Reaching Your Goals: A Fifth Grade Lesson Plan on Self-Discipline

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Introducing the Concept of Self-Discipline

I start off this activity by telling children that they will likely not fulfill their dreams by sitting around and waiting for things to come their way. Sure, people win the lottery and sometimes inherit millions from long-lost uncles. Others are sons and daughters of the rich and famous, and so their dreams are easier to achieve, but by and large most people have to work hard and persevere if they want to accomplish their goals.

This perseverance requires a lot of self-discipline. Those people not disciplined enough to achieve, will not.

Take a look at the number of people who fail at dieting. This failure is the result of not having a high degree of self discipline in the area of eating and exercise. In the end, it will always come down to how much one wants something and how strictly they’ll stay the course to get it.

Lesson Plan and Activity

I gather children on the carpet and as a whole class we discuss dreams and goals. The children share what they want to be when they’re older or what they want to have. Cars, big houses, pop stars, lawyers, doctors, candy stores…these are a few of the many ideas the children share at the fifth grade level as far as what they envision themselves having.

After they are done sharing I give them the news that it will take self-discipline to get all these things. They look at me wide-eyed and with their jaws agape, perhaps saddened by the reality that they are not going to simply get these things simply because they want them. Then the lesson proceeds:

  • I pass them out ten envelope labels each and tell them to write one goal, dream, or thing they want to have when they are older on each label.

  • I also give them five pieces of printer paper and have them crumple them up into a large paper ball.

  • I tell them to affix the labels around the paper ball.

  • Next I help them wrap their ball up in clear wrap to give it a glassy look.

  • The children make a pedestal for the crystal ball by taking a sentence strip and coiling it around, stapling the two ends together.

  • On the pedestal I instruct the children to write three things they will have to do in order to get the things that are on their crystal balls. For example:

  • Go to college

  • Work hard

  • Get good grades

  • When they are done, they will have their own crystal ball reminders of their goals. and what they will have to do to fulfill those desires.

This idea is based on the great book by Rick Duvall, Building Character and Community in the Classroom. published by Creative Teaching Press. The book is out-of-print, but you can generally pick up used copies inexpensively via Amazon or elsewhere.