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Character Traits Coloring Book Review by Tammy Walker

Renee Ellison
Homeschool How-To's
190 Vista Linda Ave.
Durango, CO 81303

All parents want their children to have great character, and parents have any number of creative ways in which they try to meet this goal. Many who homeschool have a need to find ways to keep their teaching and training fresh. Renee Ellison has put forth much creativity and effort in designing a curriculum to aid parents in their wishes to have children of deep character. This curriculum offers training opportunities in 48 different character traits such as anger, contentment, flexibility, humility, optimism, patience, and tactfulness. For each character trait, the author has produced the following: a coloring page representing the specific trait, an object lesson with detailed instructions for the parent to make the trait more tangible, a song and one or two Bible verses for memory. Each lesson is two pages-a coloring page and a lesson page.

A lesson example on "fairness" follows:

The printable coloring page on "fairness" shows various scales for weighing, a roaring lion, and a gavel on an open book. The letters in the word "fairness" are being weighed on different scales.

The first lesson point is "Key to Picture Discussion." The author writes, "Our lives must be marked by fairness because God sees everything we do and will in the end judge everything and put everything right."

The next lesson point is "Object Lesson." Ellison directs, "One child divides a chocolate bar in half. The other child chooses which half he wants. Read or tell the story of the Red Hen. No one would help her make the bread by gathering the wheat, milling it, and baking it, but everyone wanted to eat it in the end. The Red Hen let no one eat of it who hadn't helped. Then discuss. What was wrong with the duck, mouse, and pig? They weren't fair. They were selfish, not wanting to help, but wanting to eat. What was the matter with the hen? She was ONLY fair and showed no grace. Grace is unmerited favor . . . something you don't deserve. How is God fair? He will make everything right in the end. He will at last finally and completely judge sin. Bad men (who are outside of Christ) will pay for what they do on earth even if it looks like they are getting away with it now. But what does God add? Grace. He extends salvation when we don't deserve it."

The last point of the lesson is the lyrics to the song on fairness. At this point, one would play the song and have children sing.

Our family primarily uses God's word, prayer, and wise friends and family to assist us in the proper training of our children. Occasionally, there is a solid book whose theology and worldview meet our needs as well. I could easily see incorporating something like this, though sparingly, in our schoolroom. Along with the daily bible devotion time, I would use this maybe once a week to hone in on particular issues one of my children may be struggling with, or just use in sporadically for fun. My children have enjoyed many of the songs on the CD as we've listened to them while running errands. I would use this as I have similarly used the source, For Instruction in Righteousness by Pam Forster, where the author easily breaks down particular sins, giving suggestions for discipline, bible stories and verses to help shed light. Though the latter is used somewhat punitively, the former would be a positive way to reinforce desired traits, and by setting it to music, a child could recall the lesson more easily.

All songs are sung by talented singers: Kim Anderson, Ken Anderson, and Kipp Lockwood. The music is primarily keyboard played by Renee Ellison. Some are, indeed, quite catchy and humorous (my children crack up and the "grumbler"), though the familiar rhythm and sound can be a bit tedious if listening to all songs at once. I think this curriculum is a value for the price and think most young children would enjoy it. And the lessons are already created for you when your children show sinful behavior. When the fighting ensues, pull out the lesson on humility or sharing, or recall the song from the past and have them sing. Or, use the bible verses from these lessons for memory practice. Though I do not agree that simply coloring and listening creates a desired behavior (it's God's word and Spirit which ultimately sanctify), I always appreciate helpful tools to reinforce righteousness. You could do much with this curriculum to assist you and in the training of your children.

-Product review by: Tammy Walker, The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, LLC, July 2008.