Building Character from the Start: 201 Activities to Foster Creativity, Literacy, and Play in K-3

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Susan Ragsdale and Ann Saylor
Search Institute Press
151 pages. $29.95 paperback with CD.

Applying youth development strategies to children from kindergarten through third grade, this collection offers activities that foster creative arts, reading and writing, movement and other forms of play in which children absorb such life skills as conflict resolution and responsibility. Each activity builds one or more developmental assets.

“Tools of imagination” are organized in three units:

• Forty reproducible worksheets encourage artistic expression with unfinished pictures. For example, children fill a blank comic balloon above a laughing boy’s head with a picture of “something that makes your family laugh.”

• More than 90 books are recommended in sections for grades K-1 and 2-3, with story summaries, discussion questions and activities. After reading Yoko by Rosemary Wells, in which Yoko’s lunchbox sushi makes her classmates laugh, children try new foods, along with the story’s characters.

• More than 70 games organized in 11 types, from community building to word games, including Olympics games like “Disk Throw” with paper plates and Artsy Games like “Human Band.”

In settings from Boys & Girls Clubs to babysitting, camps, church groups, after-school programs and classrooms, leaders can use these lively activities to help children explore values that shape character – while they’re having fun. (800) 888-7828,