Five children’s books that teach respect and manners, plus lessons, activities, anchor charts, and writing prompts, teach kids in Kindergarten, first grade, and second grade important social skills.
Using Books & Activities to Teach Respect & Manners to K-2 Students
Do you teach kids who struggle with showing respect? How about using proper manners? I have felt that way. I imagine you have too.
As teachers, we have the power to help change that trend. Teaching children explicitly about respect and manners is vital in today’s classrooms.
There are helpful ways to teach these social skills through books that reinforce the lessons kids need to learn.
Tips for Teaching Respect and Manners to Kids
Here are some things to consider as you plan to teach respect and manners in your classroom.
- Teach them what respect means! Kids need direct instruction on what the word means and what it entails. Be specific!
- Teach kids “The Golden Rule.” Treating others “how you want to be treated” is a good standard for kids to use as they make decisions.
- Have them practice showing respect and good manners. Give kids scenarios to act out, and let them analyze hypothetic situations and decide what they would do.
- Acts of service give kids the chance to put lessons into action. Find ways to help kids get involved.
- Catch them doing good! When you see kids show respect or good manners, make a big deal! Point it out to others and encourage them to continue doing the right thing.
- Find more ideas in the article, Teaching Respect in the Classroom.
Using Books and Activities to Teach Respect and Manners
Books are a powerful tool to teach any subject, especially social-emotional topics. They provide a rich way to illustrate certain concepts in a way that kids can relate to. They can be fun, silly, and teach profound lessons.
When paired with engaging activities, books can effectively teach deep subjects. Check out these children’s books that teach respect and manners and how to use them with kids.
1. Do Unto Otters
The book Do Unto Otters by Laurie Keller is a book about otters and rabbits that teach us how to be good neighbors by following the Golden Rule. The rabbit learns to get along with his otter neighbors by treating them the way he wants to be treated.
Kids need to learn to respect their friends and people who are different from themselves. This book does an excellent job of showing kids that we should learn to treat others with respect despite our differences.
- Explain what respect means and about the Golden Rule is.
- Discuss ways we show respect at school, at home, and in the community. Ask kids to make connections to the story.
- Create a collaborative chart titled “How to Treat Others” and brainstorm how others should treat us.
- After talking about respect and learning positive ways to treat others, complete a writing prompt “3 Ways I Show Respect” or “I want otters to…”.
Activities to Use with Do Unto Otters:
- What Do You Do? Scenario cards – Use the “What would you do?” scenario cards to lead your classroom discussion and role-play activity. Use character puppets on craft sticks to have kids act out the scenarios.
- Character Traits Match Game – Have a set of character trait cards and definition cards, and turn them upside down. Then, try to match the character trait cards with the description of each trait. Make a match by naming the character trait and giving an example of how you can show it.
2. Respect and Take Care of Things
Respect and Take Care of Things by Cheri J. Meiners is a book about how everything has a place and needs to be cared for. The book encourages kids to pick up after themselves, put things back where they belong, and ask for permission to use things. All of these things are signs of respect.
The book even touches on environmental awareness, helping kids see the importance of taking care of the earth.
Respect has many facets, and one of them is taking care of the things around us. While we should respect people, we should also respect people’s material things and the earth around us.
- As you read the story, ask kids to think of what they take care of (or should care for) throughout the day.
- Create a collaborative chart called “Things We Take Care Of.” Think about things at school, at home, and in the community, and record them on the chart.
- After the lesson, kids can write about things they take care of.
Activities to Use with Respect and Take Care of Things:
- “I Show Respect” Hat Craftivity – On a hat template, draw or write ways to show respect in the spaces and a picture of oneself in the center. Attach the hat piece to a strip of paper to fit a child’s head.
- Respect BINGO – Complete the bingo board as a class or individually. Select different things to take care of and ways to show respect from the Bingo board of ideas. Color in the spaces after the tasks are complete.
3. Lacey Walker, Nonstop Talker
This adorable book, Lacey Walker, Nonstop Talker by Christianne C. Jones, is about a little owl who loves to talk. She talks a lot!
Lacey learns the importance of listening when she loses her voice, and she realizes that she has missed out on things when talking nonstop. She learns that it is important to listen to those around her.
Learning to balance talking and listening is a component of good manners that we should be teaching. Balancing can be a tricky concept to teach, but this book does an excellent job of illustrating it in a way kids can understand.
- Before reading, ask and discuss when it is important to talk and when we should listen.
- Throughout the story, emphasize when Lacey talks instead of listening and discuss what happens.
- Create an anchor chart called “A Good Listener” and brainstorm ways to show good listening.
- After, write about ways to be a good listener.
Activities to Use with Lacey Walker, Nonstop Talker:
- Owl Craft and Writing Prompt – Make the owl craft based on the character from the story out of paper. Think about when you should listen and write it in the talking bubble. Glue the owl and the talking bubble onto a piece of construction paper.
- Listening Journal – Encourage kids to reflect on what it means to be a good listener and record their thoughts in a journal. They can also use this journal to record their listening experiences and what they learned.
4. Ruthie and the (Not So) Teeny Tiny Lie
The book Ruthie and the (Not So) Teeny Tiny Lie by Laura Rankin is a sweet book about honesty. Ruthie, the fox, loves little things. When she finds something that doesn’t belong to her on the playground, she keeps it.
She swears to her teacher and classmates that the object (a camera) was a gift for her birthday. But she knows better, and the tiny camera weighs heavy on her conscience. Finally, in the end, she admits her dishonesty. She also learns that a little lie can grow into a big problem.
Honesty is an essential lesson in respect and it’s important for kids to learn the consequences of our actions.
- Before reading the story, ask and discuss what honesty means. Ask what happens when we lie and how it makes us feel.
- Role-play and practice telling the truth. Then, brainstorm ways to be honest on an anchor chart.
- After talking about honesty and when to tell the truth, kids write about how and when they tell the truth.
Activities to Use with Ruthie and the (Not So) Teeny Tiny Lie:
- Telling the Truth Role Play – Print, cut, and use the “Telling the Truth” scenario cards to lead your role play. Read the lie on the scenario card and ask kids to role-play how you could express it differently and turn it into the truth. Ask kids to share how they would feel if they told that lie.
- Two Truths and a Lie Card Game – Play “Two Truths and a Lie” in a group or with a partner. Kids tell a lie and two truths about themselves. Encourage kids to mix up the order of what they say to trick those listening. Others try to guess what the lie is.
5. Don’t Squeal Unless It’s a Big Deal
Tattling can be a big problem in the early elementary classroom and the book Don’t Squeal Unless It’s a Big Deal by Jeanie Franz Ransom can help. It is set in a classroom of pigs where students are constantly tattling or “squealing” on one another, causing a bad environment for the class.
The teacher teaches them what things are worth informing about and which things are not big deals. Discriminating between the two is a skill that kids need to understand as they learn respect for each other and good manners.
- Before reading, ask what tattling (“squealing”) is and if it is a helpful thing. Share connections and experiences.
- Ask if there are times they should tell the teacher and brainstorm the ideas on an anchor chart called “When to Tell.”
- After, write about when they to tell the teacher something.
Activities to Use with Don’t Squeal Unless It’s a Big Deal:
- “Report or Tattle” Sorting Activity – Read and sort cards with examples of things you could say to the teacher under the headings “Report” and “Tattle.”
- Student Shout-Out Positive Reporting Activity – To encourage kids to point out positive things that others do (instead of tattling), they can write and give classmates a shout-out. Student Shout-Outs are notes about something someone does that’s positive. Kids can write one about someone and post it on the board or place it inside a jar to be collected to read out later. Grab these for FREE below!
Respect and good manners are two vital topics you should cover in your classroom. Using books that teach respect and book companion activities can help.
Books that Teach Respect & Manners
Free Student Shout-Out Cards
Have students recognize each other in positive ways, rather than tattling, with this free set of student shout-out cards.
Alternatively, use the cards to recognize your students for their efforts in showing respect and using good manners.
Click the image below to get your copy!
Teach Respect and Manners with Book Companions Lessons
Find activities for each of the five children’s books featured in this post in our Respect & Manners Book Companion resource for K-2. You will have everything you need to lead informative lessons that support students as they practice being respectful and using good manners.
Check out this comprehensive resource’s writing prompts, journals, games, posters, and activities.
More Ideas for Teaching Respect
Respect Activities, Books & Videos
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