 3: Diligence, Loyalty, Hospitality, Sensitivity, Enthusiasm, Flexibility, Discernment, Cautiousness, Boldness

Series 4: Dependability, Thoroughness, Determination, Thriftiness, Availability, Deference, Compassion, Persuasiveness, Wisdom

We were blessed with the Series 1 elementary materials from Character First, which included:

Teacher's Guide Kit - Elementary
The Series 1 Elementary Teacher's Guide - 3 ring binder with lesson plans, coloring sheets, historical and nature stories, crafts, songs and memory work for each of the 9 character traits in this series.  This is the meat and potatoes of the curriculum. 
Character Cards
Character Cards - These 9 little cards, the size of a baseball card, have been great for us.  They fit right into our memory box for daily review of the trait we are currently working on, as well as the the ones we have previously done.
Student Guide Collection
Student Guide Collection - We received the elementary guides for each of the traits in Series 1.  These are individual guides for the kids that include stories and activities.  The kids can write in them, color the nature picture and keep them in their own notebooks.  I was glad that these were included.  My kids enjoy these and are always excited to get a new.
Nature MiniPosters
Nature Mini Posters - These are 8.5"x11"mini posters.  There is a set for each series, each one contains of the 9 character traits.  Each mini poster corresponds with the nature lesson.  There is a beautiful picture of the animal and character trait on the front and the nature story on the back.  I laminated each of these because the are so nice.  I hang them up as we work through them.
Classroom Demonstration DVDs
Classroom Demonstration DVD - These DVDs help to teach kids the songs, memory work, hand motions and nature stories from each character trait.  There is a 5 DVD set to go along with each series.  This is an essential part of the program, in my opinion.  My kids really get a lot out of these videos, it helps to cement what we are learning from the teacher's guide. They LOVE to do the memory work, hand motions and sing the songs in the DVD lessons.  (Mama likes the teacher tips!)
Let me take you through one of the character traits. When studying Truthfulness the teacher guide explains the definition, an illustration, ideas for application and about how to praise kids for being truthful. 
You are given the I Wills of Truthfulness.  I will:
  • tell the truth.
  • encourage others to tell the truth.
  • not cheat or steal.
  • admit it when I am wrong.
  • not exaggerate to make things seem different than what they are.
Next we read about lions. We learned that lions are truthful about how they feel, and show it with their mouth, tail and posture. Then we read two stories about a boy in Africa that wanted to prove his courage by killing a lion, one was true and one was false. We had to figure out which was which was which. Then we read about Abe Lincoln, now we know why he is called Honest Abe.  
Some of the other activities included in the truthfulness unit are:
  • Truthfulness Mural craft that illustrate the five I Wills
  • Definition Scramble
  • If You're Truthful and You Know It... Song
  • Truthfulness crossword puzzle
  • Geese Fly game
  • Memory Work poem,
  • Truthful Lion craft
  • Notes of Truth Project
  • The Pocket Watch Story & Craft
  • Pass It On game
  • Lion picture to color
Then watched the DVD and used the mini posters and character cards for further reinforcement of Truthfulness.
The Pros: 
I really love this curriculum, they are like mini unit studies! I think what makes this curriculum great is that there are several activities for each character trait.  There is repetition, yet there is variety.  Certain things you go over and over, like the memory work and the hand motions, but there are other things that add variety.  The games, videos, stories, crafts and coloring keep the children interested and having fun all while building character. 
I feel that the teachers guide is very simple, straight forward and easy to implement.  I have had no problems or concerns with this curriculum. 
Character First is a great tool to build character for families.  Our children range in age from 4-12 and while we only reviewed the elementary series, I felt it was a good fit for everyone.  I will also keep in mind that they do offer the student guides for older kids. 
The nature and history stories are captivating.  The kids and I have enjoyed every single one that we have read so far.  
The Cons:
This is really not a con, more of a suggestion.  I do wish that CF incorporated Bible stories and scripture into the curriculum.  An add on booklet with scripture suggestions to go with each character trait would be an awesome addition to the program.  I have added in some scripture myself, which no big deal. 

UPDATE:  When I inquired about this, they pointed me to some resources for biblical content that related to the character qualities. Yay!   
I highly recommend Character First.  I plan on continuing to use Character First with my children, hopefully through the whole series.  It is a great addition to our studies, and I can see the fruit from using it. 

We received the above mentioned Character First materials at no charge to us in exchange for a fair and honest review. 


Dawn said...

Sounds wonderful! Thanks for sharing!

Jenni Ryan said...

That sounds exciting!!! I will definitely take a look at this. It is so important that we do teach our children character ;)

Lisa McClanahan said...

This looks really good. My girls would love it just because of all the animals.

Melanie said...

Just stumbled upon this... a year later! Can you share the updated information regarding more scripture/biblical incorporation? Would love to see how that could work together! Thanks!


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