Two children sitting at a table reading picture books and surrounded by bins and shelves of children's books

19 Lists of Children’s Picture Books for Your Humane Education Classroom

by Marsha Rakestraw Children’s books are a terrific tool for sharing positive values, teaching students (in age-appropriate ways) about global ethical issues, and inspiring them to take positive action. They are a powerful part of any classroom and curriculum. Here’s a round-up of 19 of our lists of suggested children’s picture books on a variety…

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sea lions

Building Empathy and Critical Thinking: A Lesson About Animals

by Zoe Weil A few years ago at our Summer Residency for educators at the Institute for Humane Education, teacher and IHE grad Betsy Messenger created a lesson on animal issues that was so effective and powerful, I wanted to share it with you. She gathered our group outside and “borrowed” my dogs, whose only…

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Resources: Whom do you Pet?

Whom Do You Pet & Whom Do You Eat?

What are our relationships with different kinds of animals, and why do those relationships exist? Lead students in an activity which explores why we treat different types of animals differently, and how we can  learn to view them with different eyes. Recommended for grades 5 and up. Time: 60 minutes   Common Core Standards for…

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Three baby chicks huddled together

A Moment in Your Shoes

How will students feel spending a moment in the shoes of a battery hen or a child slave? Use this lively and thought- provoking activity to introduce human and animal issues and the connections between them. Recommended for grades 6 and up. Time: 45 minutes to several days   Common Core Standards for this activity…

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Resources: Ethical Dilemmas

Ethical Dilemmas

Help students think deeply and critically about what it means to be our best selves and about the ethical quandaries between balancing personal desires with kindness toward others by engaging them in an exploration of personal and global ethical scenarios. Recommended for grades 3 through 8. Time: 60 minutes   Common Core Standards for this…

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Resources: Dare to be different

Dare to Be Different

What is prejudice? Why do some people judge others because of their differences? How can we make positive choices that reflect understanding, acceptance, and tolerance? Students learn about these issues and have a chance to “dare to be different” by altering their appearance for a day. Recommended for grades 3-5. Time: 1-2 days   Common…

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Resources: Council of all beings

Council of All Beings

What does a mountain wish for? A wolf? A cow? A river? Participants “become” a being or part of nature and share the lives, concerns, hopes and wisdom of their being in a Council. Recommended for grades 4 and up. Time: 1-2 hours   Common Core Standards for this activity (pdf): Download Common Core for…

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Resources: What does Humane World look like?

Circle of Compassion

What is compassion? Who and what are in our circles of compassion? This activity serves as a springboard for exploring compassion and uses “scenario” stations to inspire participants to think about who’s in their circle of compassion and why, and what they can do to make a positive difference for those being oppressed. Recommended for…

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Alien in the Ethical Universe

Alien in the Ethical Universe

Participants receive a visit from a traveling alien on a fact-finding mission to learn how beings treat other beings on Earth.  Answering the alien’s questions reveals the inconsistencies in how our society encourages us to treat others and encourages students to think critically about our choices. Recommended for grades 5-8. Time: 20-45 minutes   Common…

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children & nature

Why We Need Humane Education: Study Shows Children Don’t Get Outside Playtime

Research has repeatedly shown that we need regular exposure to the natural world. We’re happier and healthier when we’re connected to the natural world. Studies also show improved cognitive function and stress management and lower obesity levels in children who get time outside. But according to a recent study published in the Archives of Pediatrics…

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