Monday, February 20, 2012

Our Favorite FREE! Online Character Resources

I am going to share with you some FREE! resources for what I consider to be the most important subject that we teach in our homeschools...character.

I just love this quote from Charlotte Mason. 
I pulled this picture from the Simply Charlotte Mason site.
If you are working on character at your house, you 
might try starting with some of Charlotte's ideas in the book
Smooth and Easy Days by Sonya Schaeffer which is available 
as a FREE! download courtesy of SCM.

They are offering a new title, The Way of the Will
for FREE! as well, which looks very promising. 
Head to their main page to view their other freebies 
on the right sidebar. You will really benefit from them. I did.

The Character Journal from Homelife Ministries is collection of comprehensive character studies for you to use with your family. Each one is an extensive collection of Bible verses, hymns, definitions, suggested Bible stories and activities related to the quality, a list of "I will" actions, quotes and testimonies related to the trait, and resources. This would make an excellent family Bible study. I highly recommend this site.

Download the Character Trait Checklist from Heart of Wisdom (link is at the beginning of the blog post) and also read how to implement the study of these traits into your homeschool using a four-step method of study. This extensive list of traits also includes definitions and related Bible verses. This is a good addition to a family notebook or child's Bible study notebook.

Homeschool Helper Online has a similar list of character traits, each linking to a brief study, suitable for children of all ages (you can vary the expectations based on age and ability). You are asked to look up the definition for each trait, read a related Bible story, memorize a related verse, then answer some thought-provoking questions. This could be done independently by older children, or orally as a family for younger ones.

Bible Class Books offers eleven character trait booklets that also detail examples and definitions of qualities such as contentment and kindness. These would be good with older students.

The Operational Definitions of Character Qualities  is available for FREE! at S.M. Davis' site, Solve Family Problems. This chart lists character traits, their definitions, their opposite trait, and a Bible verse to support why this quality is important. We laminated this chart and put it on our fridge. It reminds me to be specific with my praise for the children's good behavior...instead of saying, "You are doing a good job" to Ladybug, I tell her, "I really appreciate your diligence." She knows what this means because we have gone over different traits over time. Another thing we like to do with this chart is to have a "family meeting" and decide what things we are pretty good at doing, and which areas we need to work on more. This helps us identify strengths and areas to improve upon. We also like to figure out which trait best describes each person at a particular time. Cowboy is our "encourager" since he loves to pass out hugs and compliments in a very sincere way. We all need one of those in our family!!

Sarah's Sweeties offers a wonderful printable collection of character quality posters with a Bible verse, picture, and definition on each. I printed these on card stock and we hang up each one on the fridge as we study the quality. We are making a wall display in the library with all of our previously studied traits, so we can review them regularly.

I also printed up a set of the Character Trait Songs from Hubbard's Cupboard to use with each study. These are catchy tunes that my Amigos enjoy singing which remind them of a better way to act. It is wonderful to hear them singing the tunes together, or to have one of the little ones ask me to sing the song to go with a particular trait at night before bedtime. What a sweet thought to go to sleep on!

The rest of Hubbard's Cupbard's Character Study resources are excellent for 3-5 year olds (there is room to make it work for more diverse age group with a bit of tweaking on your part). 38 weeks of complete lesson plans with coloring pages, letter activities, character studies, and more will get you started in your homeschooling, or enrich your current program.

Homeschoolshare offers an excellent round up of resources to help you supplement your character training. You can print them up individually to use as needed during your character study, or you can save them and assemble them into a keepsake lapbook when your study of each trait is finished. Either way is win-win!

WOW!! Have you ever read your kids stories from The Book of Virtues? That book is a favorite at our house. We have a copy of it on tape that we listen to in the car, too. Did you know that there is an entirely FREE! complete book study curriculum online for you to use with your family? Check out The Book of Virtues project at Shiver Academy (links to each chapter are on the right sidebar). Be prepared to be impressed and to run out of printer ink!

I just noticed that Adventures in the Book of Virtues animated episodes are FREE! on Netflix Instant Download (okay, maybe that isn't exactly free, but if you subscribe anyway, it sort of is.)

Here is a printable prayer chart that you can laminate and post on your fridge (can you tell my fridge is covered with stuff?) helps you focus and pray for your children about a specific character trait each day of the month.

Download a free sample of Character First's character trait cards. You might get inspired to make your own as you go...It would be very easy to do using the Operational Definition of Character Qualities chart (above) or this list of character qualities defined, then add in a few "I Will's" from The Character Journal (also above) and then pick a photo (or take one) of one of your children demonstrating the character trait. Put that all into a Word (or Open Office, which is FREE!) document, print on card stock, and voila!, you have your own Character Trait cards, useful for review and reminders. You could also make double copies, perhaps with the definition on one and the word and photo on the other, and have younger children play a matching game. Or you could play memory. Or....the possibilities are endless! Also, download samples of their elementary and advanced character study guides. We used to get these at church and loved them.

A last-minute find is this collection of dictionary-linked character traits, both positive and negative. This would be an excellent way to have an older student do a study of different traits, figure out which ones go together, which negatives are the opposite of which positives, and then to find Bible verses on their own to support the Biblical need for the positive ones. Since we are talking about seeing the opposite of good character traits, I just had to add this list of 25 Characteristics of a Fool from A Wise Woman Builds Her Home. I think it is great.

A family favorite read-aloud, A Hive of Busy Bees by Effie Mae Hency Williams, is a timeless classic that tells stories involving character traits. Chapters include: Be Polite, Be Kind, Be Gentle, Be Helpful, and Be Gentle. This freebie is worth downloading and taking the time to read together.

For a useful list of some available FREE! online character-building classics (and a few links to audio versions of the books), check out my Sermon Sunday post about Christian Literature.

Check out Your Story Hour (please read notes made in the comments section when exploring this resource) and Adventures in Odyssey (alternate link) for some character-building FREE! online audio radio dramas. My kids have LOVE, love, love, loved these over the years. If you are going to take the time to have them listen to something, why not have it be something that will do them good? This is a great way to give Mom a break when she needs some quiet time...

My final and favorite FREE! character training resource is YOU. As the sign says, children will think of themselves what you say to them regularly. If you are constantly pointing out what faults they have, they will likely see those faults as the definition  of who they are. Conversely, if, in spite of their mistakes, you are regularly pointing out their strengths, and praising them for their genuine successes, they are more likely to believe that those things make up who they really are and will become.

Even further, always remember that your children are HOMESCHOOLED. This means that you are your child's teacher and one of his or her most important influences. Children will live what they see YOU do. The starting point when working on character needs to be you (and me!).

If, in spite of the minor (and sometimes major) problems you run into throughout your days and weeks, you strive to keep a positive outlook  and stress to your children the importance of living in a way that is pleasing to God, they will learn to behave in the same way.

It might happen almost imperceptibly at first, but eventually, with patience (a virtue!), you will see the fruit of your labors as the seeds of character you have planted grow into beautiful expressions of God's love. In turn, they will plant seeds of kindness and consideration and helpfulness into the lives of others...

How wonderful is it to imagine that??

I think that is why I believe that teaching character is the most important thing you can do for your kids this year. And every year. Start there, and the rest will follow.

I pray you will be blessed by the resources I have shared.


By the way, you can check out a previous post called:
for an exhaustive (or exhausting!) list of ways to cut home education costs. You might want to print it and read it off is chock full of good ideas!!

You can also check out my website, homeschool-for-free, for links to FREE! resources in other curriculum areas.

Check out other lists of bloggers' favorite FREE! educational resources


Unknown said...

Heather, I can't tell you how excited I am to find this post from you in my google reader today. I am always looking for great character studies for my 4 boys. You have put together an amazing list. THANK YOU! I hope you don't mind me linking to your list on my blog. I want others to see it and don't want to forget these ideas and links. Thanks so much. Love your blog!

Angela W. said...

Wow - thanks for this amazing list! Stopping by from the TOS Blog Cruise :)

Dawn said...

EXCELLENT post full of EXCELLENT to check the other sites. Hugs.

Stacie said...

I agree with the other ladies. Thank you for putting this list together! Now, off to check out some of the sites you suggested.

Take care,

dpm said...

Great list. I would caution you against using Your Story Hour, unless you want them to pick up some bad theology while they're picking up good character traits. Here's why:

Heather said...

dpm: I could not get connected to your link, but I appreciate your having pointed out that Your Story Hour is Adventist funded. I was unaware of that. That said, I would certain precaution others to use the materials with discernment. Most of the stories we have heard are in the history sets, but I will definitely be making sure I am listening with the kids and not letting them listen on their own. Attempts to alter true doctrine can be sneaky, and we do not want our kids to hear something and believe it is true simply because it is from a story they heard. We are constantly evaluating books (fiction ones) and classic literature we read aloud together, so I am not bothered by discerningly gleaning the wisdom and good character from the stories and discussing any aberrations we come across...forewarned is forearmed and I appreciate the heads up. Thank you.

Megan said...

Character is so important, and I struggle to find new ways to incorporate those truths into everyday! Thanks for some great resources and ideas!

Megan said...

I am always looking for new ways to incorporate training on character into our day. It is much needed, so I am grateful for such a list of resources and ideas! Thank you!

Anonymous said...

thank you for this!

Unknown said...

This is wonderful! I am going to promote you on my blog...great job!

Anonymous said...

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Keep up thee good writing.

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