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To Tell the Truth

Young children identify with characters they “know” through reading and the media. Use these characters to help students define and discuss honesty.

Purpose: To help students understand the importance of honesty and the difference between truths and lies.

Materials: Printouts of Building Blocks Character Cards (PDF) and/or Know Kit Cards for 3- to 4-year-olds (PDF), Know Kit Cards for 5- to 6-year-olds (PDF) or sets of these cards from the Building Blocks Kit.

Preparation: For non-readers, print only the picture sides of the cards; for young readers, print both sides of the Character Cards (PDF).

Procedure: Hold up one of the Character Cards (PDF) and describe something about the character based on the picture—either true or false. For example:

  • Thurgood Turtle likes to play golf. (True)
  • Mee Possum does not know how to swim. (False)
  • Ali Rabbit only watches when his team plays soccer. (False)
  • Sandy Squirrel has green hair. (False)

As students look at the card and listen to your description they can tell you whether what you’ve said is true or not true.

Next, hand out cards to the students, either in small groups or as individuals, and have them come up with true or false descriptions for the class.

Teaching Note: Students who read can use both sides of the cards to make their true or false statements.

After students play the true or false game, have them discuss why it is important to tell the truth.

Fiction and Truth
Add to the list of characters students identify with or learn from by adding new stories and books to illustrate the importance of honesty. Here are a few to get you started.

  • “The Empty Pot” by Demi (1990, Henry Holt and Company)
    In this Chinese tale, a young boy named Ping is an excellent gardener. His flowers and vegetables are always the most wonderful. Imagine how excited he was when the old Emperor called all the young people together and said, “Whoever grows the most beautiful flower from the seed I give you, will become Emperor.”

    Each young person got a pot and a seed from the Emperor and went home to make the flower grow. Ping watered the seed, gave it fresh soil, fertilized it, but still no flower grew. When it was time to bring the pots and flowers back to the Emperor, Ping’s seed had not grown at all. But, all the other pots were filled with beautiful flowers.

    The Emperor looked at each flower. Then, he stopped at Ping’s empty pot and smiled. “You will be the next Emperor. The seeds I gave everyone would not grow. You are the only one who was honest and brought back the pot with the seed you had received.”

    Note: Check out “The Good Seed” on PBS’ Between the Lions and discuss why “honesty is the best policy.”

  • “The Boy Who Cried Wolf”
    This classic story tells of the young shepherd who cried “wolf” to see if the villagers would come help protect his sheep. The villagers all came running to the field, but there was no wolf. The boy cried “wolf” twice more, the villagers came running and still there was no wolf. Everyone went back to the village grumbling.

    Then, the shepherd saw the wolf coming over the hill and began to shout, “Wolf! Wolf! Wolf!” But, no one came. They knew the boy had lied several times before. They could no longer believe or trust the boy. So, the wolf ran away with all the sheep.

    Note: Check out “The Boy Who Cried Wolf” on PBS’ Between the Lions and discuss why “telling stories” can lead to trouble.

  • Books: After reading each book, have children talk about why these stories came out all right in the end.

    Franklin Fibs by Paulette Bourgeois and Brenda Clark (1992, Scholastic Paperbacks)
    Franklin fibs and finds himself embarrassed and in trouble.

    The Berenstain Bears and the Truth by Stan and Jan Berenstain (1983, Random House Books for Young Readers)
    Brother and Sister Bear lie to Mama when they accidentally break a lamp. And, the lie grows bigger and bigger.

Related Family Article: Children and Honesty


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Updated on 3/21/2012