Songs and Activities that Teach Children to be Honest

In early childhood, there is a fine line between make-believe and reality.  Young children have imaginary friends, make up grandiose stories and struggle with telling the truth.  The following songs and activities teach honesty in a variety of situations.  Acting them out can help build character in your students.

Activity #1  –  The truth about me!
Stand before the class and say, “I am wearing a red sweater today.”  Then ask if you are telling the truth.  If they don’t know for sure what you mean, ask them if your sweater is red.  When they nod or answer affirmatively, say, “Yes, I was telling the truth.  My sweater is red.”  

Continue this activity with other statements, such as,  “I am wearing boots today.”  (The students will check to see if you are.) “Yes, I am wearing boots.  That is true.”  Next, say “I have two hands.  Is that true?”  Wait for the students to respond.  If they hesitate, touch one palm and count 1, then touch the other and say 2.  Now ask, “Do I have two hands?  Yes, I have two hands, so that is true.”  

Other ideas: “I have black hair.  Is that true?  Yes, I do have black hair, so that is true.”  or “I have shiny buttons on my sleeves.  Do I have shiny buttons?  Yes, I do, so that is true.”   Later, introduce something that is NOT true and see if they catch it:

“I have two heads.” 

Wait for them to giggle or squeal “No!” and explain that you were just teasing.  Explain that telling the truth and being honest means not teasing.  It means saying what is right.  Affirm this by saying, “I have one head.  Is that the truth?”  When they respond with a “Yes!” tell them they are absolutely right.

Now introduce the following song:

(Tune: Farmer in the Dell)
I will tell the truth,
I will tell the truth,
Saying what is right and true,
I will tell the truth.

Activity #2 – Do you have a dime?  
Many games are played with the intention of tricking your opponent.  This game is different in that it encourages children to be honest.  Explain the rules of the game:

–  Everyone will have a turn to play.
–  When it is your turn, I will put a dime in your hand.
–  I will have someone else ask you if you have any money.
–  If you are honest, you will tell the truth and say, “Yes.”
–  If you are honest, you get to put the dime in my special bank.
–  If you say “No,” and try to tease or trick someone, you aren’t being honest.
–  If you are not honest, the other person gets to put the dime in our bank.
–  We will play this game every day until our bank is filled up.    
–  When our bank is full, we will buy some special treats and have a party!

Demonstrate this activity by having a student come forward.  Place the dime in his fist and tell him to hide it behind his back.  Now ask another student to come forward and ask,  “Do you have a dime?”   If the first student hesitates, encourage him/her to answer “Yes.”  Make a big deal out of letting the student then put his dime in the bank.  If the first student says “No,” or won’t answer the question, the teacher takes the dime and lets the second student put it in the bank.

You can vary this game by using other change, too  – nickels or quarters, too.  (Pennies would take too long to add up to much).  Stick with each coin long enough to let the children become familiar with it, then move on to a nickel or quarter and reinforce the name of the new coin by asking, “Do you have a nickel?”

Activity #3 – Lost and found

Sometimes, when children find something that doesn’t belong to them, it’s tempting to keep it.  This game addresses why it’s important to be honest when that happens.  For this activity, gather several interesting items that someone might lose: keys, money, toy, book, gloves, hat, ball, sweater, etc.

Have the children sit in a circle on the floor.  Tell them you are going to play a game, but no one is to get up or move around until you tell them it’s their turn.  Now, using one of the objects you’ve collected, walk around the circle and purposely “lose” one of your items on the floor outside the circle, then return to your seat.  

Appoint one of the students to walk around the circle and “find” your item.  When they do, have them bring it to you and say, “You lost this.”  Make a big display of thanking them for returning your item and commend them for being honest.

Let children take turns losing and/or finding items.  Only one student is to be walking around the circle at a time.  Once the “loser” is back in his spot, the “finder” can get up and locate the item to return it.  

Now introduce the following song:  

(Tune: Darlin’ Clementine)
Found a quarter*, found a quarter, found a quarter on the ground,
It wasn’t mine, so I returned it – it was lost but now it’s found!

*Substitute other items, wallet, book, etc.

Teaching young children about honesty is important.  If you use fun songs and activities to do so, the lessons they learn in your class should stay with them for life.