A Boat Full of Animals: Fun Activities to Develop Character in Kids

Written by Sally Huss
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I have read many of the Sally Huss books, but this one takes her work a step farther by showing children how to put the lessons into practice. This book contains thirty animal games which allow a child to play while developing skills in kindness, gratitude, appreciation, goodness, patience, and truthfulness. We have all heard the expression, “ A happy life makes a happy wife.” Huss believes the same applies to children; by creating happy children we will build cooperative communities of future happy adults putting these virtues to good use worldwide.

There are thirty games featuring different animals; they can be divided according to time, virtue or animal preference. Each of them provide interactive questions for the child and then create a scenario in which to imagine and act the game out. Here is one example: #4 The Cat Game. Huss points out one of the best qualities of a cat is how it cleans up after itself. Then she gives the child reasons why cleaning up is a good thing and how good it makes you feel. Next she presents the steps in playing the game. The child is asked to make a mess at different times of the day and then clean up seven times. At the end of the day, think of what has been done and how much you have learned. As time goes on, be sure to remind yourself how happy your success has made you.

Each of these games is so cleverly crafted that it is hard to choose. Let me give another example. In #16 The Rabbit Game, the child learns that a rabbit’s long ears are for listening as well as hearing. He must be alert for danger. The child is asked how many times must he hear something before he pays attention. Listening is fun because when we listen we learn new things. Instructions are to really listen at least five times when parents, teachers, siblings or friends speak to you. Then put your rabbit friend on your animal boat and both he and you will be happy listeners.

As a child moves through the book, he will eventually have filled his boat with thirty animals and all their good character traits. A child will have learned how to assimilate their good traits and apply them to everyday life situations making each day a happier experience for the child and those around him. These games are fun to play, and parents or teachers may choose to zero in on those qualities which need the most reinforcement. Highly recommend the book, particularly for children in the five to eight age group.

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