Power of Speech (Private-Religious)

K, 1, 2

This lesson highlights the importance of monitoring speech. The children identify positive and negative effects of the words they use and are encouraged to use speech only for good.

PrintOne 45-Minute Session

The learner will:

  • identify ways in which speech can be used for good
  • Yettele’s Feathers, by Joan Rothenberg
Home Connection 

Encourage children to say "please" and "thank-you" as ways of using speech in a positive way. They may write thank-you notes to their parents and other family members.

  • Rothenberg, Joan. Yettele’s Feathers. Hyperion Press, 1996. ISBN: 0786811498


  1. Anticipatory Set:

    Sit in a circle to play a game of telephone. Whisper a secret phrase to one person in the circle, "Our kind words bring sunlight to the world." The children whisper it in turn to the next child exactly as they heard it. The final child in the circle says the secret phrase just as they heard it. Usually, the secret is significantly different from what it was at the beginning.

  2. Discuss the game: why they think the secret changed as it was being passed around the circle. Explain that this sometimes happens to real secrets as well and that that is why it is very important to watch what we say.

  3. Before you read a parable called Yettele’s Feathers, explain that a parable is a story that teaches a lesson. Tell them that after you read the book, you are going to ask them what lesson this book teaches. Read Yettle’s Feathers by Joan Rothenberg.

  4. Talk about the lesson they learned from this parable. (The lesson is that rumors are like feathers because you can never take them back.)

    • Explain that in Hebrew, rumors are called lashon harah (bad speech). This parable is teaching us to stay away from bad speech, such as rumors, tattling, and insults. (Stress that it is okay to tell an adult if someone does or says something that is dangerous.)
  5. Remind the children we are working on tikkun olam, and that it means repairing the world. Ask them if they think lashon harah helps repair the world.

  6. Ask what types of speech should be spread around like feathers because they repair the world and make people feel good.

    Brainstorm words that are good feathers, such as please, thank you, nice work, and how are you? Discuss ways speech can be used for good.

Philanthropy Framework

  1. Strand PHIL.II Philanthropy and Civil Society
    1. Standard PCS 02. Diverse Cultures
      1. Benchmark E.4 Demonstrate listening skills.
  2. Strand PHIL.III Philanthropy and the Individual
    1. Standard PI 01. Reasons for Individual Philanthropy
      1. Benchmark E.5 Give examples of actions students can take to improve the common good and list or describe responsibilities that go with those actions.