Volunteers across the state are teaching valuable lessons about character to young schoolchildren. The efforts are part of the Character Critters initiative, a statewide character education program developed by the LSU Agricultural Center, which features stories about six cute critters and the lessons they learn about personal character.
"This program was designed for preschool and Head Start children," says LSU AgCenter family development specialist Dr. Becky White. "In surveying the field, we found a lack of materials to use with young children." The resources were developed in 1999 and designed for use with preschoolers.
The stories are about responsibility, trustworthiness, respect, caring, fairness and citizenship. The children hear stories about a variety of critters, including Roy the Responsible Rabbit and Carrie the Caring Cat.
"I like that they are teaching the pillars of character tochildren at a very young age, because it's important that we know the pillars of character in order to get along in our society," said Bobbie Facen, principal of Southside Elementary in Lake Providence, La.
To make the experience even more meaningful to children, some volunteers dress up as the characters to help make each story more interesting. Other volunteers use puppets to enhance their storytelling. Games and hands-on activities make the Character Critter experience more fun and enjoyable for the children.
"Children learn best when they see as well as hear, and being able to see the volunteers perform has been quite helpful," Facen said.
The response to Character Critters has LSU AgCenter faculty members excited about the program's potential.
"What we've seen is just this enormous response and recognition by people who work with young children every day," White said. "Preschool and kindergarten teachers as well as child caregivers want a program like this to share with their children."
For more information, please visit the Character Critters website.
The LSU AgCenter and the LSU College of Agriculture