When Character's Contagious

Today's post in my character series has to do with your building's character climate. What's hanging on the walls in your school? The poster I saw in one of our classrooms that reads - Your Attitude Is Contagious; Is Yours Worth Catching?  got me to thinking; could I swap the word character with attitude, I wondered. That sparked the idea for this bulletin board: 

YAY - click the picture to see this design featured at Bulletin Board Ideas!
But doesn’t the word contagious have a negative connotation? If I say you have an infectious smile, for example, is that a good thing? Isn’t an infection something we work hard to avoid? If I said that you’ve got Character Fever, would you have to stay home until the fever broke?

Silliness aside, character is something that's just as effectively caught as taught. Leading by example is a powerful thing as evidenced when we’re taking our daily moment of silence. If I’m silent with my head bowed and my hands folded, all those little eyes watching me instantly take that stance to observe that moment with me. I don’t have to shush them to quiet them, I just have to get quiet myself.

Knitting is contagious, too. When our younger students see the third graders knitting for service, they set a goal to be in the Knit Club when they get to third because their role models are doing it. Who wouldn't want to make these cute caps?

Knit One, Save One - Third graders knit to help Save The Children!

The Go Green movement is also catchy and spreading like wild fire. When we throw our recyclables into a blue recycle bin instead of the trashcan, our little conservationists are more likely to do so as well. What we encourage, we teach. How do our little ones best learn how and when to use manners? Is it by hounding them to say “please” and “thank you” or simply by modeling those manners ourselves? 

What about the simplicity of a smile? You’ve undoubtedly heard the adage, “If you see someone without a smile, give them yours.” How quickly do smiles spread? Try it and see. And since kindness begets kindness, add a kind word and you've got the power to transform! Seal the deal with an act of service and you've got synergetic movement in the right direction down character road.

Do you have a culture that's positively contagious in your classroom? At your school? In your home? In your community? If so, keep paying it forward. If not, what will you do to get a character outbreak sweeping through 
your world?

We made our Character Cameras from a Bag Lady template.

Bonus activity: Send your little photographers into the school with their Character Cameras to catch kids making good choices and capture their smiles. On the lined or white paper inside 
their little camera journals, students can write about or draw what they see through the lens of their character cam. Smile!


  1. Great post! The funny thing is last night I was editing my daughters essay on Frankenstein. The theme of her paper was humanity and how all the monster wanted was to be treated kindly. The people were so blinded by the "monster" they did not recognize his kindness. The monster was more humane than the people were and in the end, because the monster was treated like a monster...he behaved like a monster. Great lesson!

    The Picture Book Teacher's Edition

  2. Wow! So many GREAT ideas packed into one GREAT post! LOVE the knitting club, the "contagious" bulletin board, and the cameras. Thank-you for continually keeping me inspired ... your inspiration is contagious (definitely a GOOD thing)!!!

    Runde's Room

  3. I love this post Barbara! What a cute character camera!

  4. This is a great post! I love the camera idea...thank you for sharing your ideas :)

    Teaching in Room 6

  5. I can't find the template for the character camera. Can you direct me to the site?

    1. I don't believe it's posted anywhere; I'll look for it and send it your way if you email me.


I really enjoy hearing from my readers; thanks for sharing your reflections with us!