Use your iPad to develop character in your child…

A screenshot from The Trousers of Truthfulness, the first book in the Cowboy Teddy series by Geoff and Michaela Smith








The new Cowboy Teddy Series is a unique way of teaching character, such as truthfulness, which some children struggle to learn. Geoff Smith and his wife, Michaela, have published an interactive book for young readers based on the life of a cowboy teddy bear called Goody Woody, and his younger brother Jack. The duo combined their skills to create the Cowboy Teddy Series, featuring stories and songs in a digital format, highlighting the importance of virtues, which are key character building qualities. Mr Smith added: “Children often have episodes of telling fibs and it can be difficult and upsetting for parents to deal with, even young children can quickly discover the short term benefits gained from the occasional fib.”

Mr Smith, head teacher at Kehelland Village School, near Camborne, introduced a scheme at the school seven years ago, which praises children’s virtues such as hard work, patience, caring and teamwork. He was recently singled out by experts at the University of Birmingham to write the first ever Primary Character Curriculum which the Government may consider introducing into the national curriculum.

“Truthfulness is the foundation on which society is based, affecting our family relationships right though to every level of business and government. We wanted to provide parents, teachers and carers a clear, non-judgemental, nurturing way of exploring truthfulness with their children accessible in a range of formats that are interactive and fun.” He also admits that honesty needs to be balanced with the demands of the real world and that a broad range of virtues is needed. For example he says if someone came to school with a dreadful new haircut, tact might be kinder than truthfulness. “This is a common criticism – that there are very complex decisions in life which can’t be answered just with the application of honesty. But it’s like learning to use complex sentences. You have to understand the basics of speaking and writing to start with, and then combine them and create something more complex.”

Having more than 20 years experience in teaching, he was inspired to develop the virtues scheme following a trip to Canada where it was first developed by the psychotherapist and author, Linda Kavelin Popov. He said:  “The character education scheme helps parents and teachers to recognise the positive in the children. We focus on developing skills such as flexibility, determination, and courage, rather than just saying something is good.”

“Goody is the ideal big brother: patient, encouraging but never judgmental,” said Michaela, who thought up the character while working as a classroom assistant. Michaela, who teaches guitar, piano and singing in Cornish schools, added: “We wanted the story to be participative and to provoke a rich conversation between parents and their children about truthfulness. The interactive format is fun, engaging and allows questions to be raised about how the characters feel when they are not truthful and also asks the child to predict outcomes and consequences.”

“The children were asked to name a cowboy teddy and they came up with Woody and so I wrote a song called Goody Woody in my lunch break and taught it to the children that afternoon. The lyrics described the teddy being kind, patient and tolerant. These were all qualities that the children were struggling to practise at the time.”

They are publishing the series in digital format so that the children can interact with the characters and their trials and listen to the couple’s original songs.

The series, which has taken three years to create, is available for iPad and iPhone from the iTunes App Store.

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