Character Education

Division 3: Grades 7+

Below are discussion questions and activities to foster respect for animals, people, and the environment. Both the discussion questions and activities are part of the ‘Every One Counts’ character education theme for the 2017-2018 school year! To see other character building themes, click here!

Discussion Questions:

  • What does ‘every one counts’ mean to you? Do you agree with that statement? Why or why not?
  • What does it mean to respect someone or something?
  • What may be some reasons people do not always show respect to others? Animals? The environment? Unfamiliar, fear, differences of opinion or beliefs.
  • Do you think these reasons provide sound rationale to deny respect? Why or why not?
  • How can we respectfully communicate with others?
  • How can we respectfully communicate with pets? Livestock? Being kind, gentle, being aware of personal space, using positive straining techniques, being aware of flight zones, etc.
  • How does a culture of respect positively impact your school, local and global communities?

Ethics and View on Animals:

Our perceptions towards animals are most often dictated by their extrinsic value (which is the value we place on them). For example, our feelings about a beloved pet dog, a beef cow, or magpie getting into the garbage are all very different. Even within species we treat and value the same animal differently depending on the context. We have differing attitudes and treatment towards a pet mouse, mouse used for scientific research and a mouse deemed as a pest.

Regardless of an animal’s value to us, we have a duty to respect their intrinsic value (this is their value outside of their perceived worth to us). As sentient beings capable of feeling pleasure and pain they all deserve to be treated humanely. The way we treat animals is a direct result of our attitudes towards them, as attitudes improve so does their welfare.


The Five Freedoms:

Recognizing the intrinsic value of animals, citizens from the United Kingdom (UK) were concerned about the way farm animals were being treated in the mid 1960s. Responding to these concerns, the UK government created a committee to look at the well-being of farm animals. The committee, led by professor Robert Brambell, created the Five Freedoms, now a core concept in animal welfare for all domestic animals. Internationally recognized, these freedoms are used as goals or ideals when thinking about meeting both the physical and behavioural needs of animals.

Discussing the Five Freedoms

  • Go through each of the Five Freedoms and ask: How is this freedom met for you? Do you rely on anyone to have this freedom met?
  • Go through The Five Freedoms again, how are these freedoms met for pets? Farm animals?
  • Is one freedom more important than another? Explain.
  • Is it realistic to meet every freedom all the time? Why or why not?
  • Is it possible for one freedom to conflict with another?
  • Is there a freedom that you could improve upon with your own pet or farm animal? If so, how?


1. The Five Freedoms

As a class, brainstorm a list of animals with their role and extrinsic value. See example below.

Then have students select one of the animals on the list and research how their five freedoms can be addressed. Do the needs of an animal change depending on its role? Compare how the same species of animals with different roles have their freedoms met in different ways (i.e.: beef/dairy cow or police/pet dog).



  • Cow
  • Cow
  • Sheep
  • Dog
  • Dog


  • Beef
  • Dairy
  • Wool
  • Police
  • Pet

Extrinsic Value

  • Meat
  • Milk
  • Textiles
  • Safety for people
  • Companionship

2. R-E-S-P-E-C-T

Everyone can have a slightly different definition of what respect is to them. As a class watch the video ‘What Does Respect Mean to You?’(6:51)

Post Video Discussion Questions

  • Did any of the students’ answers to the question, ‘What does respect mean to you?’ surprise you? Explain.
  • Were there any answers in the video that you might have not thought of?
  • Did the students miss anything?
  • If you were asked the question, ‘What does respect mean to you?’ how would you answer?
  • If you were asked the question, ‘What is an example of how to show respect?’, how would you answer?

Then, in small groups, have students make their own version of the ‘What Does Respect Mean to You?’ video. Have students answer one of the two questions asked in the video. Encourage students to consider animals, people, and the environment when thinking about their answer. Present the videos at an assembly for the entire student body to see!

3. Animals and Respect

As a class, discuss the animals on the poster. What are some similarities and differences of the animals? How are these animals valued by society? Using the template, have students create their own poster with different animals they feel need more respect or expand the poster to include animals, people, and the environment

Curriculum Connections

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