Infusing character education into your curriculum helps students learn the life skills they need to become better students, friends, family members, and future professionals. What better way to do this than by reading a character-education book series featuring your students’ favorite Disney characters? Here are six simple and fun activities you can pair with books about the Incredibles, Elsa, Lightning McQueen, and more. Use these books to help develop character traits—like responsibility, leadership, and respect—that will help your students find success in school and in life.
1. Responsibility Activity: Heroic Hands
First, read How to Be a Hero: Responsibility with the Incredibles. Pass out colored construction paper and have each student trace their hand twice and cut out the shape. Students then write the word “hero” on the palm of the first cutout. Next, they write a different characteristic of heroes (e.g., friendly, helps others, etc.) on each finger. On the second cutout, have each student write their name on the palm. On each finger, students list ways they can be a hero in their community (e.g., do homework, follow school rules, recycle, etc.). Decorate a bulletin board or your classroom door featuring your students’ creations.
2. Grit Activity: Police Officer Interviews
After reading How to Be a Zootopia Police Officer: Grit with Judy Hopps, ask students to think about which qualities the characters display in the story that show they have grit. Divide students into groups of two. Have each group write a job advertisement seeking new applicants for the Zootopia Police Academy as well as interview questions that focus on grit. Be sure to have students take turns acting as the interviewer (Police Chief Bogo) and the interviewee (Nick).
3. Leadership Activity: Guide the Kingdom
Great leaders work hard to help others. Read How to Be a Snow Queen: Leadership with Elsa. Then show your students the positive effects of great leadership in action with a fun game. Bring your class to an area with a lot of open space, like inside the gym or outside on the grass. Split the class into two teams, or two different kingdoms. Choose a leader, a king or queen, for each team. Put blindfolds on each team member except the leaders. Designate a starting point and a finish line, and have the team leaders use only their voices to help their entire team get from point A to point B. Try adding cones or other obstacles to make it more challenging. The kingdom whose leader gives the clearest directions and gets their team across the finish line first wins.
Safety Tip: Supervise students closely to ensure they don’t run or trip.
4. Respect Activity: Rewrite the Story
Teach your students to treat others how they want to be treated. After reading How to Be a Race Car: Respect with Lighting McQueen, ask your students to think about times when Lighting McQueen could have made better choices. Have students work individually or in small groups to rewrite the parts of the story where Lighting could have been more respectful to his teammates.
5. Confidence Activity: Pride Rock Painting
Help instill confidence in your students. First read How to be King of Pride Rock: Confidence with Simba. Then have students think about abilities they have that they’re proud of (e.g., “I’m great at math,” “I can do cartwheels,” “I’m a good friend”). Pass out a smooth stone to each student and have them choose one positive affirmation to paint on their stone. Students can keep their “pride rocks” on their desks as a reminder to have faith in themselves. Hint: Have students help you find the stones outside or buy them online.
6. Teamwork Activity: Bouncing Balloons
Teach your students that they can solve challenges more easily by working together. First read How to Be a Beloved Toy: Teamwork with Woody. Then choose two student volunteers—one pretends to be Buzz Lightyear and the other pretends to be Woody. Blow up two balloons, giving each volunteer one. Tell them to work individually to keep the balloon from falling to the ground, using only one hand (keeping the other hand behind their back). For older students, you may want to give each student two or three balloons. Then have both Buzz and Woody work together to keep the balloon(s) from falling to the ground. Add more balloons and more students to show the power of teamwork.
Free Disney Character Education Classroom Posters
Get your free printable character education posters from Lerner. Each poster features a different Disney character and trait that aligns with the books in this article.