The Four Noble Truths

The Four Noble Truths

I'm excited to share this wonderful lesson that began with an idea from Mr. Souksomboun Sayasithsena!  He created clever, simple hand motions to help children (and adults) remember the basic teachings of the Buddha.

Together with his friends, Asoka Ganhewa and Margaret Lisa Buschmann, they created a book titled Teach Me Buddhism.  You can find a pdf of the book by clicking here.

Real life illustrations and simple texts are used to share the heart of Buddhism with young children.  I broke the book up into two lessons: The Four Noble Truths and The Noble Eightfold Path.

On a personal note, I first discovered Buddhism in a little book written by His Holiness the Dalai Lama titled The Way to Freedom.  While preparing to teach this lesson to my kids I decided to reread the section devoted to the Four Noble Truths.  If you'd like to read it too, you can find a free pdf of the book by clicking here.

My students really enjoyed expressing the Four Noble Truths in the gestures taught in the book:

1.  Life is full of suffering.
Place hands on your head like someone who is unhappy.

2. The Causes of Suffering:
They stem from wanting what we cannot have and having what we do not want.
Roll arms around and around each other like our thoughts of want going around and around.

3. There Is An End to Suffering.
Put hands on your heart and show happiness.

4. The Noble Eightfold Path Leads Us Away from Suffering.
Hold up eight fingers for the eightfold path.
Once we finished reading the book and learning the signs, we made games to memorize them.  You could pass a ball or beanbag or call out a name at random.  At each turn the child must show the correct sign.

Try a dancing game where the children must freeze when the music stops and make the sign as you call out,  "SHOW ME THE FOURTH NOBLE TRUTH!"

To reinforce the lesson I invited the younger children to make "Butterflies of Truth".
We kept it simple, using cardstock, crayons, and popsicle sticks.
Once again, my older students were disappointed that they couldn't make the butterflies as well.  You'd think by now I'd learn to ALWAYS assume that they'll want to do the crafts (even when they seem better suited for the munchkins) and bring enough supplies.    I'm a s-l-l-l-ow learner. 

So I promised my upper elementary and middle school students that next week their lesson would definitely include a project on the Noble Eightfold Path.

May all beings be free from suffering by the power of the Triple Gem!


  1. Thank you for the wonderful ideas.
    May you always be happy.