When you work with kids and students it’s important to be able to take ideas or principles and demonstrate them in a concrete way. This is especially true when it comes to the idea of Honesty. Lies over time eat away at a trust in relationship.
My wife and I make lying a big deal to our kids. If they’re caught in a lie we always try to emphasize that we’re not upset about what they tried to hide, we’re upset that they tried to hide it. They can talk to us about anything even when they mess up or do wrong. But hiding things from us removes our ability to trust them.
It eats away at the trust. That’s why I love this next object lesson. It’s a great way to emphasize honesty and the damage one little lie can do. At the bottom of this post I’ve put a PDF file that includes a free lesson plan you can download and use
First you need 5 blocks of foam. I used 3″ thick foam cut into 6″ squares.
I used paint to spell out “Trust” on the blocks.
Next in the object lesson you’ll use acetone. It’s better to have an adult do this. Acetone is the same stuff in finger-nail polish remover. It is stronger though. If you have sensitive skin, wear some gloves, but don’t do thin plastic, because the acetone can eat through it.
Also, plan your clean up. Acetone can eat paint, stain, and plastics so plan accordingly. I’d recommend not pouring straight from the can but getting something with a spout to cut down on splatter.
Fun thing about it is you can start by pouring just a little acetone over the foam. It starts dissolving the foam very quickly. As it builds in the pan below the blocks will dissolve into it. One thing that will help if you’re in a big room and the kids are far away is to paint the entire block. You can really see the acetone work on the foam when it dissolves the paint in the letters revealing the foam beneath.
After the mess of this demonstration a great follow up is to clean out the pan or have another one available with an extra set of foam blocks. While you want to paint the visual that dishonesty removes trust you also want to model that there is forgiveness if you do lie. The great visual here is to clean out the goopy mess and show how messy dishonesty can become. (Little tip here is to pour water in with the acetone, it helps make the dissolved goop a little more solid, so you can lift it out.)
With your new set of blocks, demonstrate building the tower again. The key here is to emphasize that after you come clean you can began to build up that trust again by practicing honesty.