How I Teach Kids About Ethical Decision Making

In elementary school, we’re constantly talking about making good choices that are good for yourself and good for others! But how can we actually help kids figure out what choice is the *best* choice? In fourth grade classroom counseling lessons, I teach ethical decision-making to help kids evaluate choices in common situations. This lesson on making good choices for kids highlights situations students might actually find themselves in and helps them evaluate possible outcomes so they can choose the best possible choice!

Looking for a lesson on making good choices for kids? This lesson on ethical decision making helps kids understand how to evaluate choices.

Making Good Choices for Kids: Lesson on Ethical Decision Making

Lesson Hook: What Would You Do?

To start our lesson, we watch a clip from the TV show, What Would You Do? In this clip, a child actor draws on an art display in a restaurant and the actor playing her mother asks patrons around them to lie for them.

We talk about:
  • Which reactions surprised you?
  • Why do you think people chose these reactions?
  • What would you do in this situation?

Instruction: PIE Method

Next, we talk about what ethical decision-making actually is: making choices that are in line with laws, rules, unstated rules, expectations, and promote good and well-being for those involved. I made an acronym to help guide students’ thinking about situations:

Looking for a lesson on making good choices for kids? This lesson on ethical decision making helps kids understand how to evaluate choices.
  • P: How would you feel if your choice was printed on the front page of the newspaper or posted online for others to see?
  • I: What does your inner voice, gut, or conscience tell you is the right choice?
  • E: What would the world be like if everyone made choices like this?
Looking for a lesson on making good choices for kids? This lesson on ethical decision making helps kids understand how to evaluate choices.

Small Group Activity:

Then, in small groups, students get a card with a scenario they might actually face in school or outside of school, and use the PIE method to evaluate their choices. Students identify at least 2 choices to a given scenario, discuss how they’d feel if they made that choice and it was printed or posted for everyone to see, what their inner voices say is right, and what the world would be like if everyone made that choice. Then, we share out with the whole group!

Get the Lesson:

Looking for a lesson on making good choices for kids? This lesson on ethical decision making helps kids understand how to evaluate choices.
Looking for a lesson on making good choices for kids? This lesson on ethical decision making helps kids understand how to evaluate choices. Perfect for classroom guidance lessons, classroom counseling lessons, small group counseling, or individual counseling to help kids make good choices and learn about ethical decision making.

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