Everyday Courage

6, 7, 8

In this lesson, students define courage further by distinguishing it from heroism and recognizing that courage is something we need when making a difficult choice about something important.

Lesson Rating 
One 20-minute class period

The learner will:

  • compare and contrast courage from heroism.
  • identify examples of courage in a set of scenarios.


  1. Anticipatory Set:

    Have the students raise their hands if they think they have ever had to be brave. Ask them to keep their hands up if they had to be brave about something thisweek. Askstudents whether courage is needed every day or if it is something more rare. Discuss why or why not.

  2. Readsome of the following scenarios to discuss what courage is. Discuss why it is or is not an example of courage. Lead students to discern that courage is needed in a difficult situation, where a choice must be made, and there is an element of fear or anxiety about the results of the action.

  3. Scenarios (use some of these and have students come up with more of their own):

    1. Brenda'sfriend isn't talking to her because Brenda was mean to her at lunch today. Brenda knows she must apologize, but she is afraid to admit she was wrong.
    2. Eight-year-old Brett wants topass the swimming test at the YMCA pool so he can go on the big slide. He already swam across the length of the pool, but he is afraid to jump into the 15-foot end and tread water for a minute.
    3. Samantha's mother grounded her for the weekend becauseshe didn't clean her room this week.
    4. Your dog is very ill and the vet advised your family to put the dog to sleep so it will not be in pain.
    5. Kevinhas a lot of homework tonight, andhe doesn't know howhe will get it all done and go to baseball practice.
    6. Nathan's friends are going to a scary movie this Friday night. Nathan is scared to go, but he doesn't want to miss out on the evening with his friends.
    7. In 2002, Ahmed was asked to leave an airplane because people were afraid he was a terrorist. He refused to get off the plane, and the flight attendant called for security.
    8. Malik's family in Pakistan could not afford to send him to school. His teacher saidhe could go to school if he helped withschool chores, but he was afraid to tell his family he could notwork for the family during the day.
  4. Discuss whether people gain more courage when they are facing something really horrible. For example, it doesn't take a hero to go to a scary movie, but it did take a hero to face the police during the Civil Rights Movement. Everyday courage doesn't require heroic action, but it is still courage. Share and discussthe following quote by French poet John Petit-Senn:

Cross Curriculum 

This character education mini-lesson is not intended to be a service learning lesson or to meet the K-12 Service-Learning Standards for Quality Practice. The character education units will be most effective when taught in conjunction with a student-designed service project that provides a real world setting in which students can develop and practice good character and leadership skills. For ideas and suggestions for organizing service events go to generationon.org.

Philanthropy Framework

  1. Strand PHIL.I Definitions of Philanthropy
    1. Standard DP 01. Define Philanthropy
      1. Benchmark MS.2 Compare and contrast philanthropy and charity from Greek and Roman traditions and other cultures.
      2. Benchmark MS.4 Give examples of how individuals have helped others.
  2. Strand PHIL.II Philanthropy and Civil Society
    1. Standard PCS 02. Diverse Cultures
      1. Benchmark MS.2 Describe the importance of hearing all voices in a community and respecting their right to be heard.
      2. Benchmark MS.5 Discuss examples of groups denied their rights in history.
  3. Strand PHIL.III Philanthropy and the Individual
    1. Standard PI 01. Reasons for Individual Philanthropy
      1. Benchmark MS.1 Define and give examples of the motivations for giving and serving.
      2. Benchmark MS.4 Identify and describe the actions of how citizens act for the common good.
      3. Benchmark MS.9 Identify pro-social behavior in different cultures and traditions.

Academic Standards

Select categories to search for standards.

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