The Noble Eightfold Path

This is the second half of a two part series inspired by the book Teach Me Buddhism by Asoka Ganhewa,
Souksomboun Sayasithsena, and Margaret Lisa Buschmann.  In this second lesson, the children will learn how to remember the Noble Eightfold Path with the help of MUSIC, GESTURES, and ART.

Mr. Sayasithsena created clever, simple hand motions to help children (and adults) remember the basic teachings of the Buddha.  My students enjoyed practicing them over and over.

1. Right View (or Understanding)

Point to the eye, looking for good things to do to help end suffering.
2. Right Thought
Put your hand over your heart because our thoughts should be loving and kind.
 3. Right Speech
Point to your mouth.

 4. Right Action
Look at your hands that do only good things.

 5. Right Livelihood (or Occupation)
Put your hand to your side as if your holding your lunch bag or briefcase.
 6. Right Effort
Make one hand push away the bad things and the other looking forward for good things to do.
7. Right Mindfulness
Point to your head.
8. Right Concentration
Lay one hand on top of the other, palms facing up as we do when we meditate.
Music is another wonderful tool for memorizing.  I arranged the ways of the path to the melody of Pachalbel's Canon.  I chose this piece for three reasons.  First, its tune is simple and peaceful.  Second, most children are familiar with the work already which makes it easier for them to focus on learning the lyrics.  And finally, Pachalbel's Canon is one of the world's most famous compositions.  It's frequently played at weddings, concerts, and other occasions.  Each time I hear this canon now, I'm reminded of the Noble Eightfold Path.  My students will be too.  Sneaky, eh?
You can learn the song by clicking here.

Last, we considered the path through art.  The children recognize this Buddhist symbol as the Dhamma Chakra.  Some of them had not realized that each spoke of the wheel represented part of the Noble Eightfold Path.  The children made their own Dhamma Chakras, labeling each spoke.  

Together, the Four Noble Truths and the Noble Eightfold Path are the heart of the Buddha's teachings.  I plan to return to these lessons again and again, incorporating games and songs to help my students remember what it means to be a Buddhist.

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


  1. Thank you for writing this blog. You seem like a wonderful teacher. I wish I lived around you. Thank you for the link to the book. I would like to teach my child about different religions. We wrote a blog post about Hinduism and probably hashed it up pretty badly. Thank you for providing an easy way to teach her about Buddhism. I think we will become semi-buddhists. :) I think it is important to to the ability to quiet the mind so one can embrace the world around them.

  2. Whoops. I think it is important to teach the ability to quiet the mind.

    1. Ha! I love the term semi-buddhists. That sounds great!

      Thanks so much for the kind feedback. If you ever come to DC, look us up.

  3. We will be using this and your suggestions for the Four Noble Truths at the Dallas Meditation Center in Texas for our Faith, Love and Citizenship children's program. Your site is a great resource that I have used before. Thank you for being here!

    1. Wow! That makes me so happy! I hope the program is a huge success. Thanks for the kind feedback.

  4. Thank you for a lot of inspiration! Last autumn we started a Lotus Club for children to learn Buddhism. This is first ever Buddhist club for children in Finland. Till now we have told mostly Jataka tales and had coloring photos relating to stories. Now I'm getting a lot of inspiration to start talking on basic Buddhist teachings.

    1. That's wonderful to hear! Wishing lots of success for the class!
      -Alice Sujata

  5. Thank you for your generosity in sharing your lessons. We are all the way in California, about to embark on a 2nd grade homeschool world religions unit beginning with Buddhism. I have added your 4 Noble Truths and The Eightfold Path art projects and hand motions to our lesson plans! I think we might be becoming "semi-buddhists" as well. :)