Kids and Honesty

Honesty might seem like a simple concept, but read on to learn how the AIM digital development team quickly learned that conveying the complexities of this topic can be a real challenge.

The initial prototype format for “Francine’s Tough Day” (the interactive feature focused on honesty), introduced ARTHUR-based scenarios along with kid-focused “What would you do?” questions. During the testing phase for the prototype, something interesting surfaced—when we asked kids what they would do in a given situation, the majority of them said they would “always tell the truth!”

If you deal with kids on a regular basis (or you read current research findings on kids and lying) you know that kids do lie to varying degrees––depending on the child, and depending on the situation. With this insight, we knew we needed to revise our initial plan because if kids always chose the “right” thing to do, they wouldn’t be learning about making choices. So, we set out to develop Plan B.

In the format for Plan B, challenging situations were set up for the ARTHUR characters. Kids were then given opportunities to make the “wrong” choice followed by the “right” choice. Although this format prompted discussions, it also proved to be confusing for kids. So, we headed back for more adjustments.

At this point, we knew the situations we created for the ARTHUR characters didn’t need to change because they were focusing on some important points. What did need to change was how the interactive requested input from the buddy pairs.

Scroll down to see an example of one of Francine’s situations and the language we used in the final prompts to encourage buddies to explore and discuss the topic of honesty.

In this scenario Francine has forgotten to do her homework . . .

  • First, the scenario is set up:


  • Then Francine directly engages with the buddy pair:


  • At this point, Francine tells the buddies: “Here are some things I could do. Explore what might happen.”
  • Now, the buddies make a choice for Francine.


Using the prompt language, “Explore what might happen,” became the key to opening up the learning for two reasons:

  1. The buddies were not being tested on their OWN honesty, and
  2. The buddies were encouraged to talk about all of the character’s options (and consequences of those options).

Preliminary tests have shown that our final prompts for the “Francine’s Tough Day” interactive are encouraging buddies to participate in thoughtful, in-depth discussions about honesty and the struggles of choosing to do the right thing.

Although conveying the complexities of honesty did present some surprising challenges––without these challenges we might not have reached such a successful result!

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